Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Three Women, Smiles All Around, Humana People to People India, Rajasthan, India, November, 2009

As a constant guest to these incredible places, I cannot understate the significance of a smile in my work.

So much of the subject matter is deeply serious, and the people involved in the work a most dedicated group. As a result, when smiles break out in such a setting everyone breathes in a more relaxed fashion. Here are three women involved in the education of pregnant women, witnesses to a world where even the most basic medical care is out of reach for those very women whom they encounter.

In spite of these and other difficulties, they take a moment to laugh for the camera. They impress on me the need to have hope in the midst of suffering. They will themselves go home after their time in this village and prepare the meals for their families, clean the house and more than likely go with their daughters to fetch water from great distances.

They inspire me to do more for their daughters, and my hope is that they inspire you, the reader.

Halim Ina Photography

Education, Medicine, Humana People to People, Rajasthan, India, November, 2009

In this image is a team of women dedicated to the development of medical care in this and other villages.

Standing in the back is an assistant to the medical specialist seated in front. The taller, young woman is a student and lives in the home with this courtyard. She has been photographed by me for the past six years and is as gentle as a person can be.

The other two women work with Humana People to People India, and do so diligently without being asked. One is training at the moment, and is from the south of India. The other woman associated with Humana People to People India, with her hair covered,  has known me since my first days in India.

Here they pose for a group portrait after administering medical care to women from this village, focusing mainly on early childhood development and the care of the pregnant woman. They review various topics ranging from nutrition to preventive care. Women leading the development of care for women.

In this beautiful home also lives the teacher for the now closed Humana People to People school for girls, the mother of the taller girl in the picture. She has also known me for over six years and always treats me to a wonderful meal in her home.

I cannot put into words how this family has affected me. The work continues on their behalf.

Halim Ina Photography

Monday, February 27, 2012

Proud Mother of Student, Humana People to People India, Banganga, Rajasthan, India, November, 2009

On this day I am taught yet another lesson.

We venture away from the school a little bit to photograph the parents of the students. We find ourselves in the midst of a few parents in between two homes. We are of course treated kindly and offered tea. After a few moments we are given the chance to begin our work.

I find a nice spot for the women, and arrange a cot upon which for them to sit. The young girls want to go first and are allowed by their mothers. When the time comes for the older women, they instead choose to sit upon a plastic chair. Curious by their choice, I ask the good people from the foundation about it.

I'm told that they cannot sit upon the cot because it is for the men. This is especially true in the presence of men, and instinctual even in the absence of their husbands. They turn the cot on its side and bring out the chair for the session.

It's difficult to explain my reaction at the moment, to see women with great pride being deprived of such a choice. I am humbled by their strength and make their portraits in silence.

This experience moves me even more so to support the schools for their girls, to locate funding to keep their doors open for years to come.

Halim Ina Photography

Aspiring Student, Humana People to People, Rajasthan, India, November, 2009

After our session this afternoon she sits down in front of her home for a relaxed portrait. She belongs to a school now closed due to lack of funding, and aspires to return to her classes. Humana People to People has been generous enough to support a school in her village all of these years, to speak to her elders regarding her education and to allow me the chance to help reopen the schools at this moment.

The time has come to approach larger circles, including foundations and corporations on this side of the pond with interests in Asia and beyond. We hope to find the funding, perhaps $25,000 for ten schools, and to return this winter in order to document the joy on their faces. A local school has been kind enough to listen to our proposal, and perhaps early next year will include us in their international efforts.

On another level, a good man named Mike has taken it upon himself to approach his clients, his colleagues and his connections regarding this project. He has written letters to local media, to people of influence and means. His kindness has given me even more impetus to move forward, to continue upon this humble path.

On this day, this young girl takes extreme pride in her post as hostess for our small group. She helps bring the milk, the meal to the room behind her for us. She watches in wonder as we have our meal, as my inability to ingest spicy food turns into one empty glass of milk after another. My friends sit on the bench behind her, while I sit on the one unseen to her left.

During our meal one of my friends spills the large container holding the milk. The reactions of everyone involved teach me much about this beautiful part of the world. My friend displays a most genuine sense of mourning, while the host family displays nothing but kindness and smiles in return. Even though such a resource is scarce for any family in this area, they show me what it means to give without asking for anything in return.

Her smile above is the smile she shares with us as we fumble to apologize for the accident.

