Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Magdalena, Southern California, 2019




Last year I was lucky enough to spend 3 months in California, and took advantage of every weekend possible. Each week one of my incredible friends allowed themselves to be driven two hours out of Los Angeles, and gave their entire afternoon/evening to the sessions. These three are from two different sessions with Magdalena, one of the most sincere people in my life. 

Jessica y Juan Alberto, Las Canchas, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2018



No es necesario escribir en exceso para describir esta imagen, su pasión necesita poca descripción. Hace dos años fue un honor documentar sus increíbles talentos, y estoy agradecido con nuestro colega Tamy por habernos reunido a todos esa hermosa mañana.

Extraño a estas tres personas hermosas, y extraño este espacio increíble. Al llegar por la mañana gracias a Idiovel, la paz que nos recibe en este espacio es inolvidable. La hierba suele estar húmeda después de una noche fresca, y pronto se secará con el sol naciente.

Hemos tenido muchas sesiones aquí, y todas son especiales para mí. Este me recuerda que necesito regresar pronto a la isla y documentar a mi hermosa familia cubana. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Kylee + Darkroom, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, Near Los Angeles, California, 2019


It feels great to be in the darkroom again, day after day, full-time for the next six months. Seeing the fruits of our photographic labor on paper is beyond rewarding.

 

Grain + Syrian Refugee, Near Zahle, Lebanon, 2019



When I began using film almost 25 years ago, grain was an enemy. Now I embrace the clusters of silver particles and enlarge an image extensively to see them!

Another day in the darkroom with her negative being printed first. The actual image is a bit further from her but it felt right to amplify her features, to showcase her strength up close. She is a Syrian girl forced to live in Lebanon, with her family doing what it can to survive. It was and is a privilege to have made her portrait, and I hope that these images help carry her message further.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Syrian Girl + Classroom, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019


Last summer was supposed to be spent in Cuba, but Customs officials seized my film and plans changed. The summer was instead spent expanding on the work begun in 1997 and going to new camps. One such place was this young girl's camp. 

Like the rest of the girls in my photography in Lebanon, she is Syrian and was forced to move from her home. The camp in which she lives is quite large, and split into three parts. Each part represents Syrians from various parts of the country. What they have in common is their heartache, and desire to see their homeland once again.

For this portrait a very nice man allowed me to enter the school that a European NGO started for their children. He had the key and we found the space to be both serene and creative. All of the girls went home to prepare, to play with their hair and to also bring some scarves for variety.

There was a meshwork in the window along with a wooden stick. This incredible man removed both so that the light can enter freely, and put that material back up once we finished. These details make these portraits, and without them the images would be impossible.

She is a remarkably strong girl, and had no problem being photographed in front of the rest of her friends. As a matter of fact I returned on two more occasions to make her portrait, in the same space and with that glorious window ready. Last summer the photography in Lebanon changed, as we entered schools and people's homes to make the best portraits possible.

The sheen of the paper has been left alone in this image, so that we get a sense of the magic of film photography, and the depth of the shadows. It's a privilege to have made her portrait, and to have this final image in my hands this evening.
 

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A Syrian Through the Loupes, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019


A look through the loupes of a negative made last summer in Lebanon, of a Syrian refugee living in a camp near Zahle. While the pandemic has prevented me from seeing her and her family this summer, they are in my thoughts constantly. The printing of their negatives in the darkroom helps me relive our encounters from last year. She and her family have been living in Lebanon since the hostilities forced them to leave Syria. My hope is that one day they can return and rebuild their homes.

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Kylee + Light Leak, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, California, 2019




There’s something magical about the darkroom, the place where light which was faithfully transmitted to film can then be transferred to light-sensitive paper. This is what film photography means to me, reviewing the test strip and then selecting the time and contrast to represent the moment captured on that incredible day!  

PS The light leak represents the mechanical side, reminds me that chaos is the order of the world... which led to printing it full frame and to embrace the disorder. 

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Young Syrian + Scarf, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019


As the series from last year in Lebanon continues, more and more familiar faces rise through the developer. This young girl lives but ten minutes away from my family's home in Zahle, and in the very first encampment which gave birth to my images in Lebanon over two decades.

Her portrait needed to be printed close up, cropped and large, embracing the grain of #kodaktrix and her incredibly strong expression!


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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Chemicals + Darkroom, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 2020


Everything is ready to go for another week in the darkroom, finishing the prints from Lebanon and moving on to the negatives from Nicaragua.

