Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Magdalena, Southern California, 2019

Last year I was lucky enough to spend 3 months in California, and took advantage of every weekend possible. Each week one of my incredible friends allowed themselves to be driven two hours out of Los Angeles, and gave their entire afternoon/evening to the sessions. These three are from two different sessions with Magdalena, one of the most sincere people in my life. 

Jessica y Juan Alberto, Las Canchas, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2018

No es necesario escribir en exceso para describir esta imagen, su pasión necesita poca descripción. Hace dos años fue un honor documentar sus increíbles talentos, y estoy agradecido con nuestro colega Tamy por habernos reunido a todos esa hermosa mañana.

Extraño a estas tres personas hermosas, y extraño este espacio increíble. Al llegar por la mañana gracias a Idiovel, la paz que nos recibe en este espacio es inolvidable. La hierba suele estar húmeda después de una noche fresca, y pronto se secará con el sol naciente.

Hemos tenido muchas sesiones aquí, y todas son especiales para mí. Este me recuerda que necesito regresar pronto a la isla y documentar a mi hermosa familia cubana. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Kylee + Darkroom, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, Near Los Angeles, California, 2019

It feels great to be in the darkroom again, day after day, full-time for the next six months. Seeing the fruits of our photographic labor on paper is beyond rewarding.


Grain + Syrian Refugee, Near Zahle, Lebanon, 2019

When I began using film almost 25 years ago, grain was an enemy. Now I embrace the clusters of silver particles and enlarge an image extensively to see them!

Another day in the darkroom with her negative being printed first. The actual image is a bit further from her but it felt right to amplify her features, to showcase her strength up close. She is a Syrian girl forced to live in Lebanon, with her family doing what it can to survive. It was and is a privilege to have made her portrait, and I hope that these images help carry her message further.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Syrian Girl + Classroom, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019

Last summer was supposed to be spent in Cuba, but Customs officials seized my film and plans changed. The summer was instead spent expanding on the work begun in 1997 and going to new camps. One such place was this young girl's camp. 

Like the rest of the girls in my photography in Lebanon, she is Syrian and was forced to move from her home. The camp in which she lives is quite large, and split into three parts. Each part represents Syrians from various parts of the country. What they have in common is their heartache, and desire to see their homeland once again.

For this portrait a very nice man allowed me to enter the school that a European NGO started for their children. He had the key and we found the space to be both serene and creative. All of the girls went home to prepare, to play with their hair and to also bring some scarves for variety.

There was a meshwork in the window along with a wooden stick. This incredible man removed both so that the light can enter freely, and put that material back up once we finished. These details make these portraits, and without them the images would be impossible.

She is a remarkably strong girl, and had no problem being photographed in front of the rest of her friends. As a matter of fact I returned on two more occasions to make her portrait, in the same space and with that glorious window ready. Last summer the photography in Lebanon changed, as we entered schools and people's homes to make the best portraits possible.

The sheen of the paper has been left alone in this image, so that we get a sense of the magic of film photography, and the depth of the shadows. It's a privilege to have made her portrait, and to have this final image in my hands this evening.


A Syrian Through the Loupes, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019

A look through the loupes of a negative made last summer in Lebanon, of a Syrian refugee living in a camp near Zahle. While the pandemic has prevented me from seeing her and her family this summer, they are in my thoughts constantly. The printing of their negatives in the darkroom helps me relive our encounters from last year. She and her family have been living in Lebanon since the hostilities forced them to leave Syria. My hope is that one day they can return and rebuild their homes.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Kylee + Light Leak, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, 2019

There’s something magical about the darkroom, the place where light which was faithfully transmitted to film can then be transferred to light-sensitive paper. This is what film photography means to me, reviewing the test strip and then selecting the time and contrast to represent the moment captured on that incredible day!  

PS The light leak represents the mechanical side, reminds me that chaos is the order of the world... which led to printing it full frame and to embrace the disorder. 


Young Syrian + Scarf, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019

As the series from last year in Lebanon continues, more and more familiar faces rise through the developer. This young girl lives but ten minutes away from my family's home in Zahle, and in the very first encampment which gave birth to my images in Lebanon over two decades.

Her portrait needed to be printed close up, cropped and large, embracing the grain of #kodaktrix and her incredibly strong expression!


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Chemicals + Darkroom, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 2020

Everything is ready to go for another week in the darkroom, finishing the prints from Lebanon and moving on to the negatives from Nicaragua.


Best Friends, Syrian Girls, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019

There’s something magical about the darkroom, the place where light which was faithfully transmitted to film can then be transferred to light-sensitive paper. This is what film photography means to me, from the selection of the negative, to the placement under the light source, to the focus on the easel, to the test strip, to the setting of contrast and finally to the fiber print!

This was printed today, a portrait of two best friends from my time in Lebanon last year. They are Syrians living in Lebanon during these difficult times, and are on my mind as summer approaches. My hope is that their future is as bright as the light in this enlarger, and as pure.