Sunday, September 24, 2017

Young Student + Rooftop of School, Halim Ina, Shamli District, India, 2017


The faces in this village amazed me every single year, as this young student stepped up for her portrait. There was something about them which was impossible for me to explain. My hope is that the camera has done a better job at communicating this variable to the viewers.

The day before we photographed the older students, yet this day was for her and her younger friends. When we walked down from the rooftop to gather the girls from their class, we were greeted with the most excited students. They just couldn't wait to be called, and jumped up without asking permission from their teacher. Thank goodness we had done so earlier, as the teacher watched the students run up the stairs.

Being photographed inside was something they loved. This allowed them a sense of privacy rarely experienced by them. Here they were, with their best friends and free to do as they wished in front of the lens. Thus the smiles began to show themselves more freely.

Having reviewed the film from these days in Uttar Pradesh, it is my firm belief that this form of photography will take precedence next year in India and beyond. The combination of gentle light and their freedom to express was something to behold, even more so six months later on medium format film base.


Website
Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

EGOS + Gysleda, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2017


She is as powerful as any in my work, and as elegant at the same time. There are few who possess her presence in front of the lens, and even less who have her humility. We have known each other for almost a decade now, yet she treats my visits to her school EGOS like the first.

When asked to be photographed, she accepts with the energy of those being photographed for the first time. The only task for me is to make sure there is enough film in the bag, and to release the shutter at the right moments. It is an honor and a privilege to be one of the school's photographers, and I do hope that next year will allow us to collaborate even more so.

For this session we visited our familiar spot once again. This is our studio on the island, for it allows us to work without disturbance both from the public and from the authorities. The car is parked next to the space, and all can change clothing in the privacy of the car.

Photographing her is like a dance, there is a rhythm to her movements. She listens to the shutter being released and then moves to her next thought. It is just a matter of knowing when to move along with her, and this is a lesson which keeps being taught to me every time we collaborate. Perhaps in ten more years I will catch up to her, and truly transfer to film her immeasurable talents.


Website
Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Local Girl + Village Near Advaita Garden, Alwar, Rajasthan, India, 2017


This past trip to India was a revelation photographically, bringing me closer to the children than in previous years. Thanks to my dear brothers Mukesh and Tejpal, we walked through the villages near Advaita Garden with camera in hand. 

Without such guidance, it is nearly impossible to walk through rural India and make meaningful portraits. We met this young girl when we searched for her cousin one day, a girl with incredibly clear eyes. It turned out that this young girl was a natural in front of the camera.

On this day she walked over to us as her cousin walked away to collect water for the family. Her hair was as seen in this photograph, and she was about to pull it back when we asked her to leave it alone. She was pleasantly surprised at the request, smiling along the way to this wall. We tried to find a spot with subdued sunlight, and chose this space. She positioned herself so that the sunlight touched her face as we released the shutter.

I look forward to printing this negative in the darkroom soon!


Website
Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/100 mm combination onto Ilford Delta film.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Students + Flower, Rooftop, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017


Having returned from a summer in Cuba, I look forward to presenting our work in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to those of us involved and interested. Under the guidance of Nirvana and his team at Nirvanavan Foundation, we are proceeding with an interfaith collaboration in the Shamli District of Uttar Pradesh. 

This is made possible thanks to the hard work of Imdadullah and his community in the region, and to the generosity of two dozen people from this very circle. By the time of my visit early next year, our hope is that we have established the new school in these girls' village, as well as three sewing centers in the area.

The funds have been raised, and the first quarter has been presented... awaiting transfer in October to the foundation. Once such is done the materials can be produced, and the new school may begin. These two young girls will soon have a formal curriculum in between their religious studies, in this very space.

The need is great, and there are literally dozens of villages in the region deserving of such a collaboration. We hope that this school can be a model for such a movement, truly.


Website


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Three Friends + Rooftop, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017


At times when it seems this work will fall short, my mind drifts far away to this village and thinks of these students. They are and have always been the inspiration behind the work. It is for them that so many of you have come together, and it is for them that Nirvana Bodhisattva and his team at Nirvanavan Foundation move forward in this region.

These are the younger students from the village, yet have had almost four years of experience with the photography. Earlier this year we discovered photography in this room and my work was reborn. They have given so much to me, and thanks to all of you the work is going to give back so much to them.

As in the previous posts, I am honored to notify all of you that 50% of the funding is on its way and the remaining 50% has already been raised.


Congratulations to all of you, to all of the girls in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh!

Website
Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Young Ballerina + Countryside, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2017


It has taken me over a dozen years to begin to see below the surface on the island, and in those dozen years the families have bestowed upon me the deepest of honors: access to their most precious, their children. While I do enjoy walking the streets and making the random portraits, it is these lifelong relationships which fuel my drive to return year after year.

