Sunday, June 30, 2013

Young Girl, Çingene Community, Eastern Turkey, June 7, 2013

While working with a dance company through four cities in Turkey, I was given a chance to pursue my personal vision through collaborations with a few local photographers. In the beautiful city of Muş, the air was supreme, the food organic and the people breathtakingly beautiful.

Upon seeing the nomads throughout the region, I was reminded of the Bedouin living in Lebanon. Their features were so similar, the tattoos on the faces of the older women spoke of their relation to the people of India and the Middle East at large. The children were strong, defiant and at the same time quite shy initially.

The young girl above was one such child. In two exposures immediately after each other, one can see the change in her expression, two almost completely different thoughts. This is the magic of photographing people such as her community. She and I have never met, our paths have never crossed and this is our first time taking in the culture of the other.

Her hair had the same consistency of her sisters in Lebanon, and her skin was as scorched as her kin living in India. Her lips were dry, chapped and her eyes were almost without moisture. To be in front of her at this very moment is an honor and a privilege. Through these images she has joined her sisters in my portfolio and will be met with love when her sisters do see her portrait.


Note: This image was scanned through the negative sleeves for preview only, made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination. 

Elderly Man, Village near Gaziantep, Turkey, May 27, 2013

After the morning in the studio, transportation was provided to take a few of us to a nearby village for an afternoon of photography. On our way we meet a man standing on the side of the road and ask for directions. He happened to be from an adjacent village and offered to show us the way in exchange for a ride to his home.

As we drove he asked a few questions regarding the work and then advised that his village had plenty of wonderful people to photograph. We decided to take him up on his offer and arrived at his home. He was nice enough to walk around with us and in the beginning few people were to be seen. It was after all quite early in the afternoon.

Little by little we ran across the villagers, and made their portraits as we walked through the calm streets. As our time in the village came to an end, a young man guided us to his home and then went inside to call his grandfather. All of us were astonished when this man walked out of the dark corridor. He was elegantly dressed and had an unmistakable power to him. He sat down in the shade of his home and granted us permission to photograph him.

We used natural light to make his portraits, as with all during our time in Turkey. He sat without movement while at least three of us photographed him from various angles. First his face, then his hands were documented. After we were finished we shared our gratitude and walked back to our transportation in order to head back to the city.

Later we would have a wonderful meal in an exquisite spot at the outskirts of the city, and shared the remnants of our meal with a kitten huddled at the corner of a street while searching for a taxi.

I knew at the moment above that his portrait would touch me so later upon viewing, and this has proven to be quite true.
Halim Ina Photography

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Older Man, Village outside of Ankara, Turkey, June 5, 2013

This was a day of unrest in the capital as the protests grew night after night. Just a day earlier it was decided that the project was to be cancelled and that all participants were to return to their respective cities. An idea came to me as the decision was made, to stay behind on my own and work according to my methods. I brought this up to the leaders of the project and they agreed to allow me one day in the capital and then allow me to fly back to the first city of our tour where the protests were non-existent for the most part.

So this afternoon, without the team and on my own in the city, I was helped by the good people of the U.S. Department of State, Ebru and Todd. They arranged for a car and a driver named Aykan to guide me outside of the city, to a village reminiscent of my work in the eastern portions of the country. My friend was unable to speak English and I was unable to speak Turkish, so we travelled in silence and with laughter now and then.

With the help of a mobile phone we talked with Ebru on several occasions and she guided Aykan as to my photographic needs. She never hesitated once and did so selflessly for the sake of the photography. As we drove through the village we looked at each other several times and finally made the decision to stop by an elderly man as he was working on his tractor. He seemed nice enough and a good person with whom to start. It turned out to be perfectly true, he allowed us graciously to make his portrait and then allowed his driveway to be the spot in which we photographed his friend above, as well as a few children that happened to be walking by.

While the city below us was filled with traffic, in the village few cars drove by and children walked peacefully without concern for large crowds. A shop across the street invited us in for tea and shelter since it was about to rain. The smell of the droplets as they collided with the ground was exhilarating and almost made us forget about the time.

