Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Boys, La Habana, Cuba, August 8, 2008

'Boys will be boys,' so the saying goes.

Yet from neighborhood to neighborhood, from continent to continent, it proves to be so true. In places where they have never seen me, it is most accentuated. They are the first to run towards the car, and certainly the most energetic in front of the lens. Always they want their pictures made before the girls, and love to be photographed in groups like in the image above.

In the familiar places they have come to understand the meaning behind my work and usually stay to the side, allowing me and the girls to work uninterrupted. Whether in Cuba or in Lebanon or in India, this has come to fruition through years of familiarity. Now when we show up to this neighborhood for example, the boys say their greetings, shake hands and then go about their routine. When asked to be photographed they will allow it, but only now when asked.

These seven boys live in a neighborhood visited by me perhaps over thirty times over the past eight or so years. We have photographed both the girls and boys, and all of them have their photographs. Some are more accustomed with the lens, the younger ones still getting used to being photographed of course. Some are shy, some are very assertive, and age at times has little to do with either. This image was made in the street in front of a friend's house, as cars go passing by frequently. It's a busy street and we stop now and then to allow the cars to pass.

The light shining on their skin comes from the building behind me, as the sun strikes it early in the morning. Up until twelve or so we have indirect light from this incredible source, and can make portraits with minimal shadows and maximum evenness of light. People often wonder how these are made, and a photographer familiar with this street asked me one time: where do you find the white background?

When I told him, he was still unable to believe it. For me this process revealed itself on this island, when photographing one day years ago. Upon returning to the States I realized that in some of the portraits the background faded away. With my preference for light printing, and subtle gradations of tone, the white walls disappeared. From that portrait forward this presentation has been an important facet of my work. So much so that I now need to consciously return to the inclusion of backgrounds, and have just acquired the necessary tool to do so upon my next visit to Cuba.

I very much look forward to returning with these images in July.
Halim Ina Photography

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