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Best Friends, Syrian Girls, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019


There’s something magical about the darkroom, the place where light which was faithfully transmitted to film can then be transferred to light-sensitive paper. This is what film photography means to me, from the selection of the negative, to the placement under the light source, to the focus on the easel, to the test strip, to the setting of contrast and finally to the fiber print!

This was printed today, a portrait of two best friends from my time in Lebanon last year. They are Syrians living in Lebanon during these difficult times, and are on my mind as summer approaches. My hope is that their future is as bright as the light in this enlarger, and as pure.


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Cami + Darkroom, El Mirage Dry Lake Bed, Southern California, 2017


Today was spent in the darkroom printing my collaborations with Cami and starting with the first two times we worked together. I have been fortunate enough to have witnessed her incredible art over the years. Here was the first negative printed, and now the prints are on screens to dry for the night. 

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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Jasmine + Darkroom, Cleveland, Ohio, 2020








There’s something magical about the darkroom, the place where light which was faithfully transmitted to film can then be transferred to light-sensitive paper. This is what film photography means to me, from the selection of the negative, to the placement under the light source, to the focus on the easel, to the test strip, to the setting of contrast and finally to the fiber print... the entire process being analogue and made by hand! 

Website

Students in Uniforms, Rural Kenya, 2007


After Lebanon and India, it might be time to go way back to Kenya for the darkroom. The work is very different and will be a challenge in a good way. We'll see.

In this image are students as they waited to be photographed, and watched their friends being photographed. It was an overcast day, so we did what we could to accommodate and photographed all of them in groups. Sometimes two people, sometimes three people showed off their poses to the lens!
 

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Jasmine and Dry Lake, El Mirage, Southern California, 2017


Last month was spent in the darkroom with memories of Southern California under the enlarger. For this image Jasmine and I drove separately to El Mirage from two different cities, her from Los Angeles and me from San Francisco. We had never met before and were introduced to each other at the perfect time and the ideal space. It was an incredible afternoon, her creativity is truly remarkable. This weekend continues my work with the dancers in Los Angeles, and next week begins the printing of last summer in Lebanon. 

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Man with Roosters, Rural Kenya, 2007


These are the moments in between planned photography, when a man walks by on his way home with a rooster under his arm. This happened while in rural Kenya, photographing school children and those working for the sake of community development. I hope to return to the continent of Africa soon. 

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Stylist + Client, Virat Nagar, Rajasthan, India, 2020


While the world around us has at times become unrecognizable, I take comfort in looking at the images made just a couple of months ago. My hope is that we will rebound and find ourselves in a better place.

As soon as we are able to do so, the sewing centers will reopen. In addition to sewing, the centers will now include a parlor course. This was the idea of the teachers, and all students raisedtheir hands when asked if they wanted to participate.

Nobody in the villages has this capacity, and if the young women gain this knowledge... they can then take it with them to their husbands' villages and have a greater ability to support themselves and their families.

In this image two young students are having some fun imitating their older sisters, with Shanu taking center stage once again as the stylist for the afternoon. Her seriousness always amazes me!
 


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Two Students, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2018


When the girls are provided a moment to be themselves, to show affection for their friends, they are like girls all around the world. It is my honor to speak on their behalf to their headmaster. Each one of them knows that we are there specifically for them, that they are the center of our attention. It is very different than their day to day reality, but my hope is that we can be a part of the change to come soon.

Their headmaster is building a school specifically for the girls in the region, and we hope to help him do so. Of course this can't be done presently, but we believe in a brighter future and feel that these girls deserve more than our admiration.

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Cuando a las niñas se les da un momento para ser ellas mismas, para mostrar afecto por sus amigos, son como las niñas de todo el mundo. Es un honor hablar en su nombre con su director. Cada una de ellas sabe que estamos allí específicamente para ellas, que son el centro de nuestra atención. Es muy diferente a su realidad diaria, pero espero que podamos ser parte del cambio que vendrá pronto.

Su director está construyendo una escuela específicamente para las niñas de la región, y esperamos ayudarlo a hacerlo. Por supuesto, esto no se puede hacer actualmente, pero creemos en un futuro mejor y sentimos que estas niñas merecen más que nuestra admiración.
 


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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Jaedon + Joshua, Southern California, 2015


What a blessing it is to have a darkroom and to have the time to be in it!

