Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Syrian + Beauty, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Summer of 2010


She stands here in front of a neighbor's tent, blasted even in her tent city by a western philosophy of beauty, yet completely unaffected by it. In one expression she carries more confidence that can be painted on by any stylist, make-up artist or photoshop specialist!

After we made these images this young girl was walking next to me and looked at me as she always does. She is as close to a daughter to me in Lebanon, and said these words to me in response to a conversation, part of it was acknowledging the mutual sentiment of holding hands while we walked while knowing that such was impossible.

'You are my father, my brother and my son.'

I have known her since birth and her expressions have always been deeply moving.


www.halimina.org

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Two Ballerinas + Beach, Santa Maria Del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013




Now we can see their movements through this short documentary. Without a hint of direction each girl finds her own poses, and exhibits the most incredible sense of space. The sky seems to have been painted by the masters of two centuries ago, fitting for their most timeless qualities.

Please make sure to watch it in HD, worth the short wait!

www.halimina.org

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ballerina + Beach + Footsteps, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013



We met as she was walking her dance classes with her best friend and both of their grandmothers. In the city ballerinas are seemingly everywhere. We saw them standing for a minute and decided to walk over and introduce ourselves. The grandmothers accepted us with open arms after seeing the images, while the girls themselves spoke with the joy on their faces. They were so curious about what was being presented to them.

We exchanged contact information and went our separate ways. A few days later we arranged the first session and drove around prior to collecting them looking for the perfect spot. We looked for a north-south street with one white wall facing west and an opposing light wall to reflect the sunlight of a late morning. Once we found it we picked up the girls and their grandmothers and headed back to the spot. 

The images from that first session helped our friendship grow and resulted in a fuller experience the second time around. The image presented here is from our second year together. We have since then moved the photography to the beach and have found it to be a liberating space for the girls. It also helps that they are treated to their time in the water after the photography is finished, all while their grandmothers wait so patiently for them, the entire time standing and chatting among themselves.

These are her footsteps as we arrived to the beach, and this was her hair as we finished with the session. While 'castles made of sand slip into the sea eventually' as one musical genius stated decades ago, her footsteps have been preserved onto film.

www.halimina.org

Note: These images were made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Model + Wet Hair, Artemisa, Cuba, Summer of 2013


The day after our session with the ballerinas, Alejandro and I decided to take up an invitation by a modeling school an hour or so from the city. We traveled there the week prior but found only clouds, so we filmed the modeling and headed back to the city.

On this day we decided that we can make it out to the school and back to the beach to work with one of our main families. Alejandro placed the call and all were as excited as we were. When we arrived they were ready, with dark and timeless outfits as well. We had sunlight and plenty of it for our reflector since we were thinking of working in the early afternoon.

We set the gear up and started, with Alejandro holding the reflector. The young woman took turns, and we worked for perhaps 30 minutes before deciding to wet everyone's hair. All took to the idea beautifully and the portrait below is one such example.

www.halimina.org

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Refugee + Pond + Camp, Uttar Pradesh, India, November of 2013


She stands at the edge of a pond adjacent to her camp, which is next to our host's village. We arrived the night before this image was made, in the dark to a strange land. The courtesy and warmth however of our hosts made any disorientation fade away. 

I never knew what to expect the next morning, even though we drove right past the dimly lit tents on our way to the house. Sleeping that night less than two hundred meters from the camps unsettled me, although our sleeping arrangement was anything but fancy. Still I was unable to sleep without the anonymous faces circling around in my mind. 

The drive however took a lot out of me, being driven in the dark on country roads and around trucks of hay with cars speeding in the other direction. So sleep finally came and we woke up early in the morning to begin our photography. With the sun barely visible we began making these images, the light was so subtle. The scene looks quite serene, but the environment is anything but peaceful. 

What is she doing right now? Does she know that we are thinking about her? What will her dreams tell her when she falls asleep tonight? 

www.halimina.org

Note: Image was made with a Sony RX100M2, edited for size and contrast only.

Ballerina + Beach, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013



We met as she was walking her dance classes with her best friend and both of their grandmothers. In the city ballerinas are seemingly everywhere. We saw them standing for a minute and decided to walk over and introduce ourselves. The grandmothers accepted us with open arms after seeing the images, while the girls themselves spoke with the joy on their faces. They were so curious about what was being presented to them.

We exchanged contact information and went our separate ways. A few days later we arranged the first session and drove around prior to collecting them looking for the perfect spot. We looked for a north-south street with one white wall facing west and an opposing light wall to reflect the sunlight of a late morning. Once we found it we picked up the girls and their grandmothers and headed back to the spot. 

