Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Manos de los Trabajadores, La Habana, Cuba, Julio, 2011

I walk up to two men and ask to photograph their hands, the hands of working men my purpose. As a gesture to augment my limited language skills, my hands are extended as an example. The first man thrusts forth his hands in the same manner and a few images are made. In spite of people walking by and the presence of tourists throughout the city, he spares time from his day to accommodate my request.

The next man sitting is asked for the same and refuses in a nice manner. For the sake of understanding I politely ask for his reason. Rather surprised I learn that he would allow the picture but would rather put his hands in a different position. He explains to me that there are those whose preconceptions would affect their interpretation of the image, seeing the palms up as a sign of asking or begging for something, rather than the hands of a working man.

I am touched deeply by his explanation and by his willingness to continue with the photography despite my lack of vision. He puts his forearms on his knees and places his hands in a most gentle fashion in front of my camera.  We exchange a few words while photographing, shake hands and then part ways.

In one instant I was taught an incredible lesson, one that I will never forget. Here were two men, friends sitting on the same ledge, with much in common yet an entirely different way of looking at a similar request. I am humbled by the countless workers that make up our societies, real heroes willing to go unnoticed for the sake of their families and require nothing more than serenity for their children.

These are the hands that I would place my life in should that time ever come.

Halim Ina Photography

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