Friday, November 27, 2015

Young Student, Mewat, Haryana, Spring of 2015


This is a young girl for whom next month's event at the Cleveland Print Room is dedicated, thanks to the generosity of Shari and her team. Most of you are of course familiar with my work, and so many of you have generously given since this work began. For those unfamiliar with these portraits and their stories, the week before Christmas will be a great opportunity to see incredible faces, read their stories, watch videos of the students as they attend classes for the first time, enjoy the company of like-minded people and purchase prints for your loved ones while supporting directly the education of such a girl thousands of miles away!

This young student is attending school for the first time in her life, thanks to our collaboration with Humana People to People India. The foundation has identified villages in need and approached the communities in order to initiate a conversation. Some of the communities responded favorably, and thus the schools have begun. The new model is to work with the local government schools, transition the girls out of school into a classroom within the school run by the foundation, and then mainstream them back into the government system.

This will allow the foundation to run sustainably since the government of India has made it a priority to bring education to all, while aiding the government in its outreach to the communities most in need such as this girl's village. Now she and her friends attend classes every single day in a safe environment.

For this young student next month's show is dedicated, and I hope that many of you will make the time in your busy schedules to attend and show your support. 

While the show is local, anyone interested in participating from a distance is more than welcome to share their thoughts... and I will do my best to include everyone interested in helping!

www.halimina.org
www.humana-india.org

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M2.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

3 Survivors + HIV/AIDS, Near Kisumu, Kenya, 2006





One day the good people of MACODEF take me to a small house where about thirty women and a few men have gathered in anticipation of our visit. They come from different households and backgrounds but share one variable, living with HIV/AIDS.

While we usually arrive and set up the equipment shortly thereafter, this time we sit down and listen to the stories of each person, one at a time. Here are thirty or so adults, with their children around them, telling a complete stranger the story of how they contracted the virus, of how they remember their spouses as the sources of this transmission and of how their children live with the thought of losing their remaining parent.

Some of the stories are translated, some are left to be heard without translation.

There is a feeling of victory, of jubilation. These women see their tribulations as opportunities rather than obstacles. They have formed a group and through this unity have forged a way forward.

We step outside and make their portraits, first with their children and then on their own. My mind cannot imagine the tribulations each has endured, for their lives without such an unimaginable hardship is beyond my ability to comprehend.

The nearest hospital is beyond their reach and the medicine needed is as distant. Yet they find the strength to take care of themselves and their families, to gather in this group and share their stories in public… in an environment less than friendly for such stories.


Note: These images were made with a Nikon F100/105 mm lens combination.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Refugee from Sectarian Violence, Uttar Pradesh, India, March of 2015


On our return to the refugee camps from two years ago, we were told that most of the camps were now vacant fields. Most of the families had either settled in the area or returned to their homes. While this was of course excellent news, for many their lives had changed very little.

Such was the case with this little girl, and her family. Over two years ago they were forced from their homes by yet another bout of sectarian violence. They had moved to this part of Uttar Pradesh and were provided land in order to begin the recovery process. A few organizations had stepped up and build public latrines and mosques, provided blankets and clothes, and even began the arduous process of documenting their stories. 

Two years later she was still living in the camp. When we arrived she was listening the Koranic lessons with the rest of the children as they gathered under the fabric of a large tent. 

The inhabitants of the camp were familiar with my hosts and allowed me to make portraits of the children. We began with the boys as was customary for our afternoon sessions, and then made portraits of the girls in front of the school. This young girl, in front of the men in her camp, had the courage to get up and stand for her portrait in front of yet another stranger. The determination in her eyes made me pause then, as it does now.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M2.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jadha + El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 6, 2015


Last week was spent in Los Angeles making images of ballerinas and models. The idea was to create an inclusive body of work, to make images of the well known along with the less than known… to display the similarities rather than the differences.

All of the women photographed offered themselves selflessly to the work, fully understood the idea behind the project and saw the girls in my work as their sisters. This was the case with Jadha, and our session most recently.

While it was pretty damn cold for such a session even near Los Angeles, she was more than enthusiastic to meet up two hours before sunrisey. Leading up to this meeting, she shared images of her wardrobe and communicated consistently, always showing true enthusiasm.