My appreciation goes to Aykan, Ebru and Todd for my access to this good man.
Halim Ina Photography

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Young Girl, Rough Scan, Muş, Turkey, June 10, 2013

On our last day walking around the streets of Muş, brother Ömer and I returned to the same neighborhood from the previous day. The clouds had set in early the day before and we wanted to make sure we made the best portraits for the girls. It so happened that five or so girls were standing on the corner and were deeply enthused to see us, almost as much as we were to find them finished with school.

We located a white wall around the corner from the main home and used a reflector to produce the highlights/shadows in the portraits. We worked hard to make it easier for this young girl and this was one of two exposures only before her mother called her away, ending her collaboration with us.

There are good moments and there are less than perfect ones in my photography. We tried to talk with the family but they refused to allow us any further. Frustration set in even more so because of my inability to communicate with the family directly. It was clearly evident that the young girl wanted to continue as she waved her hands in the air when her older brother talked with us. She was deeply saddened but never once showed any hints of the negative towards us.

Thirty or so minutes later we were walking home when we saw an older man sitting on the side of a shop. He invited us to a conversation and allowed us to make his portrait. All of the girls happened to be following us and stopped alongside us to photograph this man. A few minutes into the session this young girl also joined us and had the sweetest, most subtle presence. She was certainly the adult in this interaction and had a calming sense about her. She made me feel that everything was fine, that she understood my intentions and the source of my frustrations, for she lives in this neighborhood and with these limitations every minute of her life.

I reached out to her as she was standing to my right, touched her gently and whispered in her language a word signifying that she was fine in my eyes. She responded with grace and kindness, through her smile. We were both at peace with ourselves.

This was scanned through the negative sleeve just a few minutes ago and cleaned up a bit, all the while my heart was beating madly. I couldn't have hoped for a more perfect image, and am thrilled that we were able to do so for her. We will return next year and hope that her family will amend their decision.
Halim Ina Photography

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Snapshot, Man, Gaziantep, Turkey, May 29, 2013

He walks towards our car from sitting with his friends after he had agreed to be photographed, quite curious as to the gear we were pulling out of the trunk. He might have thought of a small camera and a quick snapshot, but was more than gracious in allowing us to document him with the medium format camera mounted on a considerable tripod.

We were driving on the road perpendicular to this small path when we noticed his features from the car. We slowed down a bit and my dear friend Ali agreed to step out and have a short conversation with the three men. To our delight this older man agreed to our presence and even allowed us to photograph the others from his family.

With his permission we moved his chair into the sunlight and began with a formal portrait of his face, then moved onto making images of his incredibly beautiful hands. He was surprised at my attraction to his hands, but allowed it nonetheless after seeing a few examples of such in my photographic album.

After seeing our work a few of the boys wanted their portraits made and we did so in a candid manner with the handheld camera. A roll or so were also exposed on film of this man's son when my eyes noticed the women sitting in the distance watching. With a whisper I communicated to Ali my desire to include the women and in the same whisper he advised me that this would be near to impossible.

I respected Ali's advice of course, wanting to do anything but to get him into trouble. However the urge to do so overtook me and without the use of a common language my thoughts were communicated to the men in charge with gestures, and honest pleas with a smile.

To my pleasant surprise they agreed kindly and allowed me to make portraits of two of the young women. To my greater surprise the two young women walked over in front of so many men to have their portraits made without a single sign of hesitation. They were strong and confident, albeit quite reserved with their words. They stood for their portraits as strong as any of the women in my portfolio and, considering the circumstances around them, without equal.

I look forward to this man's portrait, to the images of his hands and to the results of the young women's portraits in the coming days as the negatives are reviewed.
Halim Ina Photography

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Best Friends + Dancers, La Habana, Cuba, July of 2012

They are the best of friends, have grown up together in the same neighborhood, attend the same schools and enjoy dance classes in the same company. Their names begin with the same letter and they are of the same age. They are inseparable yet present incredibly unique personalities to the camera.

One day as Alejandro, Eldo and I were heading back home after looking for a photographic location on the famous walkway. We spotted the young woman above walking around with two older woman. She was dressed in her ballet costume and the older women were trying to make images as the sun set with a compact camera. We talked with them for a few minutes, shared our portfolio and then assisted them with a few photographs as their camera had run out of batteries. We shared our information with them and hoped that they would call us later in the week to arrange a photographic session.

