Thursday, August 30, 2012

Young Girl, Happy Home, Zakat Foundation of India, November, 2008

Her name will remain anonymous out of respect for the work of the foundation. She lives in a home provided by the Zakat Foundation of India, and attends a wonderful school named God's Grace School. Some of the children in this home have suffered violence at the hands of religious intolerance, some arrived at the school because their parents can no longer provide for them.

The foundation receives their funding from ordinary individuals paying their dues as devout muslims. Some arrive to the building and ask the person in change to calculate their zakat, and then make their payment to the foundation.

According to Wikipedia:

'The Qur'an talks about the zakat in more than 30 different verses, mainly in the Medinan suras. In the Qur'anic view, zakat is a way to redistribute the wealth, thus increasing the role of charity in the economy with a particular interest in the poor and the dispossessed. However, zakat is considered more than charity - one must give zakat for the sake of one's own salvation. Neglecting to give zakat can result in damnation in the afterlife, while those who give zakat can expect reward from God in the afterlife. The giving of the zakat is considered a means of purifying one's wealth and one's soul.'

This young girl has experienced serious hardships in her life, yet never fails to smile whenever I look her way. Whether we're watching television in the room with the rest of the girls, or whether I catch her out of the corner of my eye walking down the hallway. There is something about her that is hard to explain, but incredible to experience. I consider myself blessed to have made the above portrait and will always remember her in this way.

Many years have passed since my last visit, and the foundation has moved many of the girls to a new home above a wonderful clinic. To this new home men are forbidden access, and thus my visits have ended. The foundation still admires my work and will always be a part of my photographic story. For the time being however the work will need to rest.

I have missed her very much, and look forward to one day connecting with her once again. Due to the internet however, some of her older sisters from the home have contacted me via the social media and our friendships have flourished once again. We speak now and then, and exchange greetings. I have passed on my adoration to this young girl and hope that she remembers me well. I can imagine her smile, and hope to one day document it without limitations.

For more of my work, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Monday, August 27, 2012

Saideh, Model, Friend, Near Lake Erie, Ohio, August 24, 2012

After driving around for an hour near the shoreline a white wall is found for our collaboration. We meet perhaps two hours before sunset, and begin immediately. Saideh brings with her once again an incredible selection of pieces, all dark and timeless.

The place chosen is the side of a local business, and away from the road. For perhaps an hour we move from full length images to closer portraits, and Saideh displays her talent at changing positions effortlessly. She understands my pace and stops now and then to allow me the release of the shutter. Much of the time we work with the digital camera, and every now and then we use film.

After a bit of time a man approaches us in his truck up the driveway and at first seems friendly. He makes a friendly joke about the collaboration and goes about his business. He then returns perhaps after twenty minutes and tells us that perhaps we might want to think about leaving since the owners of the building might be distressed about our presence.

We take his advice into consideration and feel that our work is harmless, therefore continuing with our work. About twenty minutes after that conversation the same man returns and this time is quite aggressive, telling us to leave in an unfriendly tone. This continues perhaps for ten minutes during which Saideh is quite composed, and understanding.

It gets to a point that we need to end our work because the man refuses to leave us alone. For whatever reason he might have, he has taken a keen interest in making our session end quickly, even though we advise him that moving to another location would eat up our remaining time.

Luckily for me I have Saideh, a most resourceful woman. She tells me that on her way to meeting me she had also seen another white wall, perhaps less than 100 meters from this one. We decide to drive over to that wall and find that it's actually a nicer one. This time people are present to whom we can speak. I approach the factory entrance and am met by a large, friendly man. He listens to our story and gives us his permission to use the white wall as our background.

The images above were made at the second location, at ease and with plenty of sun. The grass is soothing, and the mood serene. We work for perhaps 45 minutes and see the sun setting behind the trees, causing us to stop we think. As we begin to put everything away I notice a white trailer behind the factory, and quickly begin unpacking the equipment. We move to the trailer and, with the guidance of the same man, work for perhaps twenty minutes more.

During the entire time Saideh remains calm, and shows her support. After we are finished we sit down for a lemonade and chat for a while. She has a keen interest in creating beautiful images and a deep appreciation of the people within my portfolio. They are in my mind her brothers and sisters, and will see her portrait upon my next trip. We part with the thought of our next session in our minds.

For more of my work, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jenesis, Model, Friend, I-77, Ohio, August 16, 2012

For our second session we are finally able to work in the light of the sun.

Jenesis waited weeks for my return from Cuba, and she waited patiently. Just the week before we needed to cancel our session due to my personal obligations. She shared her understanding without reservation and with a smile.

We arrange to meet at an unusual place, just off of I-77. For both of us the spot is perhaps twenty minutes away. As with the last session she brings an incredible array of clothing, all dark and all timeless. Certainly there are pieces that speak of a specific era... but she blends them effortlessly so as to give them their own voice.

We begin with one outfit and change to perhaps three more. A few images are made on top of the compressor for the air-conditioning unit, and other images are made against a white wall and standing on the grass next to the building. The sun is quite strong but Jenesis adapts, and works on my behalf without a single complaint.

After our session we return to my studio and select her favorites, which turns out to be quite an ordeal since so many were her favorites. The ordeal was more of a joy than anything else, and we decide on a few to print as well. While the images are printed, she goes down the street to listen to her friend's band perform at the local music shop.

When the concert ends she stops by for the prints, and is so pleased to have them in her hands so quickly after the session. We bid each other goodnight and call our collaboration a success once again. I admire this young woman for her hard work ethic, her view on life and her willingness to give of herself for my project. She is a sister to the people in my portfolio, and much more.