We met two hours before sunrise and drove out to our location, talked about the sequence of our session and began a few minutes after we arrived. She ignored the coolness of the desert air, and performed flawlessly for the lens. She changed from one outfit to another quickly, and rarely presented the same pose twice.

We had a great time for two hours, and headed back to Los Angeles with the most beautifully clear skies above. I admire this young woman, and look forward to seeing the processed film this week!

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Daughter of Migrants, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Summer of 2009


For this evening a portrait of yet another Syrian living in Lebanon is shared. She sat for her photograph in the same spot as the boy from yesterday's post, in front of the sheikh's home and with a plant to her side. She was both shy and confident, an incredible combination.

They live just outside of Zahle, in the valley below. The women and girls pick vegetables all day long, while the men and boys work in the factories, restaurants and service stations nearby. These families do what they can, since there is so little economically for them back home in Syria. 

Their homes lack running water and toilets, and have the most basic of electricity taken from the main lines. The children need to walk to a field to go tot he bathroom, and bath in the open. There sleep without insulation, as temperatures dip to freezing in the winter months. There is little protection from the rain, and various insects and animals have free access to them as they sleep.

I admire these children deeply, for they endure a life most cannot imagine… yet have never judged me nor my work. They accept both with open arms, and have faith in the meaning behind the images.

Note: This image was made with a Canon G10.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Syrian Migrant + Chair, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Summer of 2009


This portrait is dedicated to the countless refugees on the move presently around the world. This young boy happened to be a migrant worker photographed during my time in Lebanon. His family crossed into Lebanon in search of a better economy, working in the fields picking vegetables or in the factories of the region.

Their tent towns dotted the landscape, filled with life. Most would pass by them without as much as a glance, driving at such speeds which would seem unimaginable should their own children we walking in the streets. The children themselves were incredibly resilient, taking care of themselves and their younger siblings. They played with handmade toys, a stick with a wheel at the end… or perhaps with a rag doll short on recognizable features.

This was the exact spot in which my photography began, and I yearn for the day when I can return to greet these families, as well as my own of course. My hope is that next year this will happen, that the violence in the Middle East at the moment is far, far away from this young boy and his family.

Note: This image was made with a Canon G10.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Young Girl, La Habana, Cuba, Summer of 2014


One day we were visiting one of our families in La Habana when this young girl came walking down the stairs, excusing herself as she walked down. While people on the island are quite generous and kind, for a child her age to do so in a most natural way caught my attention. She remained in my mind as we walked upstairs to speak with our family, and I described her to my friends.

Immediately they smiled and knew about whom I was talking, and told me that they would ask her parents for permission to be photographed. Her parents agreed and she joined us upstairs for a short session on the rooftop. Her mannerisms were beyond incredible, she had her way about her... and was truly an individual at such a tender age.

My friend's mother took it upon herself to help her get ready for the photography, took care of her hair and so on. When it was time for her to get in front of the camera, she was such the natural... absolutely perfect! The sun mattered little to her, and she was enamored with the camera. This image was from our first year together, and hopefully this coming summer we will reunite for another series of sessions!


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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jordan + Fabric, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 1, 2015


As the film is being processed, a few digital images from last week's time in California have been shared, including some made with the most talented Jordan Alexa Arentz. She responded to my casting call initially with enthusiasm and such never faded away as we discussed the details for our session.

She and her wonderful mother arrived well in advance of our agreed upon time, while I was finalizing our exact location on the dry lake bed. We met a few minutes later and got along beautifully right from the beginning. Even though it was cool and windy, both of them told me that they were more than fine, and ready to collaborate.

After a couple of stops to expose some images with different backdrops, we ended at this spot. The wind blew dust everywhere, even created a few dust storms while we worked. Jordan however worked through this difficultly and used it to her advantage as in this image with the fabric.

She placed it onto her face, and went about her positions nonetheless. Her hands moved as if she was able to see, effortlessly and with purpose. We went on to expose film for another hour or so, packed up our dusty belongings and drove back into the city. It was a magical afternoon and soon the analog images will be shared!


