Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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

Tonight I am printing this young woman's images from our session on the beach last summer. The timing happens to be the first hour of the day while the waves were quite calm and the sun wonderfully soft. We met four years ago while she was taking modeling lessons in the center of Havana, as I was searching for another young woman.

Since that first meeting we have collaborated every year and she has continuously shown a sincere desire to be included in my work. Even before my arrival to the island she calls my friend's house, letting him know that she is ready to collaborate. I look forward to seeing how she has changed since this image and to documenting those changes onto film.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mariel + Dry Lake Bed, Los Angeles, California, Fall of 2012

Soon the girls on the island will see that there are those on this side of the water who care about them deeply and are willing to give of their time to join them in this movement. This young woman offered her time for the sake of those in my portfolio even thought this is her full-time profession. This is her form of giving and with such images a larger circle of people will visit this portfolio, thus taking the message even further.

These images were made at El Mirage Dry Lake Bed two years ago, just the two of us and this wonderful space. The camera system used was a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination, and exposures were made to Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film. We spent two glorious hours working, and at least twice that in our time to and from the lake bed. She was as marvelous in front of the lens as she was next to me in the car, a joy to be with indeed.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Two Students + Boulder, Kisumu, Kenya, 2006

Tempted to visit the Kenyan images again tonight and pulled this one out of two students. We arrived a bit late to this school and were forced to make images under the harsh sunlight. The children performed with incredible patience, even took on their own positions rather than following everyone else. It was wonderful to see the play between best friends, how one reacted to the other's serious expression, then how both exploded in laughter after the image was made.

For three weeks we visited elementary schools, institutions for the mentally and physically challenged, a group for widows living with HIV/AIDS… and such experiences changed me for the better. This was where my work took on a more social tone, and one that makes me happy to revisit eight years later.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Students + Uniforms, Kisumu, Kenya, 2006

Going through the images from my time in Kenya almost eight years ago yielded this image. Do I remember making it? Honestly, no. What I remember is the feeling of being in front of these students, and the schools visited. I remember the excitement in the air and the lines of students waiting for their time in front of the lens. Just as memorable was the attention paid by the adults in each of these schools, giving of their services for the sake of the students. What young adults take for granted here these children walked great distances for under harsh conditions. For many these were the only uniforms they had in their possession, made by hand with much care.

These children have since grown up and my only hope is that they finished their education and have moved on to a brighter future.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Model + Shawl, Modeling School, Artemisa, Cuba

One of the models from the school in Artemisa (Cuba), she seemed to take inspiration from the Asian images in my album. She loved the fabrics surrounding the faces from Lebanon and India, and wanted to express herself in a similar fashion. We were deeply impressed with her desire to express herself in such a way, in her desire to connect with her sisters from Asia.

We photographed four young women that afternoon as an act of spontaneity, driving almost two hours from Havana to the school after seeing clear skies above us. We used a reflector since the timing of our visit was mid-afternoon, but they embraced this unorthodox form of light graciously.

She has since remained in contact with me through email, and looks forward to the images… and to our next session perhaps on the beach this time around! 


Note: This portrait was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm lens combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film using natural light augmented by a 52" reflector. 

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

At the end of our session the sun was supremely soft. She sat on the sand and allowed the water to engulf her while she moved from one expression to another. With a wide angle lens mounted, my camera was more or less one meter away from her. A year ago it would have been unthinkable, for me or my camera to be in saltwater. With this incredible girl all of that disappeared and it felt natural to join her, to feel her expressions rather than release the shutter from a distance.

While six or so images have been posted of her lately, over 200 have been printed for her and they represent only the first three sessions, with three more to go this weekend. I cannot wait to hand over 400 prints to her, and watch her expressions as she turns the pages of the albums she will have in her hands.


Note: This was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/50mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Across 100 ISO film. The location was Santa Maria del Mar, a beach less than thirty minutes away from La Habana, Cuba.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Claudia + Wind, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2013

This was the 370th frame scanned for the upcoming trip to Cuba, out of a little over 1,700. Later this week her scans will be printed, after my work with Anais is finished. These two young girls are peerless, and have their own unique presence in front of the lens. One is a ballerina and photographed from various distances, while the other is a painter and the camera is just unable to pull any further than a meter or so away.

This is her third year with me, well on our path to five years and a book for her 'Quince.' She would rather have such images than the usual pattern. She lives independent of many neighborhood friends, keeps to herself and adores her parents. She is beyond her years yet thrives in the innocence of her youth. She lives in a small house and in a difficult neighborhood, yet carries a smile consistently.

When asked if she'd like to continue working, she finds it difficult to refrain from a smile without equal. She is adored by everyone viewing her images, and the photographer making them.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ballerina + Stairs, Pan American Stadium, Cuba, Summer of 2013

Her hands even behind her back are perfectly symmetrical. She stands here on the steps of the Pan American Stadium, built over two decades ago for the games played in Cuba. Hundreds of athletes had once walked up these steps on their way to competition. Now the place lays dormant with only a few athletes training on a daily basis within its walls.

This is her place, this is her stage. Being here with her is deeply meaningful. Sitting here in my dark apartment I can imagine the scene. We arrive usually late afternoon to a silent stadium. The shoreline is but a hundred or so meters away from us, and the highway filled with vintage cars is the same distance away in the other direction. This is the environment in which these images have been made, and will continue to be made this summer.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ballerina + Hands, Pan American Stadium, Cuba, Summer of 2013

Printing for Cuba has begun tonight, this one of the most familiar figure in my work. Making informal images has opened the door to so much more, builds the excitement even more so for this summer's visit to the island.

From every angle she is perfect. From a roll of 12 flawless performances two have been posted here. The thought that she can imagine so much spontaneously and without hesitation gives me pause every time.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ballerina + Rooftop, La Habana, Cuba, Summer of 2013

A new face to look forward to this coming summer on the island, and she is also a ballerina! One day upon returning to my friend's apartment my eyes witnessed this beautiful spirit playing games with my friend's daughter and another friend. Their mothers also happened to be there and we talked at length about the photography. Then their background in dancing was mentioned to me and the interest in photographing them grew. Their mothers were very interested and we decided to do so the next chance we got, which happened to be the very next day.

All of us met at my friend's apartment on a late afternoon, and used the roof as our studio. The sun was hot but the girls adapted to the photography well and we made exquisite portraits, this being just one example. We used her hair to shield her eyes from the sun, and I was even more surprised when she was able to make portraits without this shield.

This year I look forward to taking them and their mothers to the beach at Santa Maria del Mar for more photography, and cannot wait to hand them their portraits from last year, including this one.


Monday, May 5, 2014

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

A beach, a wide angle lens and her… dreaming of Cuba tonight!

This is my first time with a wide angle lens mounted onto my Hasselblad system, and will certainly lead to many more. This young woman is only twelve years old in this image and has been photographed by me for the past five years. This summer will make it six. Her level of enthusiasm is unmatched, and she needs nothing in terms of direction while she listens to the shutter of the camera as the conductor of her movements.

I adore and admire this young spirit, always will.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/50mm CFI FLE lens onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.