Friday, December 31, 2010

Pretty Poison, Model, Friend, Summer, 2010, Northeast Ohio, States

On that same cold summer afternoon, Cassandra is there.

This is Scarlett's friend, the person who has set up this photographic session. She is kind enough to share her time with me and allow Scarlett to be photographed. When we meet in that parking lot, it is the parking lot of her friend's business.

We start by meeting each other at her home, a home reflecting her personality in every single way. She shows me kindness and courtesy. She and Scarlett bring an energy to the session that is refreshing, especially on this cold afternoon.

We begin our photography perhaps a few blocks from her home by searching for an appropriate wall. We are all included in this search and drive around looking for that wall. We find it and expose a few rolls at this spot, a small business as well.

We then move on to the spot that she had told me about a few weeks ago, even including images of the space for me to see. This is how organized and caring she is, how much she respects the collaboration.
As with Scarlett, she also awaits her portraits without worry or concern. She never sends me an inquiry but rather waits patiently knowing that much is on my photographic plate at this time. Just yesterday the portraits were sent to her, perhaps four months after our session. She sends me a note of gratitude immediately, perhaps within thirty minutes.

She also wishes me a very happy New Year. What a gem, what a gentle soul she is.
On my way back home after our photography, a friend calls me and tells me of a wedding reception on the West Side, a coincidence actually since the video camera is with me as well. The gathering is quite casual and a band is present. We set up the equipment and make a recording of the event for the groom, a friend as well.

Such is this afternoon and evening, just perfect in every way.

Her Model Mayhem page can be reached by clicking below.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scarlett Von Sinn, Model, Friend, Northeast Ohio, Summer Day, 2010

On a cold afternoon we make this image. The wind is blowing quite cool and the sun is perhaps one hour from disappearing. Three of us are working, two models and one photographer. While her portrait is being made, her friend waits in the car and warms up for her portrait.

The session occurs in the parking lot of a friend's business. We set up and use the white wall of the building as our background since our own is blowing in the wind. A spontaneous message a few days prior has made this day possible, in addition to the clarification that traveling to her area has been my intention all along. Her humility and courtesy had given her the impression that they would need to travel to my area and such was most difficult for her and her friend.

Many rolls are exposed, from different distances. In the end however, making her portrait from a closer distance allows me to document her ability to present the most subtle changes of expression. From one negative to another she displays this uncanny talent, so much so that my instinct is to load another roll of film and continue until the sun sets.

During the entire session, she is kind and courteous and without hesitation. Whatever is asked of her, whether to turn her head or to perhaps to look a certain direction, she does so in the most gentle of ways. She honors the people in my portfolio with every gesture, by wanting to be included in my portfolio rather than asking for something in return.

It has taken me almost four months to process her images and she has yet to express concern.

The camera rarely leaves my home in the States, for various reasons. Working with Sarah has given me more reason to do so in the future.

One may see her portfolio through the link below.

Scarlett Von Sinn

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Student, Orphan, HIV/AIDS, MACODEF, Western Kenya, March, 2007

So we walk from one school to another, from one town to another and from one church to another. One variable that seems less than variable is a shaved head. Almost every single child, especially the young, wears a shaved head.

The people from the foundation tell me that this is to lower the presence of lice. While most do come to school shaved, a few children have a considerable amount of hair. The same people from the foundation tell me that certain families are better situated financially and are able to maintain their children's hygiene more easily. Should they be able to prove such care, then their child is able to retain their hair.

On one occasion, we walk by a home where a mother is shaving her child's head with a razor blade. She is holding the blade in her bare hand and coating her child's head in soap water. The shaving occurs over a tub of water and the child holds herself extremely still. The sound of the blade against bare skin is similar to sand paper on metal.

She notices us to the side, smiles and continues with the shave without a second's hesitation.
According to the Mayo Clinic:

Lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that feed on your blood. Lice are easily spread — especially by schoolchildren — through close personal contact and by sharing belongings.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Orphan, Schoolchild, HIV/AIDS, MACODEF, Western Kenya, March, 2007

Driving from one spot to another, a scene is to become more and more familiar to me: coffins lined up on the side of the road for sale, some obviously small enough for children.

In this part of Kenya, orphans are orphans because of an epidemic called HIV/AIDS. In school after school visited, the first children to be photographed with the help of MACODEF are the orphans under their sponsorship.

These children know little about wars, conflicts and so on. They know all too much about the violence perpetrated on their social fabric by this epidemic. At the time of this child's birth, one out of every ten women in this region is infected with HIV/AIDS.

According to many estimates, the population living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya is third in number behind South Africa and Nigeria. With an active HIV/AIDS population near 1,500,000 living within its borders, the number of orphans in Kenya has increased to 1,200,000.

The young child above is one such example of the ongoing struggle with the epidemic. On this beautiful morning, we arrive early in order to photograph the youngest of the students. The previous day we photographed the older students.

All of the children are wearing sweaters due to the coolness of the morning. They stand up on a chair while the teachers help with their clothing. My position is below them and in a ditch so as to give me a lower angle. The portraits are made with the sky behind them, this is true for the girls.

We make perhaps three to four portraits per child and then move onto the next student. Each child takes off their shoes prior to standing on the chair. The respect between student and teacher is immense.