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M2, mounted alongside the Hasselblad analog system and triggered simultaneously.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Young Girl + Motion, San Miguel del Padron, Cuba, Summer of 2014


Almost all of my images of this young girl are from this perspective, and almost none of them display movement. Even though her details are blurred, almost all familiar with her will recognize her features immediately. She is flawless in every manner, and gave me four glorious years of photography during my time on the island.

In this image, she decided to turn away from me, count to three and then turn to the camera. We did this several times and did our best to catch her glancing at the camera. She had the vision to make this portrait possible, and I am eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to document her during the transition from pre-teen to teen.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Jadha + El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 6, 2015


This past week was spent in Los Angeles making images of ballerinas and models. The idea was to create an inclusive body of work, to make images of the well known along with the less than known… to display the similarities rather than the differences.

All of the women photographed offered themselves selflessly to the work, fully understood the idea behind the project and saw the girls in my work as their sisters. This was the case with Jadha, and our session this past Friday.


While it was pretty damn cold for such a session even near Los Angeles, she was more than enthusiastic to meet up two hours before sunrisey. Leading up to this meeting, she shared images of her wardrobe and communicated consistently, always showing true enthusiasm.

We met this past Friday two hours before sunrise and drove out to our location, talked about the sequence of our session and began a few minutes after we arrived. She ignored the coolness of the desert air, and performed flawlessly for the lens. She changed from one outfit to another quickly, and rarely presented the same pose twice.

We had a great time for two hours, and headed back to Los Angeles with the most beautifully clear skies above. I admire this young woman, and look forward to seeing the processed film this week!

Twitter

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3 mounted next to a Hasselblad V System, triggered simultaneously to make a digital file alongside the analog.

Jaedon & Ray, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 6, 2015


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This spontaneous moment happened at the end of our session at El Mirage, and was pure happenstance as she reminded me of our conversation on our way there and we selected a Ray Charles song even more spontaneously!

To see more of Jaedon's work, please follow this link.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Jaedon + Joshua Tree, Near Los Angeles, California, November 6, 2015


Yesterday I had the privilege of photographing this most exquisite spirit, and witnessed talent of the highest degree along with a heart as open as the spaces in which we photographed. We entered our collaboration as strangers and exited as collaborators for life.

My initial impression of Jaedon was that of a very enthusiastic communicator, responding to my casting call. As she responded to my requests with precision and always on time, my admiration of her grew even more. Here was a woman certainly busy with her life, yet taking the time out of her busy days to check her eyes' sensitivity to sunlight, to send pictures of her wardrobe for me to review.


She accepted a morning session even though that meant heading out to the dry lake bed two hours before sunrise. So when the time came for our session and the afternoon slot became available, she accepted with humility and we made our way to El Mirage Dry Lake Bed the next day.

When I arrived at her home, she was standing outside perfectly ready, and with care kits especially prepared for us. She had once again taken the time to put together bags of nutritious snacks for our afternoon out of the city, a very touching gesture indeed.

We had a great conversation on our way and, since we were early, we decided to stop at a few places to make images with more variety. Her willingness to check her eyes' sensitivity to sunlight paid off immediately, as she was able to work perfectly while the sun was quite strong.

In this image she stands at our third location prior to the dry lake bed, a location we chose spontaneously as we were about to leave the second spot. She was and is magnificent, and I will be proud to introduce her to our dancers in Cuba very soon!

Twitter

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mariel + Sky, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 4 of 2015


After two hours in the cold it seemed plausible that Mariel would opt to get in a warm car and head home. Instead she offered to create more and such was embraced fully of course.

The results were two rolls exposed as the wind struck her skin with fury. She managed to hold her own, and produce the most incredible expressions… speaking volumes of her ability to produce honest, genuine emotions.


My hope is that these expressions were recorded onto film faithfully!

Twitter

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mariel + El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 4 of 2015



A few years ago this exquisite woman stepped into my life thanks to her portrait in a fellow photographer's portfolio. One message to her regarding a possible collaboration yielded the kindest response, and confirmed my need to visit the west coast.


Our first session together was at this exact spot, and yielded the greatest number of rolls exposed during one session in my experience to this day. The images we made then impressed me deeply, and made me want to return to document her peerless spirit once again.


Cue forward to this afternoon, and our second session at El Mirage Dry Lake Bed. Nothing needs to be explained to Mariel, for she understands my vision perfectly. Her wardrobe is unmatched, as well as her willingness to go anywhere for the image.