The images from that first session helped our friendship grow and resulted in a fuller experience the second time around. The image presented here is from our second year together. We have since then moved the photography to the beach and have found it to be a liberating space for the girls. It also helps that they are treated to their time in the water after the photography is finished, all while their grandmothers wait so patiently for them, the entire time standing and chatting among themselves. 

With her hair in the wind it's hard to believe that this small wonder is the same girl as the ballerina in the last post from the beach. When we finished for the morning and the girls let their hair down in anticipation for an hour of fun in the water, I was immediately drawn to them and quickly arranged the camera for one roll each. Five minutes later they ran into the water and began their hour or so of intoxication with the sea!

www.halimina.org

Note: These images were made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm lens, onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ballerina + Beach, Santa Maria Del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013


We met as she was walking her dance classes with her best friend and both of their grandmothers. In the city ballerinas are seemingly everywhere. We saw them standing for a minute and decided to walk over and introduce ourselves. The grandmothers accepted us with open arms after seeing the images, while the girls themselves spoke with the joy on their faces. They were so curious about what was being presented to them.
We exchanged contact information and went our separate ways. A few days later we arranged the first session and drove around prior to collecting them looking for the perfect spot. We looked for a north-south street with one white wall facing west and an opposing light wall to reflect the sunlight of a late morning. Once we found it we picked up the girls and their grandmothers and headed back to the spot.
The images from that first session helped our friendship grow and resulted in a fuller experience the second time around. The image presented here is from our second year together. We have since then moved the photography to the beach and have found it to be a liberating space for the girls. It also helps that they are treated to their time in the water after the photography is finished, all while their grandmothers wait so patiently for them, the entire time standing and chatting among themselves.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ballerina + Brother, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013


…and a familiar face along with that of her oldest brother, a recent medical school graduate. For the first time her brothers asked me to make their portraits, each on their own and with their younger sister. The love between these three siblings is clearly palpable in person and hopefully through this portrait.

This image was made on the beach, on an overcast day. We used 400 ISO film and exposed perhaps four or so rolls of medium format film. It will be my sincerest pleasure to hand these images to them in three months, and to receive their reactions. 

www.halimina.org

Note: This portrait was made by a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination, on location at Santa Maria del Mar just outside of La Habana, Cuba.

Girl + Ballet, La Habana, Cuba, Summer of 2013


Last year resulted in some new faces being photographed in Cuba, and this young girl is one such example. Returning home one day from a morning of photography I was greeted by three young girls, one of which was my friend's daughter.

To my great surprise I was told that her friends were also students of ballet. The girls' mothers happened to also be present and we talked at length regarding a collaboration. They looked at the work and became as excited as I was. We decided on the following day if the weather cooperated. 

The next afternoon we were also responsible for photographing another young girl, and waited by the Pan American Stadium while keeping an eye on the clouds passing by. A thin sliver of open sky seemed to be consistent but we decided to go home rather than take a chance at the stadium. We called in advance and the girls arrived dressed beautifully. 

For the portrait below she allowed her hair to dance with the wind, and understood even during her first session that sometimes hair in the face does nothing but augment her expression. Her features are clearly evident in spite of the obstruction, and her smile shines freely.

This upcoming summer I hope to visit the beach with her and her friends, making dance images and portraits alike. 

www.halimina.org

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Model + Beach, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013


This was our second time together on the beach last summer, and our third year in this collaboration. She invited her sister and we photographed her individually and the two sisters together as well. This has become one of my favorite places to photograph, and is less than thirty minutes away from the center of town. In the early morning there are very few people, and with the right angle they can be hidden from camera view. We were fortunate enough to have had sunlight in the midst of these clouds, especially since we picked them up even before the sun came up. 

www.halimina.org

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm lens, mounted onto a tripod a few inches up from the sand. The film used was a Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dancer + Beach, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013



On August 1st of last summer we met with this young woman and her parents and traveled to the beaches of Santa Maria del Mar, just outside of La Habana. An incredible student of dance at a prominent school, she performed for us under the heat of the sun with enthusiasm.

This was her second year with us, allowing her to become more comfortable in her performances. She is selfless and will at times bring another dancer so as to allow us to photograph two rather than one during our sessions. While we would have been more than happy to photograph her on her own, we were also just as happy to photograph two young women and allow each one to rest a bit while the other danced.

