Sunday, November 19, 2017

Charcoal Maker, Manzanillo, Cuba, 2016


His portrait comes to mind as my visit to Nicaragua nears. My hope is that rural Nicaragua is as welcoming as its counterpart in Cuba, and as beautiful. Thanks to my family in Nicaragua plans are being made to do just that, head to the countryside in search of those working with their hands. 

This beautiful man's portrait was made as we drove to the eastern part of Cuba in search of a family. We found that family, and over the span of five days made portraits of its daughter, an inspiration well worth the 14 hour drive. In the mornings we photographed her, and in the afternoons we drove to the villages on the outskirts of the town and photographed the farmers in the villages.

Our connection in this village was a cousin to the family in the larger town, and her husband was this man. The fire in the frame had lost its strength but was still strong enough to keep us at a distance. This incredible man however worked in the midst of it all, like it was nothing to him. He collected the precious bits of charcoal efficiently while we looked on and made his portrait.

It was an honor to have produced his portrait, and I can only look forward to doing the same in Nicaragua in less than two weeks!

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/100 mm combination.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Rachel in a Piece by Yudel, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2016


Two summers ago this was the spot on so many days. Getting out of the city and heading to the countryside gave the models the space in which to be creative, and to breathe freely. On this morning we were accompanied by the magnificent Rachel Hortensia Lopez Thompson in pieces provided by the most talented Yudel R. Contreras Garcia.

It is an incredible honor to be provided fabrics by one of the premiere designers on the island, and to have such a talent on whom such pieces could be placed. This is to me the reward of being engaged for a dozen years in Cuba, to have the trust of the community in these collaborations. There is something so magical about really knowing the people being photographed. All this of course was made possible thanks to the genius of Gysleda Virginia De La Barca Vega and her modeling school at ModaEgos.

We had worked together a few times before, making this session so natural. She was always on time and always in a good mood even though we usually left for our location an hour before sunrise. For this session we drove to a neighborhood familiar to us about half an hour out of the city. We located four spots and began just as the sun came up. 

The formula is by now familiar to all of us, starting with 400 ISO film and then moving on to 100 ISO. This allowed us to take advantage of the early light and let Rachel work with a more subdued sun. By the time we arrived to this house it was perhaps 7:45 a.m. and the sun had cleared the trees across the small path. Rachel was of course ready in her third outfit and we exposed a few rolls, both in black and white and in color.

This beautiful spirit has since moved to another country, yet remains in contact with me to this day. She has my appreciation for the beautiful images she more than helped us create, and I do hope that one day we can continue this collaboration!

Website

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/100 mm combination.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Syrian Refugee + Fabric, Zahle, Lebanon, 2017

The men driving me to the camps have been amazed by the beauty within them, especially this young girl living just fifteen or so minutes from my grandparents' home. The men have lived in this town since birth and have driven past the camps on countless occasions. Yet they had never stopped for a minute to interact with the populations within, had never seen such beauty.

Most are offended by the intense smell, or by the mere presence of the refugees within their country. In so many ways such a presence has put a strain on the country, with the economy in distress and the already fragile security more strained.

However for me these camps are the birth of my photography, for me the children within them are as beautiful, as strong and as vibrant as any encountered in my travels. They are the flowers amidst the chaos, they are the inspiration behind my work.

This young girl's smile erases the difficulty in achieving her portrait. While men look on at times in disapproval, she stands her ground and speaks her mind through her portrait. She refuses to be silenced, refuses to be ignored. If this portrait can communicate such to the viewers, then it has done justice to her spirit.


Website
Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination onto Ilford Delta 100 film.

Monday, November 13, 2017

My Father + Family, Managua, Nicaragua


The excitement is building as plans come together for Nicaragua. Thanks to dear Lilliam, we have this portrait of my father and uncle. The looks on their faces are priceless to me, showing a clear confidence and joy in the lives that they had built for themselves with their own hands. The search for remnants of that past will begin in three weeks!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Forest in Rajasthan, India, 2017


My last visit to India included a spontaneous trip to the deserts of Rajasthan, to the furthest west of that beautiful state. We were within miles of the Pakistani border and felt an eerie silence during our time there. My companion for this trip was my dear brother Mukesh, who sacrificed so much time away from his family for the sake of work.

Instead of pure portraiture, we decided to photograph the forests and deserts. One day we were driving around and spotted this forest on either side of the road. Mukesh decided to stay in the car and get some rest while I walked around the forest and did my thing.

The whole experience was surreal. Away from the hustle of the immense cities of India, here we were without another soul in sight. The silence was interrupted only by the sounds of the most colorful birds. Now and then a blue bull in the distance would look up, before moving on.

