Thursday, June 28, 2012

Landscape on the Side of the Road, Somewhere between Havana and Santiago, Cuba, July 2010

It can be as simple as stopping the car and making an image on the side of the road. I look forward to more of these images, more of stopping every hour or so to take in the scene. There are those alongside the road selling blocks of cheese, there are those selling pineapple split into four slices with a stem to hold onto.

It is paradise for a photographer this incredible island. Anywhere one looks an image forms itself, clouds appear and landscapes transform to anything but the mundane. In our second week we plan to drive out to Holguin in search of a ballerina from four years ago named Irinita. It is during this trip that I will hope for scenes such as the one above, made on our way back two years ago in search of other faces and spirits.

I will send Irinita's aunt an email just now and hope that they will receive it. My dear friend has already contacted them and they await our presence in a few weeks. This most beautiful, young girl has choreographed a piece for us and will perform it upon our arrival. We have remained in contact since her first and only portrait in 2008 in front of the famed Lizt Alfonso School of Ballet.

She was the first one to allow me her portrait and allowed others to have the courage to do so. I will travel days to see her, and spend days just making her portrait. Years ago this would have been impossible, to photograph a single person for a span of a few days. I have come to appreciate the process of portraiture more so and look forward to this July on the island.

Her story was mentioned in this blog before, and her link is listed below.

A Ballerina Named Irinita

For more of my work, and to contribute your thoughts regarding this project, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Hands of a Working Man, Streets of Havana, Cuba, July of 2011

This year I hope to make images in a more spontaneous manner, like the image above.

While walking up and down the streets, opportunities are missed because we're walking to our next destination. The man with these hands was almost such a missed chance. On this day we walked a little more slowly, and recognized a mutual curiosity.

He was sitting with two other friends on a ledge in front of a home. They were taking a break from work, and watching people walking down the street. We talked a bit and then asked to make images of their hands. Each had their way of extending the hands, and this was his way.

Here they are, instruments he has used over the past five decades to support himself and his family. They extend from an unfocused background, like messengers from the past, and tell us their stories. The stains from under his fingernails are evidence of his creations, of his sweat.

I admire the working man and believe that this is the truest of heroes. He asks for nothing more than sustenance for him and his loved ones, and offers his hands as a sign of his humanity. He understood my desire to photograph his hands and allowed such to be done with only a smile on his face. I cannot express my gratitude fully when this is done on behalf of my work, I can only do my best to preserve the image for future generations.

For more of my work, and to contribute your thoughts regarding this project, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Elderly Woman, The Street, Habana, Cuba, July 18, 2011

On the second roll of film in the morning this image was made.

She was sitting on a ledge in front of a home, with newspapers all around. As Eldo and I crossed the street we saw her. It took me a minute to share my thoughts with Eldo, for we were crossing one of the busiest streets in the capital. People were walking to work and everyone noticed us slowing down to speak with her.

Eldo is both my friend and my guide on the island. He helps me like few others have ever done. He believes in the work and considers it his own. In the morning he prepares pineapple juice for us and in the evening rice and beans are waiting by the good grace of his beautiful wife.

He is also a photographer, but approaches his subjects in a different way. Rather than waling to them directly and speaking with them regarding their portraits, he likes to communicate only with gestures and make images after receiving more subtle forms of agreement. So for Eldo to walk up to this wonderful woman and speak directly is a testament to his dedication regarding our collaboration.

We begin making images with our 35 mm cameras at first, then pull out the medium format pieces and the tripod. On this busy street we are noticed by many, and our actions cause people to react in different ways. Some move on without sharing their thoughts, some show their disapproval openly. While I have never been able to completely ignore such reactions, this tender woman allows her portrait to be made and does so with more confidence than both photographers combined.

She neither judged our actions nor the reactions of the people walking by us. I admired her then and even more so after going through her images just today. I will walk past this exact spot many times this July and hope to see her on this same ledge. I will then hand her this exact portrait and hope she allows me another.

For more of my work, and to contribute your thoughts regarding this project, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

La Bailarina y El Fotógrafo, Leidy y Eldo, Alamar, Cuba, July, 2011

Eldo works feverishly during my time on the island. From speaking with people to gaining access to certain populations, he does so in a most genuine manner. He cares about my work and considers it his own. When we sit down with the families, he never shows signs of being tired, of wanting to leave. He adores them as I do.

He is also a photographer and makes images during our sessions. He translates and instructs while releasing his own shutter. Eldo works with film, but uses a digital camera during our collaboration. The images above are his creations. What makes him even more remarkable is that he is doing this while doing many other tasks on my behalf.

