Sunday, December 29, 2013

Girl + Student, Nirvanavan Foundation, Slum, Alwar, Rajasthan, November, 2013

While in Rajasthan I was fortunate enough to once again visit the good works of Nirvanavan Foundation through my dear friend, Nirvana Bodhisattva. We began with a school located in one of the many slums of Alwar, a school visited four years ago as well.

The classroom has since been moved to a beautifully decorated building, and now classes are being held indoor as well as outside next to the small temple. Two teachers are responsible for this small school, and their enthusiasm is consistent with the team on a whole, a testament to the leadership as well as to the volunteers working daily to improve the lives of their comrades.

I remember this little girl from many years ago, as she sat for her portrait on the ledge of that first school. She was so tiny then, but her eyes have always had this incredible presence in front of the lens. This morning we sat down for some informal portraits in the classroom, with light coming into the room from a window to her left. She was barely able to hide her excitement, her happiness. This is what drives the work, this is the purpose behind the images.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Girl + Refugee, Sectarian Violence, Uttar Pradesh, India, December 1, 2013

In the midst difficulty this young girl holds her head up high and does so for a complete stranger. The last part never ceases to amaze me every single time we enter a community for the first time. This was especially true in the refugee camps of Uttar Pradesh, where almost 100,000 people lived in 25 camps scattered along the countryside.

We would just step out of the car, set up the tripod as instructed and select as to whom we would photograph first. In the mornings we would photograph the girls first, then the boys. In the afternoon it was the opposite, allowing the most perfect light to be used for the girls.

So it was for six days in the camps, and girls who had never seen a man from outside of India in this area walked up to the camera and offered themselves without hesitation. Perhaps this was the bottle into which they were placing their messages, perhaps it was just an escape from the tortuous, daily routine of survival… I will never know but am deeply honored to have been the recipient of their courage.
Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Boy + Student, Kanjar Community, Nirvanavan Foundation, Alwar, Rajasthan, India, November, 2013

I remember a conversation with Nirvana years ago as the men from these villages approached to have their portraits made. Photographing the girls was an easy task, for they in my mind were the victims of the profession in these communities, the trade of sex. The unease I felt in photographing the boys and men was put aside as Nirvana explained his thoughts to me: that we need to provide education to both the girls and boys, for they are both victims of this practice.

In this portrait stands one boy from this community, in front of the school administered by Nirvanavan Foundation. Artwork from the students is hung behind him, and he shines in front of the camera. My hope is that this young boy holds the future for the men in these communities, and that the thought of selling their daughters, sisters and nieces to strangers will fade away within his generation.

One may find more information through my website below, and a link to the foundation as well as a gallery of images for sale. Through the purchase of an image these schools can be funded, with 100% of the sale going to the foundation.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Girl + Refugee, Uttar Pradesh, India, December 1, 2013

Today was spent driving past frenzied shoppers looking for that last minute item for their loved ones. Walking from one aisle to another, my eyes glazed over as all of the products suddenly looked the same. My mind was unable to help itself, and felt a bit disconnected from the scene, as an out of body experience is often described.

My thoughts wandered to this little girl, living in a refugee camp hundreds of miles away from her devastated village. She was almost passed up as the organizers of our session presented the children to us for photography. Perhaps they thought we wanted something else, when all we wanted was the truth.

This little girl walked up to her spot in front of the lens and stared back at the camera without hesitation. She looked right at the camera, never looking to her friends for assistance. She was little more than two or three years old perhaps, but was able to hold her ground effortlessly. We exposed four or so frames and then she walked away.

Her hair was as course as steel wool, while her face was covered with various layers of dirt and dust, giving her hues ranging from red to yellow to brown.

What has she seen in her young life? What was going through her mind at this very moment?

I will never know, but am obliged to share her image with the larger public. My hope is that others will be affected by her expression and perhaps move forward in the relations between the various factions, rather than allowing fissures to progress to fractures.
Halim Ina Photography

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dancer + Statues, Pan American Stadium, Havana, Cuba, August 17, 2013

We picked another pair of statues for this year's session at the Pan American Stadium just outside of the capital. My last morning on the island was spent with her, as was the case last year. On both occasions the sun came up without obstruction and we had all morning to ourselves. 