Here she is after asking to be photographed while she jumped. I hope she enjoys this image as much as I do when she sees it this summer.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Model + School, Havana, Cuba, Summer of 2013


Once again, and now and then, the men enter the picture… and in this case the camera minded very little. He exuded power and confidence, while also being so gentle and considerate. He allowed all before him to be photographed at the school, then stepped up as the last model to be photographed.

I look forward to photographing him and a female model on the beach, looking forward to this dynamic combination sometime in July! 

www.halimina.org

Note: This portrait was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friend of a Friend + Sand, Santa Maria Del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013


On this afternoon with Paola she asked two of her friends to come along at our request. We saw them hanging out in front of their homes and wondered if they would be interested. Well they were and loved the thought of heading out to the beach for the afternoon.

This young woman however enjoyed the beach a little less due to the restrictions placed on her by her family due to her most recent religious progression. While she loved being with her friends, and the sun on her face, she was itching to go into the water. Nonetheless she was so pleasant to document and had this way about her with the lens, soft and deeply moving.

Hopefully she loves the images scanned today and will allow me to photograph her once again, this time in the water.

This image was made on the beach at Santa Maria del Mar just outside of La Habana, Cuba… with natural light and a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Refugee + Camp, Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, December of 2013


Face after face walked over to the space in front of my camera. The honor of being given this chance to photograph each and every one of them cannot be described fully here. Sure my camera has been places and photographed thousands of people, yet it has never dismissed the privilege attached to such a task on behalf of every single individual.

From Delhi the camps are perhaps a little over three hours away. The first two hours are quite easy relatively speaking, but the last hour or so made our drivers quite uneasy… even more so in the dark since this rural area is filled with tractors carrying enormous piles of hay.

On two of our trips we arrived at night never knowing to which home we were going. We would pick up men on the way and be taken usually to a mosque for evening prayers. Then we would be fed the best of meals, then taken to our rooms to rest for the night prior to the photography in the morning. Never once did I ever see a woman in any of these homes, yet the meals and our rooms were all prepared by the women of these households.

When morning arrived all were prepared to arrive at the camps before sunrise so as to begin the photography as the sun appeared. Less than five minutes after our arrival almost all of the children would be gathered, and ready to be photographed. The task at hand would be to maintain order and ask for the girls to be photographed first.

This young woman for example was the first to be photographed at this camp, and the men for the most part did quite well. This lasted for perhaps ten minutes and then groups of men started to gather and check the proceedings out for themselves. This naturally made it quite difficult for the ones following her and we did our best to minimize the distractions. When I would see a girl's eyes diverted to the people behind me, I would stop and look around to see five or six men standing with their arms crossed. Sometimes smiling at them and nodding for them to move along would do the trick. When that failed a more stern approach was necessary, showing them that perhaps they themselves might feel uncomfortable being stared at in this manner.

What I noticed the most after doing either is that the girls would show their appreciation in the most subtle of manners and understand that my presence was purely on their behalf. They knew that the camera was there for them and that this was one way for them to get their stories out, like messages in bottles.

When the rest of the girls saw this young woman cover her face slightly and my reaction to this action, almost all of them wanted to do the same and played with various versions of this presentation. It was wonderful to see them being so creative and so free with their expressions, an incredible morning all in all. I just hope that progress comes to their camps very soon and that these young girls find a bit of solace in their otherwise most difficult lives.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M2, mounted side by side with a Hasselblad 555 ELD.

www.halimina.org

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paola + Hands, La Habana, Cuba, Summer of 2013



Her name is Paola and she lives in an apartment within the center of Havana, Cuba. She loves to model and is enrolled in a fabulous training program run by an incredible woman. We met one day as we sat down at the end of a show, as she walked over to look at my portfolio. She was so calm about it and looked beyond her 12 years.

I asked if she was interested, and she nodded with an incredibly fierce expression. We introduced ourselves to her mother and found a deeply dedicated woman. She defined the word 'support' and always met our offers with a positive answer. 

She always made sure that her daughter was ready, both in terms of timeliness and in terms of wardrobe. When one thinks of the most humble environment in which they live, these acts of selflessness are even more incredible.

This past summer was the summer of hearts, at least hands making the sign of a heart. Paola took part in this beautiful movement, and here she is in all of her glory.

www.halimina.org

Note: These images were made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination, onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Refugee + Camp, Muzaffarnagar Riots, Uttar Pradesh, India, December, 2013



Sometimes the portraits exclude the environment in which these young girls live, presenting the individuals rather than the community. In this instance both are included for your review. This young girl has seen hell on earth, has been uprooted from her village through intense violence and has been forced to live in this makeshift collection of tents.

