Sunday, June 26, 2016

3 Frames in the Life of a Ballerina, La Habana, Cuba, 2015


Earlier today costumes for ballerinas in Cuba were picked up once again, inspiring me further to collaborate in one week's time. This young girl is one of the dancers, and has taken part of this project for the past three years.

In these frames she was practicing her positions when the shutter was released. She realized immediately but continued with her practice. Intense and passionate are two adjectives used by all to describe her, and has improved dramatically in just one year.

This is our special place, the racquetball courts of Santa Maria del Mar. We began our work here, and continue to use this space for our collaboration. In the morning few players are on the courts and we are left a most peaceful environment in which to work. We could see the beach in the near distance, and know that after we are finished we are heading to the waves for a bit of fun.

I really look forward to handing her the beautiful fabrics in a week, and even more so to returning with her to the racquetball courts.


Note: This series was exposed with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination onto Kodak TMX film.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Release, Santa Maria del Mar, La Habana, Cuba, 2015


In less than four weeks I will be in her presence once again, planning another session in those beautiful waters. She and her brother are exquisite dancers, and are remarkable in front of the lens. The excitement is almost too much to endure!

We met one afternoon when I walked in front of their home on a busy Havana street. Their mother was sitting just inside the landing, and to the side of some vegetables for sale. I asked permission to photograph her, and she allowed me to do so.

Just after we finished it was mentioned that two of her children were ballerinas. She called for the children to come, and after a minute the two most beautiful dancers were standing in front of me.

They were out of breath after running to us, but had smiles ear to ear. The family was incredible, and even put a dance show for me a few minutes later right inside the home. I knew right there and then that we had yet another beautiful family with which to collaborate.

I look forward to seeing them again, and to documenting their considerable talents on film. In this image, she is photographed just as she was about to release a symbol of love for the viewers of her photograph. It stands out from the rest on that day, and I will hand her this image as soon as we meet in a few weeks.


Note: This image was made with a Fuji GA645i onto Kodak TMX film.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Young Student, Student of Friend, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2016


For those interested in our interfaith collaboration we present one of the students for whom this work is dedicated. She attends our friend's school in a small village near Kairana, and has the met beautiful voice. When we arrived she was the first one called upon to sing for us, and stole our hearts.

When Nirvana Bodhisattva heard about my visit to the school once again, he shared his thoughts regarding an interfaith project. It seemed that he had been interested in some time and saw this as a chance to explore the idea.

We went in advance and photographed the villages for three days, always being welcomed thanks to our generous hosts. Then Nirvana and his team arrived, and the project went from an idea to a greater possibility. Our hosts in the first school had a surprise waiting for us, as they organized a presentation in the mosque while we visited with the students.

It was a wonderful affair, and Nirvana Bodhisattvawas asked to speak in front of the entire student body. All of the boys and the girls sat on the floor of the mosque, and heard something perhaps new to them spoken by their visitor that day. I of course understood nothing, but could tell that everyone nodded in agreement, everyone from the students to the teachers to the religious leaders.

This gave me the confidence to hope that the project would be well-received. During that same visit Nirvana and his team spoke with our hosts, and gained an initial understanding of our collaboration.

We have now a clear vision of this project, and are presenting it to the communities in the States for support and funding. So if this story touches you, and you feel that this is something behind which you can stand, do let us know what we can do to make this happen for all of us.



Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3, with available light only.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Young Model + Beach, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2015


Last summer we had the honor of working with some of the best models in Cuba, and were humbled with their willingness to do more than expected. All were willing to get into the water with their outfits, to get down into the sand and get completely wet.

That was the case with this young model. She struggled at first with the sunlight, but used that to her advantage by taking on more abstract positions, more unusual stances. Here she closed her eyes and thought peaceful thoughts as the shutter was released.

While working with professionals can be different than working with our ballet students, the difference in Cuba is minimal for all take the photography so seriously. I for one look forward to returning in two weeks and bringing these photographs to the people.


Note: This image was made with a Fuji GA645 camera onto Kodak TMX film.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Interfaith Collaboration, Rajasthan + Uttar Pradesh, India, 2016


Two months ago Nirvana Bodhisattva and I visited this village and her school. We spoke with our host and learned that he would like to introduce a full school curriculum to the village. With his own funds he built the school and has funded a limited curriculum in order to gain the confidence of the village. What was most intriguing to me, and perhaps to Nirvana, was our host's willingness to accept an interfaith approach to this project.

So over the next four weeks I am going to ask this community for ideas. Does anyone feel that they would like to take part in this project? Does anyone belong to a community, such as a mosque or a temple, which would like to partner up with its counterpart in Uttar Pradesh?

The school will have around 240 students, with both genders being equally represented. Nirvana Bodhisattva and his team at Nirvanavan Foundation will be in charge of the project, and the collaboration will span the states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The budget is quite reasonable for the scale, and I truly believe we can take this on.

All ideas are appreciated of course!

halim.ina@gmail.com

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100III with available light only.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Exhaling, Crimea, Matanzas, Cuba, 2015


This small village is quite special to me ever since we made a turn from the highway three years ago. We were on our way back from the countryside and spotted nothing on the highway itself. Then my instinct told me to ask Alejandro to make that turn, and everything followed from that fortunate chance.