For more of my work, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Monday, August 20, 2012

A brother named Baba, Humana People to People, Rajasthan, India, November 14, 2009

On this cloudy day we were forced to make portraits in a different manner. We arranged a bench in the front courtyard of the teacher's home, also the school for the neighborhood girls sponsored by Humana People to People in India. The entrance to the courtyard is to the left, and to the right is an open space just above the red, stone wall.

One by one the men sat on the bench for their pictures. For the most part their expressions were serious, every now and then breaking into a smile. This gentle man however was the exception, always in the mood for humor and leading the way as an example for the children all around us.

One would never know it by his demeanor in public, but he lives a most difficult life. He works incredibly hard for the foundation, and was the main person in charge of our collaborative efforts throughout my time in Rajasthan. He was always on time, and beyond dependable. He communicated to me without reservation even though his english skills were most basic. He was never afraid to use the wrong word, because he knew that his thoughts would translate in a most genuine manner regardless.

I should and will learn to speak his language, in light of the obvious fact that I am in his neighborhood.

During my time with Baba, he took me to his land one day. We sat down for a chat, and he displayed to me the plants/trees he had placed in cooperation with Humana People to People India. These were to be used in the future as fuel, and he was proud of the collaboration. What amazed me most was his vision, for he saw into the future when so many around him were understandably focused on the present.

On the land was a most basic structure that served as his home. His wife was present inside but was unable to visit with us due to her ailing health. In front of me was this man that needed to tend to his wife, needed to take care of his land, yet worked feverishly with Humana People to People in order to better his section of the Earth.

I am most proud to call this man my brother, and to acknowledge the meaning of his name. He is a father to me in India, and will always be thought of as such.

For more of my work, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mursi Boy, Decoration, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, February, 2010

Color film is always with me but old habits usually prevent me from using it. Every once in a while a roll is loaded and a few images are made. Even less frequently it is scanned and reviewed, usually put away for future reference.

This past week a few were scanned and the above image is an example from my visit to Ethiopia in 2010. People warned us about these villages and gave us the impression that photography in my style would be nearly impossible. We heard stories of villagers crowding the cars, at times rocking the vehicles until their demands were met.

The exact opposite was experienced. Sure they wanted to sell their goods in order to make a living. Then again show me one group on this planet doing otherwise. These good people made their own baskets, their own ornaments. They even had a sense of humor about it. The women would ask for my hand in order to show me an ornament. Then they would walk away, too far for me to give it back, asking for payment in return. They would however always take their product back, with the exception of the four purchased by me.

I admire this population greatly, for their lives are extremely difficult. The surroundings even for a few days were most difficult on us. Tourists were amongst them daily, yet they ignored the glitter and glamor that came along with the SUVs and the digital screens.

This young boy carried an ornament rather than the AK-47 that the adults seemed to enjoy. He stood on the bumper of our truck in order to allow us the sky as the background. His portrait was only made in color in light of the white beads present. He allowed me a few exposures and went along his way.

I hope to return and photograph the Mursi Community of the Lower Omo Valley in the near future.

For more of my work, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Camila y Leandro, Estadio Panamericano, Cuba, Morning of July 26, 2012

I receive a call the night before to confirm this morning's session, a reflection of the professionalism inherent in these two individuals. We arrive at their apartment before the sun is up and they are ready within ten minutes. Our destination is the main stadium of the 11th Pan American Games, a standing tribute to the games held in Havana, Cuba from August 2 to August 18, 1991.

The stadium is now silent with the exception of the few athletes living on the premise and practicing within its walls. The structure has deteriorated since its inception, yet holds a significance clearly felt when one stands within its shadows. 

As we pull up, the sun begins its ascent from the horizon. It is still quite early and the two dancers take a moment to get ready for their performance. They tell me that they have been working on a piece and would like to present it this morning for the camera. The larger camera will be used for the formal portraits and the smaller camera will be used for the motion sequences.

Camila has worked with us before, last year in front of this stadium and at my friend's home as well. She is a most genuine spirit and helps everyone feel comfortable even before we begin. Leandro is a most endearing man, and allows me to present requests without hesitation. They begin their performance as the sun rises, and continue for the next hour and a half. The temperature rises quickly yet they remain unaffected, never showing a sign of distress.

They move from one emotion to another seamlessly, and the simple concrete floor and white wall combination becomes their stage. They forget about the dirt, the small stones and the tiny pieces of glass here and there. We are treated to a performance before it has been presented formally to an audience. I cannot describe the feeling this morning, and will look forward to the images in six weeks.

All of us agree that the session has concluded at the same time, get into the car and head to a local stand for some juice. Pineapple is the choice this morning. 

For more of my work, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography

Friday, August 3, 2012

Señor Anache, Outskirts of Havana, Cuba, Morning of July 23, 2012

We arrive very early this morning after having missed the opportunity to photograph Señor Anache yesterday. Before the rest of the neighborhood wakes up and the street fills with children, we decide to make his portrait. He sits against a white wall and the sun strikes the building behind me, the reflection of the latter is clearly visible in his eyes.

The entire time he is gracious, as are his neighbors. When we ask for their portraits they give without resistance. My dear good friend Alejandro grew up in this neighborhood and his family lives on this street. Much of our time here is spent in his brother's home, drinking freshly made juice and talking about music.

We make images of Señor Anache with and without his shirt. He speaks of a lifetime devoted to his work and his family, and is as sharp as men half his age. At times he smiles openly, at times he is a little more reserved. Rather than being timid during his session, he glows with a sense of pride for all to see.

After our time with Señor Anache we begin photographing the girls in the neighborhood, giving them a little bit of time to get ready. We photograph three girls with indirect light, and then find some rest in the home of Alejandro's brother. This is a new neighborhood for me, and one to look forward to in the years to come.

For more of my work, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.

Halim Ina Photography