We can only imagine what she has seen and experienced as a young girl during the most recent violence in the Muzaffarnagar region of Uttar Pradesh, India. The government is nowhere to be found here, only private citizens doing what they can do. I was advised that some of these young girls had been violated even more so, and this brought a sense of shame to me as a man while pushing me even more so to represent them with the highest of respect through these portraits.

www.halimina.org

Monday, April 7, 2014

Refugee + Muzaffarnagar Riots, Uttar Pradesh, India, December, 2013


Another young girl from this camp presents herself to us in this portrait. Months after this was made my mind is still seeking answers, trying to understand more so her expression. Amazing she is in that she does this in front of three dozen of her friends and in front of the male members of her community watching just meters away. I am always in awe although tens of thousands of these portraits have been made over the years.

When we arrived in these camps my friend Asrar would just tell me, 'put the camera down someplace and just tell me which faces you would like to photograph.' This was difficult for me to do at first until I realized that these girls were drawn to the camera, and that my presence was a welcome one. So we did just that, put the camera down in a good spot and watched as all of them walked from their tents over to us.

Chaos would ensue at first, followed by an incredible patience on their behalf. They would sit near to us and wait for their turns without making me feel hurried, especially when the sun will only give us an hour at the most of perfect light. In this portrait she turns to her to the left, allowing that sweetest of triangles to light the shadows under her left eye.

My friend Asrar and his team have gone out to visit the camps most recently and have begun the reconstruction efforts. Soon many of these camps will be more permanent, with housing and bathrooms in addition to water wells in each area. I hope that this improves her life and allows her to begin the healing process.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Young Woman + Model, Pan American Stadium, La Habana, Cuba, Summer of 2013


She was one of the young women joining us at the Pan American Stadium from the last Cuban Post. We met her and her four friends at her professor's home, and arranged for us to go first followed by them in Alejandro's car.

The day was cloudy as mentioned previously, and Eduardo used his digital camera while I provided support through a reflector. In doing so I experienced first hand working in a supportive role, and enjoyed watching Eduardo working while trying my best to accommodate the light to his needs.

Just as we had given up the sun appeared suddenly through a slight opening in the sky. We dropped everything and picked up our film cameras, Eduardo's Rolleiflex and my Hasselblad. The young women were so professional and granted us their portraits in a very organized manner since we had less than ten minutes of sun remaining.

Five women took their turns, with this young woman being the second to go. I noticed that when she stepped in front of us Eduardo's level of interest increased. Looking more closely and from a distance now the reason is very clear. Some of the most expressive work from this afternoon she produced, and this carried through to our second session. At times she emotes deep sadness, at times a most sensual element.

All in all we took whatever light was given to us and made the best of it. The portraits however made during these ten minutes of sunlight were deeply rewarding, with this being but one example.

www.halimina.org

Note: This image was made using natural light only with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/120 lens combination onto Kodak T-Max 400 ISO film.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Model + Pan American Stadium, La Habana, Cuba, Summer of 2013


Since Alejandro's 1954 Chevy was unable to accommodate eight of us comfortably, meaning that we wanted the young woman to be free of our less than odorless presence for the ride to the Pan American Stadium, Alejandro dropped us off first and then went back for the models. La Maestra prepared them beautifully and of course came along to guide them further during the photography.

Unfortunately the clouds joined us and we ended up mostly using the digital platform initially. Then just as we thought the sun had set for the evening, a sliver of sky opened up and we dispatched with the digital cameras and picked up our film. Eduardo picked up his trusty Rolleiflex and I my Hasselblad and we went to work.

We had four young women in our presence and asked each to step in front of the white wall for a minute or so before the sun disappeared. Each gave us a dozen exposures and then allowed the others to do the same.

This young woman was less than seventeen years old and stood well above all of us. She had a way about her, and knew just how to bend her neck to support her head effortlessly. She dreamt of being a model and was doing quite well with La Maestra. I hope that she's continued and look forward to another session at the stadium!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Man + Necklace, Just Outside of Havana, Cuba, Summer of 2013


One last portrait for tonight, this one is from last summer in Cuba. We walked through Alejandro's neighborhood and this man happened to be an old friend of his father. He agreed to his portrait quickly and this was made before his wife came over to take the necklace off in her attempt to clean him up a bit. I thought he was magnificent as he was of course and prefer this portrait. 

www.halimina.org

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/120mm lens combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.