I walked for what seemed an eternity, but was more like an hour. The play between light and shadow made me pause on so many occasions, putting the tripod down for a few exposures. During one of these times, I heard breathing in the distance and looked up.

There was a line of camels walking just past the trees. Their size took me by surprise, for this was my first time in the presence of such large animals. Time stood still it seemed, for here we were in the wild and with only a line of trees between us. It felt right to just enjoy the moment, leaving the camera on my back, and then walk back to Mukesh to share the experience.


Website
Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad V system, onto Ilford Delta 100 film.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Taylor + El Mirage, Los Angeles, California, 2016



A little over a year ago El Mirage was the scene for a most incredible collaboration. Thanks to Cami's selfless spirit we were blessed to have Taylor on our team for the afternoon. From a photographer's perspective, it is deeply moving to watch two creatives want the other to succeed even more so than themselves.

Regardless of what many may presume, the photographer is the least important aspect of the equation. We may have the most perfect location, the latest gear and the best weather. All would fall flat without two such beautiful beings in front of the lens. A point-and-shoot camera with Cami and Taylor would be better than a Hasselblad and those without vision.

Suffice it to say we had that Hasselblad for the session, and thankfully so. The session started with a great drive out, as it was refreshing to have two other people in the car. The conversation was wonderful, and we arrived at El Mirage with the most beautiful sky as our backdrop. They exchanged ideas, as well as outfits, and took their turns in front of the lens. The images from that session are as beautiful as any in my work, and these two sublime women have my deepest gratitude for sharing their talents on that afternoon.

Hopefully 2018 gives us another chance to collaborate!


Website
Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Carolina + The Stylings of Lunara, El Mirage, California, 2016


A little over a year ago it was my honor to document the creations of Lunara Love, as presented by the most talented Carolina. We met at the apartment first, where the team was getting the pieces ready for our session. We packed everything up and started the two hour drive to the dry lake bed.

The sky was a little hazy, but allowed the sun to shine for extended periods. This gave the team enough time to change, while keeping in mind the sun for the photography. Unlike other sessions earlier in the week, the wind allowed us to work without worry.

We exposed less film than usual because the changes were extensive. This however allowed us to concentrate on the presentations more so and was a needed change for me. The excitement was in the air and carried us back to Los Angeles energized.


Website

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M

Monday, November 6, 2017

Young Student + Home, Rajasthan, India, 2017


She lives right next to Nirvanavan Foundation's Advaita Garden. Her walk to school takes less than a few minutes, and she does so with her younger brother and sister. She is at times shy and at times outgoing. When she smiles she does so completely, and when she is noticed she will usually run away in joy. 

Her independence is remarkable, for she lives in a home without neighbors. She lives with her three siblings, parents and grandparents. Every minute of her day seems busy, from helping her mother with chores to caring for her younger siblings.

Usually when I photograph her I do so alone, without help from the foundation. We communicate with a few common words, and with hand gestures. Her parents know me well enough and allow me to interact with their children freely, quite remarkable for such a society. While this is wonderful, it makes for some very difficult photography. Child psychology would have been a smart minor to have taken in college!

There are few instances when my work demands color film, and this is certainly one of them. Everyone at the foundation has noticed her beauty, and her eyes. Whenever I mention her name, the teachers nod in agreement. Hopefully in four months she will allow me to document her once again, and color film will certainly be included in my bag in case she does!


Website
Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Carolina + The Stylings of Lunara, El Mirage, California, 2016


A little over a year ago it was my honor to document the creations of Lunara Love, as presented by the most talented Carolina. We met at the apartment first, where the team was getting the pieces ready for our session. We packed everything up and started the two hour drive to the dry lake bed.

The sky was a little hazy, but allowed the sun to shine for extended periods. This gave the team enough time to change, while keeping in mind the sun for the photography. Unlike other sessions earlier in the week, the wind allowed us to work without worry.

We exposed less film than usual because the changes were extensive. This however allowed us to concentrate on the presentations more so and was a needed change for me. The excitement was in the air and carried us back to Los Angeles energized.


Website
Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Young Student + Window, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017


This afternoon was spent with incredible Anna Discenzo and her classroom of inquisitive souls! It was a deep honor to present the school in India to her students. The questions took me by surprise in the nicest of ways, for her students were incredibly bright. The questions ranged from the political system in India to the way garbage is recycled, and everything in between. Anna and her students, with the help of  Ayman Alkayali, have raised a substantial amount to help Nirvana and his team establish the new school.... and all received a portrait of their counterpart in that very school as a physical reminder of their dedication!

Website

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.