Saturday, October 14, 2017

Xtina + Woods, Cleveland, Ohio, 2017

In a few hours we will have our second session in as many weeks, and nothing can please me more. Christina has collaborated with me ever since our days in her classroom, as funds were being raised for schools in India. She has always been exceptional, truly a creative spirit.

She has since become a serious photographer, staying faithful to 35mm film, and documents daily life in her most sublime way. It is an honor to photograph Christina, for she understands the vision of a photographer, being one herself.

This image was made when we walked out of the woods, as the sun was on its way to falling behind the line of trees. She turned to the camera and allowed the shutter to be released. Amazing.

Today we drive out to the lake, and hope to find a spot suitable for our session!

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3, mounted adjacent to a Hasselblad V system.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Our Home + Earthquake, Managua, Nicaragua, December 23, 1972

The green light to go forward came in today, and so plans are being made for the first trip to my birthplace since the week this photograph was made almost 45 years ago. The fact that we have this photograph is a miracle, for my Father was walking around buying photographs of the earthquake before we flew to Lebanon to reconstruct our lives. I hope to be able to find the exact spot of this photograph, and to make a portrait of the site of our now long-gone home.

According to Wikipedia:

The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake occurred at 12:29:44 a.m. local time (06:29:44 UTC) on December 23 near Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. It had a moment magnitude of 6.3 and a maximum MSK intensity of IX (Destructive). The epicenter was 28 kilometers northeast of the city centre and a depth of about 10 kilometers. The earthquake caused widespread casualties among Managua's residents: 4,000–11,000 were killed, 20,000 were injured and over 300,000 were left homeless.

(Photographer unknown, 12/1972)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Syrian Refugee + Garden, Zahle, Lebanon, 2017

The generation before her gave birth to my photography over twenty years ago, as a taxi driver dropped me off near to this camp. The generosity of the Syrians living in these tents was immediately felt as the women invited me to have some tea. Ever since that first moment the children of this community have been documented, their stories recorded.

The boys who used to give me trouble have now become the leaders of the camps. Instead of teasing me, they referred to me as Uncle Halim and attended to me as they would attend to their elders. The transformation was unlike any in my photographic experience, perhaps showing me the future of my work in the various communities as time passes.

This year was different than previous years, since the conflict in Syria has changed the region entirely. The number of Syrians seeking safety in Lebanon has increased dramatically, and amongst them may exist those intent on doing harm to an outsider.

Thus my Uncle asked to come along for my first visit this summer. We drove to the camp and realized that the families had relocated due to construction. They were about one mile away, and a little further from the main road. We arrived and were immediately greeted by those young boys who had become the leaders. Immediately hugs and kisses were exchanged, and smiles were on everyone's faces. My Uncle was relieved and comfortable enough to allow me to visit on my own for the rest of my time.

This young girl was of course unborn at the time of my early work, and has energized my work once again in the region. To know her language is such a relief, unlike my work in other countries. Watching her react as we speak is priceless, hearing her story firsthand without translation is irreplaceable. 

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Anyel + Tree, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2017

Even thought it was cloudy we made the best of it thanks to Anyel's calm spirit. In all of my years documenting her incredible talent in front of the lens, she has always remained positive and kind. She rarely speaks during a session, and when music is playing we will catch her dancing on the video camera. 

She has a presence in front of the lens which is to be respected, and is a privilege to photograph. Nothing needs to be said, for she understands expressions and movements. The sunlight rarely bothers her regardless of time of day.

This past year we were blessed to photograph her on three occasions, in her own clothes and in the stylings of Yudel R. Contreras Garcia, the sensational stylist and designer. Her ability to be a chameleon makes her perfect for such a collaboration, when we are provided certain pieces to use for our session. Anyel is able to put the wardrobe on and embrace the feeling such designs emit.

Next year we do hope to drive out to the countryside once again and make photographs along the way, as she truly shines in the open spaces.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Jaedon + Abandoned Home, Los Angeles County, California, 2017

Five days ago was my third session with the incomparable Jaedon. Every time I reach out, she accepts without reservation. Nothing needs to be stated regarding the wardrobe, and she is willing to drive out much earlier so that we could find the best spots. On top of it all, she always brings the tastiest snacks along, and of course healthy!

The abandoned home in this image was found first, to the side of the road on our way to El Mirage. She spotted a group of homes, and we turned off of the main road to explore. This one was just perfect, and we set up our cameras immediately.

Her jacket was more than beautiful, for it had meaning beyond its esthetic. She shared the story behind it, making the images that much more memorable for us. Our dear friend Ian came along for the ride, and through his support we were able to make images and have fun along the way.

