Thursday, December 6, 2012

Baker and Light Bulb, La Habana, Cuba, July, 2010

After we finished photographing a young girl a few meters away, we began walking around the corner to my friend's home. This man was sitting down on the sidewalk and holding an intact light bulb found in the garbage container on the corner.

He was shirtless and seemingly hanging out with a few of his friends. I had my 35 mm camera in hand and walked close enough to make this image of him with permission of course, concentrating on the light bulb as the point of focus. Only after focusing on the bulb itself through the viewfinder was it noticed that a reflection had formed, a reflection of me and my friend. In addition, the home of the girl photographed a few minutes earlier, a corner store previously, was our background. Perhaps six negatives were exposed and we thanked him before moving on to my friend's home.

Earlier this year I decided to print a few smaller negatives in the midst of my medium format printing. This negative was selected and printed to my delight, and has pushed me in the direction of street photography more so. Working with the smaller format is a liberating feeling and only compliments the larger format work.

Upon returning to the island this year the print was included in my album to show the people. The young boy, the brother of the girl photographed moments before this image was made, spoke this man's name and pointed out his work place. It turned out that this man was resting between shifts and that he worked as a baker in the corner bakery. His hands, rather than being covered with dirt, were covered with flour from his work place.

This image alone has taught me so much, from the lessons noted above to the idea that much more needs to be researched before forming an opinion regarding the person in an image. Rather than bringing a copy of his portrait to him, thinking he was anonymous, I was left without a second print to hand to him. In light of this predicament, the original print was removed from the album and handed to him. His sincere appreciation touched me deeply, deepened my understanding of the work itself.

Now every time we pass by the bakery I remember this man, and his light bulb.

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Halim Ina Photography