We made a photograph of a farmer next to his cart, and then purchased some avocado and bananas. He was a gentle man, and invited us to drive to his village a mile or so up the road. Following his lead is what led us to this row of houses.

While we were there to photograph some of the younger residents, this young woman caught my eye one afternoon. She was supremely cool, had the most confident smile and engaged in a conversation without hesitation. She told me about herself, invited me into her home to see her life as it was.

The only time she was surprised was when I asked for her photograph. We talked for a little bit, as I shared my enthusiasm for her portrait. She accepted quickly and stood in front of her home with this cigarette in her hand. At first she was going to put the cigarette down, then she picked it up and this series was born!

I hope to visit her village this year of course, and hand her the portraits just scanned this week!



Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/100 mm combination onto Kodak TMX film.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The One with Clear Eyes, La Habana, Cuba, 2015


Even 10 years later her eyes pierce right through me. She is as intense now as she was when we first met in 2005 on the waterfront of the capital. She was an androgynous figure back then, with the clearest of eyes. My photography on the island truly began with her, and continues to this day with her.

She now has two beautiful children of her own, and does her best to help her mother at home. She inspires me every single time I see her, and knows that she does the same for countless people who have viewed her first portrait with me.

Every time we are on the island she calls me, and wonders where I am. She checks on me as a mother checks on a child, and makes sure that we see each other at least once a week. When we do visit she makes us fresh juice, and sits with us as we talk. She is the most relaxed person on the island, but also has deep passions.

She was only 12 years old when we first made her photograph, yet allowed me to make her portrait every year since other than my absence in 2009. She has remained true to me, and knows that I will always be there for her…. always.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination onto Kodak TMY film, scanned just tonight for her.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mother + Child, Banjara Community, Rajasthan, India, 2009


On the morning of this portrait, we arrived before the sun came up and walked toward this first set of homes. The men were out for the day already, and only the women and children were left behind. This was just fine by me, as the women quickly agreed to allow the photography to begin.

The sun was very soft but we managed to find a white wall to use as our backdrop anyway. We began with a few portraits of the boys, as always ready subjects to be photographed. Then the girls stepped up and we made a few images lasting perhaps twenty or so minutes. The surprise came when the women asked to be photographed, and did so with joy rather than shyness.

The Banjara Community has been a subject of fascination for me ever since my first days in India, when Humana People to People India invited me to document their Academies for Working Children which serve this very community. The academies are located usually in areas neglected by the government system, and tends to migrant communities and their children who are usually doing the most menial of jobs in order to support their families.

The foundation provides these children with at least three hours a day of education, striking a balance between what is possible and what is less so. The families allow their children to attend classes knowing that they are still available for work the rest of the day. To see these children, with fresh faces, taking their lessons from the teachers cannot be put into words. I will only say that most teachers on this side of the ocean would love to have such enthusiasm in their students, that same appreciation for the opportunity to learn.




Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination, cropped for the vertical perspective.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Dancer + Buick, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2015


Just this past week I received a comment from this exquisite, young woman which took my breath away. It was like receiving a present and admiring it so much even before unwrapping it. My eyes hung on every word, and were almost unable to move onto the next. From her home on the island she sent this message, which I share with all of you here:

"Es hermoso ver como las personas crecen y se desarrollan frente a las cámaras y estoy muy orgullosa de haber trabajado con este magnifico fotógrafo que siempre saca las mejores fotos mías y mis mejores ángulos te doy las gracias a ti y espero que sigas haciendo este trabajo que tanto te gusta y que sigas adelante como siempre dando lo mejor de ti."

"It's beautiful to see how people grow and develop before the cameras and I am very proud to have worked with this wonderful photographer who always brings out the best pictures of me and my best angles. I thank you and hope you keep doing this work that you like and you continue along as always giving your best."

This is from a young woman who first came into my life when she was barely 7 years old. She has grown over the years into the most intelligent, passionate and dedicated dancers with whom I have had the honor of working. If she was the only dancer on the island for me to photograph, the tickets would still be purchased.

Here she is as we stopped to pick up some items from across the railroad tracks. We asked for a shovel and she went about her language of dance while incorporating it into this series. Working with her is seamless, and as satisfying of an experience as a photographer.



Note: This series was made with a Hasselblad V System onto Kodak TMX film.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Love of a Ballerina, Santa Maria del Mar, La Habana, Cuba, 2015


In less than four weeks I will be in her presence once again, planning another session in those beautiful waters. She and her brother are exquisite dancers, and are remarkable in front of the lens. The excitement is almost too much to endure!

We met one afternoon when I walked in front of their home on a busy Havana street. Their mother was sitting just inside the landing, and to the side of some vegetables for sale. I asked permission to photograph her, and she allowed me to do so.

Just after we finished it was mentioned that two of her children were ballerinas. She called for the children to come, and after a minute the two most beautiful dancers were standing in front of me.

They were out of breath after running to us, but had smiles ear to ear. The family was incredible, and even put a dance show for me a few minutes later right inside the home. I knew right there and then that we had yet another beautiful family with which to collaborate.

I look forward to seeing them again, and to documenting their considerable talents on film!


Note: This image was made with a Fuji GA645i onto Kodak TMX film.