Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ballerina + I, León, Nicaragua, 2017

Gracias a mi hermano Ervin Santana en Nicaragua tenemos una foto de la fotografía en León. Mientras Ervin estaba fotografiando a los bailarines en el estudio, les pedí permiso a algunos de los padres para fotografiar a las chicas más jóvenes mientras esperaban. Para mi sorpresa, anoche, Ervin me envió esta imagen que documenta el momento en el que estábamos hablando entre fotografías. Estoy agradecido por su amistad, y espero volver a este estudio para más fotografía en diciembre. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Jaedon + Dry Lake Bed, El Mirage, California, 2017

Here she was at the end of our session, as she sat ever so gently on the cracked surface of the dry lake. The sun had almost set and her shadow was long. This is our spot and to where we have gone for the past three years. Every time plans are made for California Jaedon is included... and every time she is asked she responds without hesitation.

Just like our first year, when we began our drive out to El Mirage we did so with snacks provided by Jaedon. She has always done so and has always thought of both of us, rather than just herself. She of course brought a variety of clothing for our afternoon, one which started at least an hour early so that we could find the perfect locations. This is the kind of acceptance necessary to create timeless images.

Our collaboration on this afternoon lasted until the last ray of sunlight disappeared into the desert landscape. It took us at least twenty minutes to gather ourselves, to allow our energy to calm down enough for the ride back into Los Angeles. It was yet another memorable chapter, one for which I am eternally grateful.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 503 CW/100 mm combination onto Ilford 100 Delta film.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sewing Centers by Nirvanavan Foundation, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2018

As Nirvanavan Foundation moves forward with the school in the Shamli District of Uttar Pradesh. An interfaith effort is gaining strength, and the first two sewing centers have just opened along with the initial stages of the school!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Man with Cigarette, Countryside of Cuba, 2017

After an early afternoon at Gysleda's school our group walked together to the main street in order to get taxis home. My friends were concerned about me but accepted my assurance and caught a taxi to their separate homes. Immediately after they left two men standing next to their taxi struck up a conversation with me, while they were speaking to their police friend. They asked me if I needed a ride.

I hesitated then asked them if they would be wiling to head into the countryside. They told me that they were from the countryside and would be more than happy to take me there. We agreed on a price for four hours and headed out. Here I was with two strangers driving more than an hour away from the city, a testament to the people of Cuba.

We talked as we drove and they invited me to their neighborhood. First we drove to the assistant's home and met his family. His grandmother was really sweet, as was her family. Then we headed to the driver's neighborhood, a much larger one with more families. We said hello to his family and while we were speaking the neighbors showed interest in our visit.

The neighbors included this man who was quite the comic. They agreed to be photographed and he dared me to photograph him with his cigarette. I agreed of course and we exposed a few frames with him releasing the smoke ever so slowly. Everyone was laughing at the scene, helping break the ice even more so.

This is the kind of meeting which makes the photography so special. One minute we're in the city looking for a taxi home and the very next minute we're in a neighborhood one hour away making portraits.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Xtina + Water, Cleveland, Ohio, 2017

This past year took me to far away places in search of the most exquisite while, at the same time, teaching me that beautiful souls exist in my own neighborhood. It was my honor to have been included in this young woman's life for the past seven years, and even more so to be given the opportunity to document her story more so this past year.

We had wanted a session in the water but lacked time in our first session. So the second time we met we did so much earlier and headed out to Lake Erie in search of a good spot. We did fine one and headed to the water with excitement. While there were more people than normal for me for a session, it was as if we were in our own, magical world.

We began outside of the water and exposed a couple of rolls. Then we found the courage to head into the cool water while the clouds began rolling in. Fortunately we were given a few moments when the sun found its way through the clouds and illuminated Xtina's sublime features and in these moments the shutter was released.

She was of course a natural, as we have collaborated more than several times for the past seven years. She moved between expressions with ease, and presented her expressions in a seemingly effortless manner.

My hope is that we get another chance this year to do even better!

Note: This image was made with a Fuji GA645 film camera.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Anyel in Color, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2017

The idea is to expose one roll of color per day. Yet on every single trip that idea never becomes reality. This past summer in Cuba was close, with a roll every day and a half. This frame was just scanned today, over six months after it was exposed. We were almost finished with our session when we decided to make a few images against this backdrop.

Anyel is quite the professional and comes to the sessions with the most pleasant attitude. Working with her is a pleasure for the images reflect her spirit to excel. Many times we notice her moving to the music being played from the car, and she always smiles when she knows she's been caught..

We have collaborated for the past four years for she participates in Gysleda's school for modeling EGOS. It is the premiere school of its kind in Havana, and produces some of the most incredible talent on the island. Her space is one of the most creative in the city, a truly peaceful place to be in the midst of the chaos.

After seeing the color scans from tonight I will be taking even more color rolls with me this summer!

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination onto Kodak Ektar 100 film.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Anays Diz Pe + EGOS, La Habana, Cuba, 2018

Quizás lo mejor sea hablar sobre la sesión y guardar los elogios para otra persona. Esto lo hago por dos razones, la primera de las cuales es que ella es una persona increíblemente humilde. La segunda razón es que todos los que me conocen entienden mi sincera admiración por ella, sin la necesidad de explicar más.

Esta imagen fue expuesta durante nuestracolaboración con EGOS, una escuela de modelaje dirigida por nuestro querido amiga Gysleda Virginia De La Barca Vega. Es la mejor escuela de modelos en Cuba y produce algunos de los talentos más increíbles de la isla. Uno de esos talentos es esta chica, que contiene mucho más que modelar, por supuesto.