Here is one from today, as I continue to print my collaborations with my photographic family from Southern California. On four separate occasions, and spanning five years, I have had the honor of documenting the art of Jaedon.
 


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Karen, Havana, Cuba, 2018


Caminar por las calles con la maestra y sus alumnos es como el cielo para mí, una oportunidad especial. ¡Recuerdo el momento exacto de esta foto, ya que el sol se estaba poniendo al otro lado de la calle con menos de un minuto!

Un comentario la semana pasada de mi querida amiga Karen me conmovió a publicar esta imagen de hace dos años. El recuerdo es agridulce, porque ha pasado mucho tiempo desde mi última visita a Cuba ... y la visita de este verano parece imposible. Sin embargo, una de las lecciones aprendidas de mis amigos cubanos es la de la paciencia. Entonces, mirar hacia atrás en esta imagen me da fuerzas para mirar hacia adelante.

Gracias a la increíble Gysleda Virginia De La Barca Vega, pudimos caminar por las calles de La Habana sin problemas. Lo que fue aún más increíble es que las jóvenes modelos tenían la dirección de la Maestra durante la fotografía. Encontraríamos los lugares más bellos, pondríamos todo abajo y procederíamos a hacer fotografías mientras las calles ocupadas.
 


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A Meal, Humana People to People India, Rajasthan, India, 2006


In an uncertain present I take comfort in looking back at better times. Somehow this past predicts a better future, one where we can once again sit down together and enjoy such a meal. Thus image goes back to my first year in India, when even my snapshots were made on film, with a Contax G2 in this example. The Humana India team was making lunch for the village, and the smell was fantastic. We were there to support a school for girls and are still doing so to this day, 14 years later!

Karen + La Habana, Cuba, 2018


Un comentario de mi querida amiga Karen Machado Vazquez me conmovió a publicar esta imagen de hace dos años. El recuerdo es agridulce, porque ha pasado mucho tiempo desde mi última visita a Cuba ... y la visita de este verano parece imposible. Sin embargo, una de las lecciones aprendidas de mis amigos cubanos es la de la paciencia. Entonces, mirar hacia atrás en esta imagen me da fuerzas para mirar hacia adelante.

Gracias a la increíble Gysleda Virginia De La Barca Vega, pudimos caminar por las calles de La Habana sin problemas. Lo que fue aún más increíble es que las jóvenes modelos tenían la dirección de la Maestra durante la fotografía. Encontraríamos los lugares más bellos, pondríamos todo abajo y procederíamos a hacer fotografías mientras las calles ocupadas.

Karen es excepcional, porque es modelo y bailarina y mucho más. Ella es capaz de expresarse sin dudarlo. ¡Fue un placer sincero documentar sus talentos, y por mi parte, espero con ansias nuestra próxima vez juntos en el futuro cercano!
 


Monday, June 1, 2020

Audra + Dry Lake, El Mirage, California, 2019


Today was spent once again in the darkroom, this time with the newest member of our photographic family in Los Angeles. My session with Audra last Fall was made possible by a mutual friend, and we have Cami to thank for this opportunity. Audra was fabulous, and expressed herself with such honesty. I look forward to more prints tomorrow!

Note: A Zone VI enlarger was used to print this Ilford negative onto Ilford Warmtone fiber-based paper... washed to archival standards with a Zone VI washer.
 


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Student + Teacher, Parlor Course, Rajasthan, India, 2020


In this snapshot we have our new stylist, and her teacher. The school is more than a school for this young girl, it is her world outside of her home. She loves to attend, and every time we arrive she steps out of her house to greet us.

Her teacher has known me ever since she was a young girl. Back then she had short hair, and loved to wear pants and shirts rather than a dress. I am very familiar with her smile, it is now as it was then, sublime.

Soon the school will reopen, and this teacher will attend parlor courses in the adjacent town so that she can teach the older girls in the village. Until then, our stylist is in business!
 


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Young Women + Sewing Center, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2020


For my Muslim brothers and sisters, we are also looking to connect 12 mosques stateside with 12 madrasas in rural Uttar Pradesh. I have been working with this community for over 6 years now, and would love to foster this connection. The idea was presented to me by the headmasters of these schools. One can only imagine the difference we can make!

A Dozen with Romy, Zahle, Lebanon, 2019


After the red eye from LA to DC, and the drive to CLE, it feels divine to have the processed film from this summer in Lebanon... thank you David and @dodgechrome for the beautiful negatives!