From here we drove to a Joshua Tree, found a TV tossed to the side of the road, and then made it to the dry lake bed at El Mirage... our favorite place by far. We stopped at the entrance to the lake so that Ian can get behind the wheel... to see his excitement as he raced along the cracked surface. On our way back, Jaedon took the wheel and guided us slowly as the sun set for the evening.

These are the moments for which I am deeply thankful, and these are the kind of people for whom my photography is dedicated. It is my intention to return next year, and to document Jaedon's priceless spirit for the fourth time.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3, mounted alongside a Hasselblad V system for an immediate, digital image.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Mag + Minolta, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, 2017

She just happened to bring her Minolta, and loaded with film as well. So during our session Magdalena pulled the camera out of the car and exposed a few frames of the landscape, and of the photographer in action. It just felt natural to do the same in return!

Our collaboration began through happenstance over six years ago during my first visit to Los Angeles. Since then we have worked together four times, from Mormon's Rocks to Lucerne Valley to El Mirage. She has always styled herself, and brought with her the most creative attire.

Photographing Magdalena is effortless for she presents herself directly and with honesty. She truly values our collaboration for she immerses herself fully, from the preparation regarding the wardrobe to the skin art. It is a privilege to know her, and an honor to be given the chance to document her incomparable spirit.

As soon as the film is developed Mag, do share!

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Cami + Joshua Tree, Los Angeles County, California, 2017

This past week was spent out West with some of the most precious women in my life. All have taken part in my photography in the past and continue to honor me with their participation. They ask for nothing in return, and find being sisters to the girls in my work truly heartening. 

Immediately after landing at LAX my first objective was to drive over to Cami's home. She was gracious enough to meet me earlier than planned so that we could explore some new spots. On our way to the dry lake bed, we ran across this scene and stopped immediately.

Southern California is incredibly beautiful, and in this location alone we found a variety of scenes. This tree was the last one photographed before driving away. Rather than standing in front of the tree, Cami was brave enough to try something new and made the difficult climb.

This allowed us to make images from a further distance, and expanded the perspective of our collaboration. Her open mind, and willingness to try something new continues to inspire me. Should she be willing to collaborate next year, and every year after, she can count on me to be at her service as a photographer.

On our way back home, Cami was gracious enough to invite me for a meal at the amazing Krimsey's Cajun Kitchen, "the world's first cajun vegan restaurant." We were treated like royalty by our dear friend Gino, and ended our collaboration for the evening with a delicious meal. This is the kind of person she is, and for whom I am truly grateful.

When in Los Angeles, you will love the food of this spot and can get an idea of it through their website.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sewing Teacher + Classroom, Rajasthan, India, 2017

She stands in front of her home, over eleven years after her first portrait was made just a few meters away. For those of us from this circle involved in this movement, we present her portrait. Her aunt teaches the younger students on behalf of Nirvanavan Foundation, while she holds sewing classes for the older girls in her village. 

She is a force to be reckoned with, a true testament to the power of education. Rather than sitting on the floor like the older women in her village, she sits on the chair with such poise, and speaks as an equal to all those visiting her home.

It has been a privilege to have seen her transformation over the years. She began as a young girl, barely able to look my way when being photographed. Last year she asked for our support when she moves forward to begin a sewing class in her new husband's village. She has transformed from a shy student to a powerful proponent of social change.

This is the change people speak about, and I salute all of those involved for making this change a reality in her village!

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Model in the Countryside, Campo Florido, Cuba, 2017

While Havana is an incredible place for photography, everyone and their mother is walking around with cameras these days... literally. So whenever we had a chance to drive out to the countryside we did so with joy... and our families loved it even more!

On this day we drove out with Karla and another model from EGOS, the modeling school run by the incomparable Gysleda Virginia De La Barca Vega. On our way out we realized that it was cloudy, but continued heading into the countryside regardless. We thought at least we'd make digital images for the young women, while having a bit of fun as well.

We arrived well before sunrise to find a few locations, including this one, then returned to the first spot to begin our photography. The cloudy day allowed us to photograph slowly, and move from one spot to the next as we wished. When we finally arrived to this location, the owner of the car was ready to head out for the day. He was kind enough to allow us to photograph a few minutes until he was ready to leave, and we made the best of it.

Because it was cloudy, we were able to photograph for almost four hours. This meant that all were pretty hungry by the time the work ended. To our surprise the young women and their chaperon allowed us to order pan con lechón for all of us, the iconic Cuban sandwich, from the side of the road... and each ate two, along with locally-made soda!

It was a wonderful morning, and I look forward to next year!

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.