The temperature was well below normal for this time of the year, hovering around 50 degrees without the factor of the intense wind considered. She nonetheless performed flawlessly, changing from one outfit to another effortlessly. 

While a full team may usually be present during her modeling sessions, she offers herself without hesitation to my work knowing that such would be missing. She is as selfless as I have ever met, and considers herself fortunate to be photographed alongside the girls from Cuba, India, Lebanon and the rest.

I for one am just as fortunate, and look forward to many more sessions.

Thanks to my dear friend Malachi, I found Mariel and this special place!

Twitter

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ballerina + El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 2, 2015


While it was raining this afternoon in Los Angeles, we visited one of the most incredible spaces on the planet. Even though countless people have come before us, it remains as pure and mystical as it must have appeared to its first visitors eons ago.

This incredible spirit helped me plan the session with her utmost professionalism, her consistent questions and her attention to details. We talked about everything from the costumes to the location and transportation. She agreed to every detail, and was only interested in making beautiful images, worrying very little about the distance from the city.


The wind was dramatic, at times forcing us to stop. The sand struck her skin with such force so as to prevent us from going forward on several occasions. She was incredible however, and came back every single time with such exuberance and determination.

Just as we were about to finish she graced me with three short performances which we recorded on video. It was a wonderful ending to a memorable day!

Twitter

Note: Image made with a Sony RX100M3.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Jamila + El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 3, 2015


Last night an opening for today appeared in the schedule, just as Jamilacontacted me. She has been working in Los Angeles since a few weeks ago, and all of a sudden our longing to collaborate become a reality. Without much fuss we made plans to meet today and head out to my favorite place in the States for photography. 
She brought what she had, which was more than I would have anticipated. The weather was unseasonably cool, yet did little to affect her desire to present her art. We picked three places on the lake bed, and photographed at each for perhaps 30 or so minutes.
This was our second spot, a new perspective for me. While clouds and lightning gathered over Los Angeles, we had nothing but blue skies and a lunar landscape in which to collaborate. The only sound was that of the wind, and the clicking of the shutter. 
Happenstance at its best!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jordan + Fabric, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, November 1, 2015



Sometimes my work overseas spoils me, makes me see photography through the prisms of true acceptance and complete understanding. Then there are those times when such spirits here in the States also do the same for me.

This exquisite woman is one such example, as she responded to my casting call last week with incredible exuberance. Rather than letting days go between messages, she would reply very quickly and with precision. When asked to show me her wardrobe, she did so immediately and with visual examples sent.

Her beauty is only matched by her humility, a rare combination in my experience but one which has been demonstrated to me through the beautiful people in my portfolio. She is a sister to the girls in my work, and now even more so as her spirit passed the same glass elements on its way to the film plane over and over again during our session yesterday.


For this image she allowed us to work with a fabric placed over her face. The wind was blowing incredibly, and held the fabric in place perfectly. She was able to walk around, move her hands and still maintain her hidden facial features. All this she did with the most perfect attitude, a true pleasure to work with and look forward to for years to come.

Jordan's Website

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M2.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Child of Migrants, Humana People to People India, Uttar Pradesh, India March 17, 2015


This young girl lives the life of a migrant, yet life few migrants has an opportunity to attend classes thanks to Humana People to People India. The privilege of photographing her was made possible by this incredible foundation, and the team responsible for the school in her village.

She and the other children in the slum attend classes in a local temple. What they walk through on a daily basis on their way to school would make most hold their breath. Mounds and mounds of garbage separate their hamlet from the temple, and provide an almost nauseating odor all day and night.

When we arrived to photograph the children on this morning, we were welcomed immediately. All of course knew the foundation's team, and accepted me thanks of course to this existing relationship. The beautiful children were immediately ready, and had the most incredible look of surprise as they learned of our intent to document them.

We set up in the narrowest alley, and asked the children to stand for their portraits one by one. Like in countless villages, what amazes me most is how strong, how honest and sincere their expressions are... how natural. 

Here is her expression... what was on her mind? Each viewer will have their own interpretation of course... but my hope is that none will deny the purity of her expression.

www.halimina.com


Note: this portrait was made by a Sony RX100M2.