We finish our work for the morning and then move on to the next school, where the students will be waiting patiently for our arrival, a population that will tragically include a number of orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Giuseppina Magazine, Issue #04, December, 2010

Issue #04- December 2010

by Giuseppina Magazine on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 7:46pm

With the release of the December winter issue approaching, I'd like to take a moment to briefly voice some of my thoughts and feelings towards the upcoming issue. While some information will be contained, and kept exclusive to the authenticity of the release I'd like to simply start off by saying how grateful and privileged I am to have developed the community of artists and fanbase here via Giuseppina Magazine. I truly appreciate all who've contributed as well as helped launch Giuseppina by consistently promoting and advertising us! Giuseppina started off as a thought, just a thought to help promote and expose undiscovered and non-published, deserving talent alongside their peers and alike industry leaders. The magazine took flight with our debut release in June of 2010, and it is now widely described by a diverse range of individuals as "beautiful."

As Giuseppina Magazine continues to grow larger, our concepts will vary from our usual artistic thematic to concepts honing more substance. The December winter issue is the first of several issues that will serve as a substantial mark in making a statement. Without further ado, I'm proud to announce our headlining feature, Halim Ina. I was fortunate enough to come across Halim's work in my searches; a brilliant photographer who travels the world, documenting our brothers and sisters. His images simply encapsulate the energy of both the youth and elders prominent in the countries and villages he visits. Unlike so very few in the industry, he uses his photography as a tool to generate awareness, sharing his experiences and imagery with people across the world. I was so inspired in reviewing his work, that I also wanted to share it. Giuseppina Magazine was my solution. In collaboration with Halim Ina Photography, we are bringing something new to Giuseppina Magazine! I hope our fans are eager for more information on the release, and enjoy the cover preview of what's to come!

The issue #04 cover features a beautiful young girl from Havana, Cuba. The image was photographed in 2005. Below are some brief words from Halim Ina, about the image and experience:

"One warm evening at the end of a photographic day, we were resting at my friend's home when his son returned from a day of play. My friend then asked his son to gather a specific neighbor for me to see. Even in the darkness of the room the brilliance of her eyes was more than evident. We talked to her father and he agreed to allow us her portrait the next day.

We arrived the next day to make her portrait and noticed that she had just returned from the beach, still in her bikini. We arranged a place across from the Malecon in front of her home and set up our gear. We made a dozen exposures and then arranged to meet the next day for another session at her grandmother's home. For the very first time in my photography, a second session was arranged after the first.

We arrived that next day and saw her with her hair perfectly made. She had a way about her, immediately willing to allow us her portrait on more than one occasion. Her nature is calm and endearing. We made her portrait on the side of the road and also went to a neighbor's home to make her third portrait while seated on a mosaic floor.

In the five years since her first portrait, she has allowed me every single time to photograph her, five times in all. During my latest visit this past summer, she invited us back for a second session, one that was most appreciated because of her clear understanding of my work. She has now become a young woman and makes the decision to be a part of my work independent of her parents while of course having their permission.

She lives with her mother, stepfather and grandfather, along with two siblings from her mother's recent marriage. The family lives in a small, one-room apartment just outside of Havana. She is in school at this time and, when asked, responded that one of her aspirations in life is to become a model.

Every time we leave, she stands at the door waving her hands. She never allows us to leave without a kiss on the cheek and without her sweet words. This is a young woman who is aware of her surroundings, of herself and of the people that love her. This last category includes the masses of people that have seen her portrait and the photographer responsible for making it."

Please stay tuned for the official release towards the end of the month!

Thank you,

Jessica Rowell

Editor in Chief


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Young Woman, Model, Somewhere West of Habana, Cuba, 2008

People often ask: is this a studio portrait?

Since this portrait is from my experience, it is often difficult to see it from the viewer's point of view. The young woman above has never walked into a professional studio and lacks access to such a luxury.

On our way to the Baracoa, we notice a few farmers working the land. We step out of our rental car and ask permission to make their portraits. They accept graciously and all three of us proceed with our photography. My two friends, both of whom are Cuban, walk around with their 35mm cameras and make portraits of the home, the land and the people.

My camera and tripod are put into place and the first of the portraits is made from a low angle, leaving the blue sky as the background. A few older men are photographed as well as one older woman. In the process, some children gather and their portraits are made. We are near the main road and are visible to others from the area, including the young girl above. She walks over with a friend of the same age and watches as portraits are being made, clearly showing a desire to join in the photography. We ask her to ask her parents and then we proceed to make her portrait.

She is in her element, comfortable in front of her family and neighbors. Her poses are natural and her expressions candid. She tells us that she is visiting her family for the summer and lives in the outskirts of Habana for the rest of the year where she attends school.

We ask her friend to be photographed and she is a bit shy to do so. We finish our work, bid our farewell to everyone and then get back on the road.

In hindsight, perhaps the portrait could have been made to include the background, perhaps the image could have had a more inclusive style. In the end, the choice to exclude the background and focus on the person in the portrait was made, therefore producing a portrait in the style of a studio.

In the end, what's a studio?

We made our own studio that wonderful afternoon, on the side of the road and in the company of brothers and sisters. Others will have agents, contracts, make up artists, hair stylists and a large circle of professional assistants. We had each other, a camera and the sky. For my part, this is a most preferred set of circumstances.