A single portrait of a laborer in the streets of Havana is priceless, but to have these children call me while on the island for a session is beyond my capacity to describe. Over the last few years, the number of tourists with cameras on the island has exploded.

This past year, one question kept creeping up on me: has the sentiment between photographer and subject on the streets disappeared in the city? Years ago, when I walked around with my camera on a tripod, the reaction was much less skeptical and much more inquisitive. The past few years have proven the reverse for me, while my relationships with the families has proven to be the best of investments.

Such a relationship is the reason behind this young dancer's portrait. On this afternoon her father called to tell me that the weather looked good, and we might have a chance at an afternoon session. We of course had our cameras with us, and made our way to their home. The parents wanted something different, and so we drove out to the countryside.

It was a familiar neighborhood, but we decided to cross to the other side of the railroad tracks in search of homes. We ran across this one and its owner granted us permission immediately. So we set up our cameras and began at this location first. We were able to use the outside, as well as the inside of the home, making for some memorable images.

She was just magnificent, and showed us how much she had changed over the past few years. Such a session in direct sunlight would have been very difficult for her then, but this year she reveled in the sunlight. She and her family will always have my admiration.

It is my sincerest honor to be given this opportunity, and in a few weeks when the film is processed my hope is that we have done justice on her behalf.


Website
Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Students + Rooftop, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017


For those of us involved with this new school, and for those interested in joining, these two students share their smiles. Thanks to the guidance of Nirvana and the hard work of his team at Nirvanavan Foundation, much of the groundwork has already been accomplished and we are poised to join Imdadullah and his community in Shamli District.

While the education of the students is of primary importance, we have arranged to establish sewing centers in four villages as well. This will provide an alternative to the parents who may feel uncomfortable sending their girls to secondary schools far away from their villages, as is the case in this region.

The school in which these two stand will also be painted beautifully this year, as a gesture of goodwill to a community which has given so much. The children are truly selfless and give of themselves without hesitation. Their elders have been so kind, and have taught me many lessons over the past four years.

Early next year I will join these very girls in this room, and share the love from this very circle with them... thank you all!


Website
Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Young Students + Window Light, Shamli District, UP, India, 2017


Once again a portrait of two students is being shared with those of us involved in their new school. Thanks to Nirvana and his team at Nirvanavan Foundation the possibility of this school was born, and thanks to those tagged within this post that possibility has turned into a reality.

My photographic work began in this district thanks to Asrar, who had taken me there to document the thousands of refugees from the recent Muzaffarnagar riots. This was one village which we visited, and I fell in love with the area. While the children were of course beautiful and the environment surrounding the homes took my breath away, it was the generous nature of the supporting families which impressed me most.

So last year Nirvana provided me with incredible insight, making it clear to me that something needed to be done. The local elders did the same, asking for our help in the education of their grandchildren. This was the impetus in bringing the new school to your attention, and thanks to your generosity the first donation has already been sent, while the second donation is only a few weeks from being sent as well. This will allow us to remain on schedule, and all can rest assured that the first two years' worth of budget has already been put aside.


Website
Congratulations to all, and thank you in advance for allowing me to tag you!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Congregation of Sheep, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India, 2017


Earlier this year we did something different, we explored the western landscape of Rajasthan without much of a plan. With the help of my dear friend Mukesh, and the guidance of Nirvana, it turned out to be a great experience.

We talked as we drove, stopped whenever we wanted and took the camera out when the scene showed itself to us. In this instance, we witnessed some sheep gathered without movement. It was a striking scene, and as we walked closer to the animals they remained together without movement.

This region is within 25 kilometers of Pakistan, and was filled with pure silence. Traffic was non-existent, and sand was everywhere. The Muslim community treated us well, but informed us that none of the villages in the region would allow photography. They had gotten together years ago and agreed upon this, mostly due to the fact that the area is filled with tourists and, while they worked with these tourists as guides, they wished to preserve their privacy at home. 


Website
So we photographed sand dunes, and sheep, and had a great time doing so!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Turn + Smile, Rajasthan, India, 2017


For those of us who have come forth on behalf of 240 children in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, this image of one student is being presented. My hope is that her joy is clear to all of us, that even though she is turned, we can see the extreme happiness in her expression. This is the magic of an education, the power of hope. Thanks to all of you the new school will begin later this year in Uttar Pradesh, as well as four new sewing classes both in Rajasthan and in Uttar Pradesh.

With the guidance of Nirvana Bodhisattva and Imdadullah Nadvi Nadvi, your donations will be put to good use. Last month the first quarter of the budget was sent, and next month the first half of the budget will be met. Now that I am back from the summer in Cuba images will be posted, and stories shared. All of you can rest assured that the progress will be noted for all of us to witness.

A sincere thank you for all of us, to all of you!


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm lens combination.