Saturday, January 24, 2015

Arab Girl + Migrant, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Summer of 2005


She is a young girl living behind a service station in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. This is her first and only portrait, since her family has moved on without a trace. Like many of the families living as migrants in this area, they have moved from Syria in search of work and continue to move for the same reason.

I remember her well, and the circumstance behind this portrait. The refection in her eyes confirms the place of our collaboration, and the people standing around watching this image being made. On this day I visit a tent to inquire about a group of children. The adult tells me that the children are working in the fields but that there are more children nearby.

We talk for a little bit and get noticed by these very children. They run across an uneven, dry field and make their way to us. They have heard of me and know that I am the photographer. The girl above is one of them. All of the children appear as her, with disheveled hair and skin abused by the sun. When my hands run across their hair, the feeling is of coarse wool.

We talk for a little bit and the adults consent to the photography. The front of a storage facility is perfect, with indirect light coming from behind me to the right. The children line up and wait for their photography. I am alone but the children are very cooperative. She stands in front of me and behind her is a window without glass. In the distance and to her right is a window of the same size.

It is the late afternoon and the sun is behind her. A handful of negatives are exposed, and she moves to the side to allow others to be photographed. This is the last time my eyes have witnessed her face, her incredibly poignant features. Next year I will return to the same place and ask about her, hoping to make her portrait once again.

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Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 501CM/120 mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.