En este día, al menos una docena de modelos caminaron con nosotros mientras buscábamos los mejores lugares, mientras hacíamos fotografías que la escuela podría usar para cada modelo. De vez en cuando aparecía mi cámara de película, especialmente cuando se veía un momento especial. Al final de la tarde, cuando todo el trabajo estuvo terminado, nos dirigimos a un estacionamiento y usamos los últimos 30 minutos para fotografiar a los interesados.

Por supuesto, ella estaba interesada, y todavía estaba llena de energía y creatividad. La luz era perfecta, ya que la cámara se bajó al suelo para obtener el ángulo correcto. Se expuso un rollo y todos fueron testigos de lo increíble que era frente a la cámara. Ella es verdaderamente sin igual, sin lugar a dudas.

Nota: esta imagen fue hecha con una combinación Hasselblad 555 ELD / 180 mm.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Young Ballerina + Tracks, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2017

Over the past four years it has been my sincere honor to have photographed this young ballerina. Her parents are as kind as any in my work, and have always shared an immense pride in our collaboration. Whenever the sun was up in the afternoon they would call us and find out where we were, and if a session with their daughter was possible.

This is exactly what happened with this frame, as we had a rare, sunny afternoon. Her parents called us and we drove over to their home in central Havana. They were ready when we arrived and left their store in the hands of neighbors while we headed out to the countryside. We arrived in Guanabacoa and went about asking the families for permission to use their homes. We were embraced as we had always been and began with a home near these tracks.

In time we walked over to the railroad tracks which were a favorite to the family. We had perhaps 30 minutes of sunlight left and moved quickly to set up the cameras. She was ready of course and the fact that the sunlight was soft just made her day. It felt like forever in the sweetest of ways and we exposed perhaps four rolls of film in the meantime.

She was flawless and, to the delight of her parents, composed herself perfectly for each frame. One almost forgets the age of these ballerinas and for good reason. She has my sincerest respect and hope that we can do better for her this summer!


Note: This frame was exposed with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/100 mm combination.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Model + Sidewalk, EGOS, La Habana, Cuba, 2017

This past summer on the island my collaboration with the magnificent Gysleda Virginia De La Barca was stronger than ever. In addition to the sessions with her models outside of her school EGOS, we walked the streets of the city with a camera in hand and a dozen of her models.

As one can imagine all eyes were on us as we walked around looking for the perfect locations. Of course all eyes were on the models rather than the photographer, but it felt interesting nonetheless. Usually the tourists are looking up at the buildings, with their sunglasses on and their smartphones up in the air. This time around it was as if they were forced to look at the people of Cuba, rather than the buildings and the cars.

For me it has always been the people, for they define the country. With Gysleda it is exactly the same thought, and she embraces all colors and shapes. Rather than adhering to the global norms of beauty, she supports her models and stresses to each one of them the value of their individual beauty. For this and so much more she has my endless admiration and respect.

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

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Young Syrian + Camp, Zahle, Lebanon, 2017

This young girl lives in Lebanon at this time, escaping the violence next door in her homeland of Syria. Her home happens to be the camp in which my photography was born, and she lives among the children of the children whose portraits were made almost 20 years ago.

She is quite the strong spirit, allowing this portrait to be made on our first day together. It was as if she had done this a million times before, such a natural. Her eyes are as clear as the Lebanese sky during the summertime, yet she was able to open her eyes perfectly in the sunlight. She is a sister to the girls just photographed in Nicaragua, to the girls photographed a few months ago in Cuba and to the girls in India to be visited in two months.

Her life is almost unimaginable for most, having lost her homeland and living in a tent city where even the most basics of life are absent. Unlike the children of my friends, she cannot attend a school, lacks a place to bathe herself or to attend to her needs in private. She presents herself to the world in this portrait with only the positive, perhaps as if to shield us from the difficulties she faces on an hourly basis. I admire her without limits, and see her as a true hero in this most difficult world.


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

Friday, January 5, 2018

Following in My Father's Footsteps, Old Leon, Nicaragua, 2017

Two weeks ago my path led me to this scene in Leon where my Father began his new life in the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes in the late 1940s. To be in the same locations where my parents had been so many decades before gave me a feeling which is truly indescribable. My hope is that the images made during my first return will honor the feelings felt.

Note: This scene is located in Old Leon, the site of the second oldest city and first capital of Nicaragua. Due to volcanic activity such as seen here, the inhabitants moved to present day Leon and the old capital was buried by the relentless volcanic activity.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Nica + I, Villa Sandino, Nicaragua, 2017

The more days spent in my birthplace the more it feels like home. Case in point is this selfie made just yesterday as we found our way back from the east of the country. We happened upon this young girl's neighborhood and decided to approach her community for photographs. Like everyone else so far they agreed to be photographed and in just a few minutes she was comfortable enough to allow this selfie.

To tell the truth she and her sister felt comfortable enough with us to hold our hands as we walked around looking for others to photograph. Once we let the neighbors know we were there, a few children walked our way and a session was started a hundred or so meters from her home.

She was quite the bundle of energy making her difficult to photograph, yet that same energy hopefully turned into some amazing portraits on film. She and her family live in a simple wooden structure, as basic as any home in Nicaragua. Yet it is hard to tell from her portraits, for she is as complete as any girl in any other land. We bid her family farewell and promised that we'd pass by their neighborhood on my next visit to Nicaragua.

It feels just like home now, and there are two weeks to go!

Note: This selfie was made with a Sony RX100M3.