For this session we meet Leidy outside of her home and then take her to the beach. She happens to live in the same neighborhood as two of our other dancers, and knows them well. It's a small world after all. She is a consummate professional, and works primarily as a dancer in the capital. She never tires nor does she show frustration when we ask for something new.

Hopefully I will see her and her friends in five weeks and look forward to the collaboration.

For more of my work, and to contribute your thoughts regarding this project, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Young Girl, Daasanech Community, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, February, 2010

Just like her sister in Cuba in the previous post, she is surrounded by her younger sisters and in a safe place amongst her community. Every hour or so during the busy days a truck carrying tourists stops in the town next to her tiny village. A narrow river divides them from the rest of this area's population. Some tourists reach them from Kenya on the other side of the river, and some cross the river from Ethiopia to reach them. We were part of the latter group.

Upon crossing the river we walked perhaps ten minutes to reach them. We first negotiated with the elders prior to our photography, then rested a bit with some videography before beginning with the photography. It was cloudy so we experimented a bit with some images on the ground. As the sun rose from behind the clouds the girls allowed us to make their portraits standing up.

Although communication through spoken word was impossible for me, the translators needing even their own translator, communication through facial expressions was more than sufficient. Like my friends in Cuba, this young woman reacted as kindly to my gestures. She smiled when teased and never made it seem difficult, nor out of place.

According to Wikipedia:

'The Daasanach are a primarily agropastoral people; they grow sorghum, maize, pumpkins and beans when the Omo river and its delta floods. Otherwise the Daasanach rely on their goats and cattle which give them milk, and are slaughtered in the dry season for meat and hides. Sorghum is cooked with water into a porridge eaten with a stew. Corn is usually roasted, and sorghum is fermented into beer. The Daasanach who herd cattle live in dome-shaped houses made from a frame of branches, covered with hides and woven boxes (which are used to carry possessions on donkeys when the Daasanach migrate). The huts have a hearth, with mats covering the floor used for sleeping. The Dies, or lower class, are people who have lost their cattle and their way of living. They live on the shores of Lake Turkana hunting crocodiles and fishing. Although their status is low because of their lack of cattle, the Dies help the herders with crocodile meat and fish in return for meat.'
'Women are circumcised by removing the clitoris so the form of circumcision is less extreme than some as it leaves room for babies to be born. Women who are not circumcised are called animals or boys and cannot get married or wear clothes. Women wear a pleated cowskin skirt and necklaces and bracelets, they are usually are married off at 17 while men are at 20. Boys are circumcised. Men wear only a checkered cloth around their waist.'

During the session I became quite exhausted and asked to rest for a bit. A few days after this session we would visit a rural hospital and would recuperate nicely. For the time being however we decided to end the photography early and made our way to the truck and back to the shack we would call home for the night. Seizures and fever would be my friends for the evening, and the sound of truckers with their female companions outside as my sonic entertainment.

A few pain/sleeping pills were taken in the hope that the night would end early for me, at least before the mosquitos found their way through the devastated netting. As far as I was concerned, they could feast as they wish as long as I was asleep. In the end they made their way inside,  began their party and then stayed for the night before I found myself asleep. All in all, the young woman above and her friends made this night insignificant. In the future I will hopefully return to this community, with proper mosquito netting in hand.

For more of my work, and to contribute your thoughts regarding this project, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Aunt, Centro Habana, Cuba, July 10th, 2011

In five weeks we will be on the same street photographing her family once again. Seven years ago her niece was the first one photographed, now the entire family has been included. This is her first portrait. She gave of herself in order to allow the younger ones to be more comfortable in the sunlight; she allowed her hair to be thrown in the air without reservation.

From this session we made the best images of her niece since that first year, and credit goes to her and to my host family for allowing us to use the rooftop as our studio. My friend's wife worked with the girls' hair, and dressed them up nicely for their portraits. This was the first year such care was provided to them prior to the photography, and the mood was jubilant.

In the street she presents herself as a tough, young woman. She certainly has reason to do so from my limited experiences. On the rooftop she was more reserved, spoke less and smiled much more. When I asked her to be photographed, she grinned and walked up to the wall without question. This was a safe place for her, with her younger sisters all around.

After the photography we walked downstairs into my friends' home, and had some cold ice cream from the local corner bodega, chocolate and strawberry the flavors.

For more of my work, and to contribute your thoughts regarding this project, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography