Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Man + Sunglasses + Cigar, Corner of the Street, La Habana, Cuba, July of 2008

His image is that of the iconic Cuban, the generation of the Revolution with a cigar between his lips, photographed from beneath to accentuate the dignity, strength and character. Yet we know nothing about this man, nothing about his thoughts regarding the history of his island. He might just enjoy a cigar now and then, he might just have a cool disposition towards the world of politics.

The only thing I knew is that he was interested in the photography happening on the corner of his street. We were photographing a young girl and he of course knew her family. I pulled out the albums of pictures to demonstrate the nature of my work, and we talked a bit while waiting for the ideal light to develop.

I told him that I had been photographing his neighbor for perhaps three years at the time of this portrait. He was intrigued by the equipment, its vintage styling and history. He knew of the Hasselblad name, and the Zeiss lenses.

After a few minutes I asked permission to make his portrait, and he allowed me to do so. The tripod and camera were arranged quickly, and he stood in the middle of the street. I positioned the camera beneath him in order to gain the sky as a background. With the right exposure the sky would fade away,  leaving me with his outline and nothing else. I remember trying to focus on his eyes but having trouble due to the tint of the glasses. I then went ahead and focused on the corner of his glasses, hoping to achieve focus on the eyes thanks to the depth of field.

He thanked me for the portrait and then walked to his home. A year later I returned to the street to photograph the same girl of course and to hand him his portrait. He was deeply appreciative of the gesture, and proved to me yet again that returning to the homes of the people does more for the work than just about anything else.

Getting to some of these places is hard enough, and this is quite clear to the people in the images. To return to these same places, to show interest in the same people rather than moving on to the next 'big thing' shows them the true intent of my work. They in turn show me a love, a humanity, that has yet to be surpassed in my life. I appreciate them beyond words and their appreciation in return cannot be put into words easily. The best thing for me to do is to continue with the work and honor them with the images.

Halim Ina Photography