The work will continue, and my life will always include her.

Halim Ina Photography

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Additional Images, Session with Kittie, Studio, Cleveland, Ohio, February 10, 2012

The incredible fact is that these are just a few of the outfits that are in her closet.

We will run out of film before she runs out of ideas, out of facets to present.

The lighting chosen for these images reflects my desire to include her within my larger portfolio. It's muted and subtle, in line with images made in the streets of Cuba. When I visit that beautiful island in July of this year, her images will be shared with her sisters in Habana and elsewhere.

Halim Ina Photography

Kittie, Sister, Model, Studio, Cleveland, Ohio, February 10, 2012

Near the end of the session, she steps into the other room to change her presentation and comes out transformed. Rather than easing into the end of a hard three hours, she shows me the meaning of dedication and gives me yet another perspective of her beautiful spirit.

This is our second collaboration, with many more to come. She respects the people in my portfolio and sees them as her brothers and sisters. When asked to bring timeless pieces to our sessions, her only concern is to keep the number of outfits manageable. We are on the same page, the same paragraph and certainly close to the same sentence.

She understands my need for dark pieces. Everything she brings along is just perfect. She listens beautifully and compliments the collaboration rather than forcing it.

Her boyfriend, a brother to me, adds yet another dimension to our session. While working his presence reminds me of a guitar in my home, unused for over twenty years. I go into the next room and bring it out for him to see. The joy in his eyes is clearly visible.

He is amazed that such an instrument has been dormant for so long. He replaces the broken string, tunes it effortlessly by ear and then begins to play for us. In an instant it comes to me that he might be interested in a collaboration, his music to my upcoming short film. I share this with him and he responds immediately. He asks me about the mood of the film, about the subject matter.

A few minutes later he begins playing a piece composed on the spot. It's as if he read my mind, listened to the hearts of the people in my portfolio. It is these moments that make this work my purpose in life. What else is needed?

I find the answer to this simple: nothing.

Halim Ina Photography

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jenesis, Model, Friend, Studio, Cleveland, Ohio, February 1, 2012

Before she arrives this evening for her session with me, Jenesis allows me to preview her wardrobe through images. Rather than selecting pieces and then advising me of her choices, she listens gently to my request for darker, timeless pieces and organizes her wardrobe to reflect my request.

In this image, Jenesis displays an outfit from her past and tells me the story behind it, giving the image that much more meaning. She moves from one pose to another effortlessly and changes her expressions at the same time. We make images with direct light and also include images like the one above with indirect light.

She arrives early in the evening and stays until early in the morning, going through my portfolio as well as selecting three images for us to print. Rather than being in a hurry to leave after the session, she engages me in a conversation regarding some of the people in my work, showing a sweet sensitivity to their stories.

She selects a print from my portfolio to also take home with her as a gift, and it is a print of a young Cuban girl, a selection made even more fitting due to the physical characteristics shared by both. She sees in herself this young girl and shares her love for her with me.

Her trust in me, and in my work, is exemplary and provides me with a serenity that comes with having photographed a beautiful spirit. We will collaborate once again and soon.

Halim Ina Photography

Ainsley and Julia, Studio, Cleveland, Ohio, January 27, 2012

Before we arrange for our session, this young model goes out of her way to send images of her outfits and of her vision for the collaboration. Rather than sending a few vague adjectives, she lays out the pieces of clothing and makes individual images for me to see.

She accommodates my schedule, is driven by a loyal friend named Julia from a great distance, and allows me to photograph her until quite late in the night. Upon being lost on the way up, rather than turning around and going back home without calling me, they drive for a considerable amount of time until they are able to get a hold of me. They maintain their composure and present with an enthusiasm that allows the session to proceed without a single issue.

She lays out her pieces once again for me to see, and changes from one to another without a single complaint. We listen to their choice of music, and make images along the way. In her first session with me a level of communication is achieved that at times takes several sessions. We finish the collaboration by sharing a few prints, then bid farewell until our next session.

Over the next two weeks or so, she maintains contact with me, shares our images through her social network, and does so proudly. She assures me that she would like nothing better than to perform once again for my camera, and is honored to be included in my family of portraits.

The fact is that she is a sister to those in my portfolio and has the humility to assume the honor.

We will be collaborating once again this Friday and I look forward to what she brings to the session.

Halim Ina Photography