Friday, May 3, 2013

Barbarita + Rooftop, La Habana, Cuba

Here she stands for her portrait on my friend's rooftop, early in the morning as the sun peered over the city. From the moment she spotted us walking down the street of her previous home to this morning's session, Barbarita has always shown an interest in the work. Year after year she has given of herself without hesitation and done so in a most genuine manner. 

Whenever we call she is ready, whenever we visit her home she accepts us with love. She used to live with her mother and grandmother in a humble yet comfortable house. She used to walk those streets with her friends and enjoy the social network around her. This was true the first time we met, as she was sitting on a ledge across the street from her home with a couple of her friends. She saw us passing by with our cameras and was curious enough to follow. When we stopped to talk down the street she asked to be photographed. We told her to ask her mother and she ran off to do so, returning with her cousin to be photographed.

We did so that year only to find out that she pretended to ask her mother, all at the tender age of perhaps nine. She had a mind of her own then and has a mind of her own now as well. She lives presently in a small room with her mother, caring for an older gentleman without family. They do so in order to have the opportunity one day to live in this humble room, in a busy section of the capital. She no longer runs outside with her friends, for the street is more difficult. She has also grown up a bit and sees the realities around her. She talks frankly with me and tells me about her life in a way that touches me deeply.

She never really does ask for anything in return, and laughs gently at my interest in her. Honestly, I am enamored by her features and her graceful spirit. This young girl lives in a most difficult environment yet never sheds her joy nor her hope. I hope to one day photograph her in a different setting, and hope to improve upon the portrait above this summer.

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Halim Ina Photography