Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fatouma, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Summer, 2005

Just today sixty rolls of 400 ASA film is ordered from New York for the upcoming Cuban trip.

On my mind during the order is the portrait of Fatouma above. It has been over six years since both this image and my use of anything but slower film. For this trip to Cuba, it is my intention to make images both in direct sunlight and in subdued light.

Since Fatouma's portrait six years ago, many visits to her home have been made and her portrait repeated. This first image is perhaps considered the easiest one for me of her, for she was a stranger to me then. Ironically as she has gotten to know me she has become a bit more shy.

Usually she allows herself to be photographed on the first day, perhaps in response to the pictures handed out and to the excitement of the other children. Then upon subsequent trips during the same two week visit, she becomes withdrawn in the sweetest of ways and goes about her chores which range from gathering water to tending to the sheep to washing clothes.

To see her tending to a dozen or so animals, all the while she is less than half of one animal's weight, is incredibly fascinating. She lacks fear and approaches each task without trepidation. She is a most confident young girl and asserts herself in response to either girls or boys. On my last trip, she denied me her portrait in the tradition of girls from the area growing up.

She however lives in my memory through the portrait above. I will still visit her as long as she will allow it. Perhaps one day I will photograph her daughter, at least until I am denied her portrait as well.
Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, June 19, 2011

One With Clear Eyes, Outside of Havana, Cuba, July, 2010

Many have seen her since the first portrait back in 2005.

In that portrait she walks out of the water, barely allows her hair to dry and sits down on the sidewalk across from the famous Malecon to let a complete stranger make her portrait in less than five minutes.

On this day and five years later, she stands in front of her house early in the morning with her hair up and gives me two hours to make her portrait. She wakes up by 7:00 a.m. on a summer morning and walks back from her friend's house for us.

The day before, she tells me with a smile: 'You can come back as many times as you like.'

I thought she was lost on me two years before, as she experienced the turbulence of her teenage years. Although still a teenager in this portrait, she displays a calmness beyond her years. While my hands fumble around for the next roll of film in excitement, she smiles and chuckles.

If she is the only person in Cuba to photograph, she is reason enough for me to go in less than two weeks. She is the girl with the clear eyes, and this is just the beginning of her story.
Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dancer, Portrait by Eldo, Roof of Home, Havana, Cuba, July, 2010

Two years ago her portrait was made in front of the ballet school. In front of perhaps fifty people, students and parents of students, she stood tall and allowed two rolls to be exposed. Her mother gently helped her along through the process, proud to see her child so strong and graceful.

On this day, after much hard work by Eldo in search of her home, she suddenly arrives with a young family member for her portrait. This is a complete shock for me, since we have been trying really hard to find her. Eldo it seems wanted this to be a surprise.

She comes dressed for her performance. The temperature is by now above any comfort zone, and the color of her fabric absorbs even more so the sun, high in the sky by now. Nonetheless she closes her eyes and stretches her hands out, holding her poses for minutes at a time. She never once complains and is kind enough to allow my instructions in a limited Spanish.

For over an hour and during one of the hottest, most humid days, she performs for us. The young man also grants us his patience and kindness, helps her along and explains what is difficult for me to communicate. The respect she shows me will always be remembered. Here is a girl that has come from a home far away, dressed in her uniform while other children are playing in the streets of her neighborhood. She has a discipline that most lack, a love that few have ever seen.

Just today I received an email from Eldo. As I was scanning her negatives in preparation for my visit this July, he was visiting her family on my behalf. The news of my visit was shared with them and their response was like her response one year ago, one represented in her portrait above.

People often ask me: why do you visit these people? Do you fail to realize the importance of your family here?

I can only point them in the direction of the young girl above and hope that they understand.
Halim Ina Photography

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kamoy Magazine, Spirit Issue, Nerissa Irving Collaboration, June, 2011

The publication of my work in the Spirit Issue of Kamoy Magazine has been made possible through an incredible collaboration with Nerissa Irving, Editor in Chief and Creative Director.

The images within and their stories are in honor of the girls of Rajasthan.

'With this presentation and with much gratitude to Ms. Nerissa Irving, we hope that people will feel compelled to promote girls education in this most beautiful part of the world. Over the span of ten years, Humana People to People India has operated girls schools in these villages, all with the permission and knowledge of the parents. while an education is most elusive to girls in their situation, these young women have been able to attend classes usually headed by a young woman from their own village, serving as an example to them and their friends.'

'Unfortunately, these dozen schools were closed last year due to a general lack of funding. The good people of Humana People to People India have turned to me, to the good citizens of this world, to view the education of these girls as the education of their own. Our hope is that the readers of this wonderful publication will find inspiration through these images, through this story, and present incredible ideas culminating in the reopening of the schools. Perhaps a bake sale will surface, perhaps a collaboration with a local girls school, perhaps even a print purchase through my website. Regardless of the method, the intention will be most appreciated and treasured by the girls of Rajasthan, India.'

This is our hope. For a copy of this issue, you may click below.

Kamoy Magazine: The Spirit Issue
Halim Ina Photography