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.
 

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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.

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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. 

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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!


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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.

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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.


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Cami + Darkroom, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, Southern California, 2017


Today was spent in the darkroom printing my collaborations with Cami and starting with the first two times we worked together. I have been fortunate enough to have witnessed her incredible art over the years. Here was the first negative printed, and now the prints are on screens to dry for the night. 

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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Jasmine + Darkroom, Cleveland, Ohio, 2020








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... the entire process being analogue and made by hand! 

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Students in Uniforms, Rural Kenya, 2007


After Lebanon and India, it might be time to go way back to Kenya for the darkroom. The work is very different and will be a challenge in a good way. We'll see.

In this image are students as they waited to be photographed, and watched their friends being photographed. It was an overcast day, so we did what we could to accommodate and photographed all of them in groups. Sometimes two people, sometimes three people showed off their poses to the lens!
 

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Jasmine and Dry Lake, El Mirage, Southern California, 2017


Last month was spent in the darkroom with memories of Southern California under the enlarger. For this image Jasmine and I drove separately to El Mirage from two different cities, her from Los Angeles and me from San Francisco. We had never met before and were introduced to each other at the perfect time and the ideal space. It was an incredible afternoon, her creativity is truly remarkable. This weekend continues my work with the dancers in Los Angeles, and next week begins the printing of last summer in Lebanon. 

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