The days passed and we never heard from them, thought that perhaps they changed their minds. Then one day upon returning to the home we received a message that they had called and were interested in the photography. We talked to them and at the last minute asked if perhaps another dancer would be interested, giving each dancer a chance to rest a bit during the session. We made plans for a morning and provided them the benefit of Alejandro's transportation to a private spot for the photography.

We picked them up early one morning and headed out to the wonderful Pan American Stadium once again to their surprise. They had perhaps passed by this stadium numerous times without thinking that one day it would be their backdrop. We then proceeded to work for the next two hours under the hot sun and with the most courageous of young women. The portraits above are from early on in the session, as the sun was just rising, allowing them to be photographed with a more subtle light.

I very much look forward to handing each young woman her own album in less than four weeks, and to arranging more exciting venues for sessions this July/August.
Halim Ina Photography

Friday, June 14, 2013

Man, Mosque, Muş, Turkey, May 22, 2013

In this conservative part of Turkey I would have thought entering a mosque with a camera would be looked down upon. It turned out on several occasions that all were open to the idea and allowed themselves to be photographed while in the process of their readings. For the image above the camera was placed onto the ground for the long exposure.

One never knows the reactions of people to the work, and I was pleasantly surprised to have been allowed to document this man. Both film and digital media were used, and he went on with his reading without pause. In the less conservative regions to the west I was advised to refrain from doing so, and this gave me further appreciation for my time in the east. People are at times quick to categorize a region, and the image above has taught me much about this.

One never knows unless they ask it seems. This was my first image in Turkey, and happened to be in the part of the country that made my photography feel most at home. People were most receptive to the work, and the camera in itself was a source of fascination. Of course the image is commonplace all over Turkey, but the presence of an outsider in this part of Turkey was less so. As a result the emotions garnered were true and genuine, and the relationships formed most beautiful.

This I have learned is the reward of following the path less travelled.
Halim Ina Photography

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Barber, Muş, Turkey, May 22, 2013

On my first visit to the wonderful city of Muş I walked around a bit and photographed some of the local businesses. The man above owned a shop across the street from the mosque and invited us in for tea while working. He was kind enough to allow me to document his craft while serving us with the famous Turkish tea.

The space was small but comfortable and we worked for perhaps twenty or so minutes before moving on up the street to find more faces to document. The pace of his work was incredibly fast while his cuts were most precise.

When I returned to Muş due to the protests happening in the western parts of Turkey, we seemed to run into each other almost every day. Whether this happened while I was having breakfast with a friend or discovering various hidden parts of the old city, he would always smile and wave as he walked by us. The people around me would always be surprised in that people had come to know me in such a small period of time. I found it an honor to be recognized and to have been accepted with such kindness.
Halim Ina Photography

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Woman with the Clear Eyes, Awaiting her First Child, La Habana, Cuba, July of 2012

She is now 20 years old and has had her first child. From a little girl swimming just off of the shore in La Habana to a teacher responsible for her own class of children, I have admired and followed her over the past eight years. The portrait above is one of a pregnant, young woman worlds away from that first moment we met.

I remember when she walked into my friend's home with her clear eyes lit by a single bare bulb in the room. Her eyes continue to illuminate the world around her, and have become a source of kindness in my life. Whenever she receives our company we are treated like family. She always serves us with freezing water and the warmest of hearts. I have seen her grow up, make the transition from a curious girl to a less than enthusiastic teenager and back to that same curiosity. She very much appreciates her  portraits and the compliments shared with her from the admirers of her images.

Although being photographed in direct sunlight is anything but easy for her, she has never refused it and like very few with clear eyes maintains her composure throughout. She received her eyes from her mother and has hopefully passed on these eyes, along with her kind demeanor, to her first son. She lives with her mother and stepfather, along with her grandfather and half-sister, in a single room home split in half vertically to allow a sleeping area upstairs. 

Her neighbors have grown accustomed to witnessing my continued desire to document her, yet find it somewhat strange at the same time. To them she is just another girl... but to me she is everything.

I of course look forward to visiting her this summer and to making her portrait once again, along with the portrait of her newborn child.
Halim Ina Photography