Monday, January 30, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
On the day this image was made, her school was open and girls walked in and out freely. A young girl from the village, barely older than her students, was the teacher. The classroom was provided by her own village. They took turns walking up to the wall and writing with the same piece of chalk.
On this day all of the girls gathered on the roof of the school, as the sun faded behind us over the mountaintop. For a minute, we talked back and forth about the impossibility of making portraits according to my needs. The girls and their mothers watched as we talked frantically about what to do, worrying that we might lose the chance to do what we had already done for the other schools.
I asked permission to move a bench and the women help me, laughing all of the way at my seemingly erratic thought process. We placed the bench in front of a stack of straw and ask the girls to sit upon it, facing the sun now set over the mountains. The softest of light caressed their faces and allowed me to make images for them.
In my mind the entire time was the promise of next year, and a return to this village with better plans.
Two years later the schools run by the foundation closed. She has nonetheless never been forgotten by me. A fruitful conversation has been initiated with the foundation and we have every intention of locating the funding and reopening her school, as well as nine other schools in the area.
Presently, with the help of Dolly, we are in the process of presenting this proposal to a list of corporations, foundations and schools. We hope that they also see the value in the education of a girl and join us in this worthwhile endeavor.
Should you, the reader, have any ideas that could help, your message will be received with an open mind. A benefit is being planned for the schools with the guidance of a dear friend named Mike. As plans become clearer more information will be provided.
Halim Ina Photography
Friday, January 27, 2012
A week or so ago we discuss the thought of documenting his students, and his school. We talk about the details, and without a single hesitation this good man agrees to allow me to photograph the women in our first session. Diplomacy and kindness are displayed in every single one of his words.
We plan on an evening, and cancel once due to my schedule. We try again and this time my focus is completely on the school, on the students. I arrive before class begins and am enabled by the master to set up my equipment as I wish. I do so at the other end of the studio, while the rest of the students arrive. They begin the lesson while my lighting is set up.
We begin with the Master of course, making it a bit easier for the younger female students to begin. He is thoughtful, precise with his movements. He understands my needs as a photographer and holds his positions for me. He moves from one position to another effortlessly.
We then call our first student, the younger of the two women. We begin with simple gestures, then document various positions, movements. Her presence is incredibly poignant, and holds my attention through four or so rolls of film. She has never been in front of a lens before outside of her mother's, yet she is able to communicate with a clarity few possess.
We ask her to take a break and return after a little bit of time for her next session. She smiles ever so gently and goes back to her lesson. The next young woman comes over and leaves her hair up for the session. She is a seasoned student, both in Gung Fu and in ballet. With only the slightest of explanations, she places her body and arms in positions favorable to my eye.
Roll after roll are exposed in joy, and we celebrate by bringing students and Master together for a few portraits as well. We move the lights to a different position for more directional lighting, and make a series of the two students in various positions. Then we set the background up once again for the younger student. She knows that we have saved a few more rolls for her and seems to shine with happiness.
Her hair is up this time, beautifully scuplted while she waited for her turn. She once again displays an uncanny ability to both concentrate on her positions and to look directly at the camera. In the end she is made aware that my work with her will continue perhaps as early as next week, and through the rest of the year as well. This bit of news makes both young students quite happy, almost as happy as me.
Instead of walking to their cars, all of the students help me with my equipment, stand out in the rain next to my car and help me load it into the trunk. This evening they teach me the meaning of humanity, of respect. I will return next week perhaps to this beautiful corner of the world.
Halim Ina Photography
Friday, January 20, 2012
Yet another image from our first collaborative set.
Even though Sylvia needs to be at work earlier than most in the morning, she gives her time without a single complaint. While many might resist the preparation necessary for this image, she gives of herself while being weighed down by an entire length of electrical cord.
We walk back and forth from my studio and to the end of the hallway. We attempt to remain quiet but often times burst out in laughter. She is an incredible spirit, and Praxa's creativity is infectious.
We use one source of light, and a reflector on the other side.
While Sylvia has rarely modeled, one could never tell from her portraits. She is a complete natural.
I look forward to documenting her spirit once again.
Halim Ina Photography
Friday, January 6, 2012
People ask me about my trip out to Los Angeles: 'So what did you do out there, photograph models?'
There is a notion that perhaps models are different. While they may be so in certain instances, my experience out West taught me that they are very much like the women in my portfolio from Asia and Africa. They have their stories to tell, and can do so quite eloquently.
One such example is my creative sister, Vamptress LeeAnna. This young woman drove almost two hours just to meet me for an afternoon. She came out with an incredible man, and his support made this collaboration that much more meaningful.
The weather was misbehaving and rather than going along with the mood of the weather, they spoke only positive words and allowed me to lead them a bit further up the road, perhaps twenty minutes or so until we found an area full of sunshine just past the rim of the clouds. We exited the main road and then drove around looking for a spot, one that allowed for images made against a light wall and images made against the backdrop of the sky.
We found one, in the middle of a new development, and parked our cars. Vamptress took a few minutes to get ready while we set up for images against the yellow wall at first. The image above is from this series. The range of her expressions was indescribable, she went from the expression of a stranger to that of an old friend, within a few frames, from sultry to familiar within seconds.
Tomorrow will be spent in the darkroom printing these images, along with her selections. Rather than being photographed and walking away, this young woman has become my sister and continues to inspire me.
Halim Ina Photography