Behind the Scene, Nicaragua, 2020


Thanks to this young dancer's mom for this behind-the-scenes snapshot, as her daughter is the first dancer to be photographed by my Hasselblad in Nicaragua for 2020. It continues tomorrow in the city of León!

Gracias a esta madre de la joven bailarina para esta 'behind-the-scenes' foto, como su hija es la primera bailarina para ser fotografiada por mi hasselbad en Nicaragua para 2020. ¡Continúa mañana en la ciudad de León!


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Earthquake + Home, Managua, Nicaragua, 1972


Last month I also put forth an effort to find the location of our home before the earthquake of 1972. The first woman we met made my trip this year after a minute of conversation. It turned out that she had visited my parent's store and also remembered our apartment building. She was so elegant and exuded the past, while bringing everything into the present. We spoke for a while then followed her directions. Upon arriving we met the second woman of our morning. She had lived in our neighborhood since her birth and remembered our building perfectly as well. The thought that both woman had been in my life unknowingly took my breath away, made my year on the first day!

El mes pasado hice un esfuerzo por encontrar la ubicación de nuestra casa antes del terremoto de 1972. La primera mujer que conocimos hizo mi viaje este año después de un minuto de conversación. Resultó que ella había visitado la tienda de mis padres y también recordaba nuestro edificio de apartamentos. Ella era tan elegante y exudaba el pasado, mientras traía todo al presente. Hablamos un rato y luego seguimos sus instrucciones. Al llegar nos encontramos con la segunda mujer de nuestra mañana. Ella había vivido en nuestro bbarrio desde su nacimiento y también recordaba perfectamente nuestro edificio. La idea de que ambas mujeres habían estado en mi vida sin saberlo me dejó sin aliento, ¡hizo mi año el primer día!


Gallo Pinto, León, Nicaragua, 2019


Everyone who knows me knows I was in heaven last month in León. The fact that this was the city my father began his life in Nicaragua, and that he may have walked past this building more than a few times, is the backdrop of this meal!

Todos los que me conocen saben que el mes pasado estuve en el cielo en León. El hecho de que esta fue la ciudad en la que mi padre comenzó su vida en Nicaragua, y que pudo haber pasado por este edificio más de unas pocas veces, ¡es el telón de fondo de esta comida!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Tamy + El Campo, Cuba, 2018


Han pasado dos años desde mi verano en Cuba, y esta imagen representa mejor lo que esta isla significa para mí. Ante todo, son las personas ... y más específicamente mi querida amiga Tamy.

Ella es la profesional más talentosa, pero tiene la suficiente humildad para estar disponible para nuestras colaboraciones. Esta imagen es el resultado, porque tuvo la amabilidad depermitirnos recogerla al menos una hora antes de la luz del día.

Gracias a Idiovel y su Plymouth, llegamos a tiempo. Mientras conducíamos lentamente por esta aldea, Tamy vio esta casa y la hicimos nuestra primera parada. Si bien la mayoría de las personas carecen del valor para salir a la calle y a una casa sin previo aviso, Tamy lo hizo con tanta elegancia.

Cuando llegue 2020, tengo la esperanza de hacer de Cuba mi destino para el próximo verano. Si bien los funcionarios del aeropuerto hicieron imposible este verano pasado, es mi intención encontrar una solución y continuar con nuestra colaboración más sublime ... para tener un socio en el arte como Tamy es una bendición más allá de las palabras.

Gracias siempre mi amiga!

Nota: Esta imagen se hizo con un sistema Hasselblad V.

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It's been two years since my summer in Cuba, and this image represents best what this island means to me. First and foremost, it is the people... and more specifically my dear friend Tamy.

She is the most skilled professional, yet is humble enough to make herself available for our collaborations. This image is the result, as she was kind enough to allow us to pick her up at least an hour before sunrise.

Thanks to Idiovel and his Plymouth, we made it in time. As we drove slowly around this village, Tamy pointed to this house and we made it our first stop. While most people would lack the courage to step out into the street and to a house unannounced, Tamy did so with such elegance and poise.

As 2020 approaches, it is my hope to make Cuba my destination for next summer. While customs made this past summer impossible, it is my intention to find a solution and continue with our most sublime collaboration... for to have such a partner in art as Tamy is a blessing beyond words.

Thank you always my friend!

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad V system.