Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Incomparable, La Habana, Cuba, July of 2008

Her name has been misspelled by everyone working with me in the streets of this beautiful island. To this day I am unsure of the spelling, but feel that Cosette is most correct. When I see her this summer I will be sure to ask her to spell it for me in my notebook. Only then will I be sure.

She was one of the first photographed by me, and remains in my work until now. Just this past summer we visited with each other and made her portrait once again. She has grown up beautifully and has overcome incredible obstacles.

She lives with her two brothers and mother in the smallest of spaces, broken up into two partitions vertically so as to create space above for sleeping. The kitchen is a countertop the size of a small table, and the bathroom a small space with a curtain for privacy.

In addition to the physical limitations of her living space, this most beautiful young woman also suffers from a curvature of her spine. She has undergone multiple surgeries her lifetime, one as recent as last year. Throughout all of this her smile has never wavered, and has only grown more divine with time.

I met her one day while walking through the streets of the city, looking for faces to photograph. We noticed her walking across the street to her home and asked to photograph her. She had a serious look on her face, serious mixed with curious, and answered us with a polite refusal. As we were about twenty or so meters away she asked an older man to call for us.

Her serious look had turned into a smile like the one above, and she now wanted to be photographed. We set our bags down and proceeded to make a quick portrait of her just when all of her friends came running. We ended up photographing everyone and were in turn shown a wonderful time. From that moment to the present she and her family have treated me like one of their own.

This past year a new spirit arrived and she has become a mother. I look forward to visiting the family in July and making a portrait of a transformed woman.

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Halim Ina Photography