As we were walking back home I noticed out of the corner of my eyes this gentle man sitting on a ledge. He nodded my way and shared his smile, thus making him irresistible to photograph. We walked over and had an extensive conversation, finding out that he just happened to be in the city for a few days and was visiting his family from the countryside.
He was well into his seventies yet moved like a young man. His manner of speech was filled with exuberance and his muscle tone made me feel quite happy that a shirt was covering my skin. We talked about life on his farm and noted that he was a most peaceful man. While so many in the city wore faces of sadness, understandably so, joy oozed out with this man's words.
We asked to make his portrait and he was beyond willing. He asked me my thoughts about position, and I advised him that we'd make one without the hands and one with the hands. Looking back now I am so glad that we decided to include the hands, a rarity for me.
He was sitting on a ledge at a busy crossroad. People walked past us in every direction and looked once in a while at the tourist talking with the Cuban. We used the light bouncing off of the building on the opposite side of the street, and exposed these images onto higher speed film than usual to increase the depth of field while capturing the stillness of the moment.
My bags were placed directly in front of him and underneath me in order to minimize the reflected light from beneath us. In this way we would maintain shadows from under his features and maximize the highlights from above.
He was a natural, moved his hands between exposures until the roll was finished. We exposed two rolls of film and then continued with the conversation. We bid each other farewell and continued on our way home.
I will of course visit his family's home to drop off the pictures this summer, and hope to drive out to his farm in the future to continue this collaboration. These are the moments for which my camera exists.