She is without equal in my work, and gives completely of herself every single time. The sound of the shutter is her cue to move to another position, always maintaining her concentration while atthe same time pursuing a line of creativity rarely seen in others. She is barely a teenager, and yet performs for over an hour without rest and without the need for the company of others.

This past year on the island was a difficult one for a few reasons, and she wondered as to my thoughts regarding this collaboration. My answer was quite simple: With whom have I worked the most this year, and last year? For whom have the most negatives been exposed over the past two years?

She knew the answers, smiled and listened in silence, while a sense of calm came over her. She is reason enough for my visits to the island, in this she has confidence.
Halim Ina Photography

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Girl + Student, Humana People to People India, Near Virat Nagar, Rajasthan, India, November 3, 2013

She is the third daughter of a friend living just outside of Virat Nagar, Rajasthan. Her mother allows her home to be used as a meeting place for the micro-finance chapter in her village.Humana People to People India works with women in her village to supply small loans, resulting in many women being able to increase their families' incomes while increasing a sense of independence as well.

This image was made on our second day, just twelve or so hours after we met the previous evening. We were allowed to come back and make better portraits, since our first session was barely a session due to the setting sun. We arrived before the sun as visible, were served wonderful tea and then welcomed to the roof of the house for an incredible session.

All three sisters were ready and allowed me an entire hour for their portraits. We played with headscarves, expressions and body positions with complete freedom. The joy with which these beautiful spirits approached the photography was exhilarating, and makes me look forward to the film images even more so.
Halim Ina Photography

Girl + Ragpicker, Humana People to People India, Gurgaon, India, November 22, 2013

Once again a young girl helping her family make a living while sorting through trash is presented here. In collaboration withHumana People to People India these images were made, near the high-rises of Gurgaon, 'the most prosperous city in India based on ownership of consumer durables.' A description of this city is included 

The cruelty of this contrast is visible to all those visiting the area. Fancy shopping areas stand next to dilapidated neighborhoods, and small children constantly walk between cars with balloons in their hands for sale. Enormous signs highlighting the names of countless multi-national corporations sit atop gleaming buildings, while people sleep beneath a newly constructed freeway cutting through the city.

This young girl lives in between piles of garbage, and her hands testify to the hardness of the life lived. With the guidance of the foundation and two corporations, Dell and Nokia, two centers and a few satellites provide a quality education to these very children, augmented by wonderful computer rooms as well. The hope is that these centers can be a source of opportunity for this population, and that the sharp blade of cruelty most visible can be blunted more so.

According to Wikipedia:

'Gurgaon is a city situated in the National Capital Region near the Indian capital New Delhi in the state of Haryana. Located 32 km south-west of New Delhi, Gurgaon has a population of 876,824. Witnessing rapid urbanization, Gurgaon has become the city with the third highest per capita income in India, even though the city grapples with the problem of lack of proper infrastructure and utilities, frequent power outages and rising crime. As of 2013, about 250 Fortune 500 companies have a base in Gurgaon.'
Halim Ina Photography

Girl + Refugee, Sectarian Violence, Uttar Pradesh, India, November, 2013

On an isolated field next to our host's village she lives with her family. This land has been signed over to the villagers permanently so as to allow them to build more sturdy homes. During our visit alone a half dozen homes were constructed, and a gravel road was laid by the village for this community.

We arrived early in the morning after a good night's rest, and were greeted by an incredible group of people. They had lost so much most recently yet were more than willing to share their stories with us, allowed us to photograph their children. Only under such circumstances were we able to begin our photography with the girls, and we had the cooperation of more than a few men as they proceeded to organize the girls for us.

One man acted as our stylist, and took care to prepare each girl for her portrait. Two other men made sure that all other men were placed at a distance so as to allow the girls to be more comfortable in front of the camera. The background was so serene, almost making me forget the circumstances under which these girls lived.

We are now seeking the proper news agencies to which this work can be presented, as well as an interview video highlighting twenty or so stories from the time of the violence. Any thoughts on this matter would be most appreciated.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Girl + Ragpicker, Humana People to People India, Gurgaon, Haryana, India, November 22, 2013

The common term used to describe her profession is 'ragpicker,' although she is anything but common in my eyes. Her community lives in Gurgaon but originates from West Bengal. They live in a shantytown just a few minutes away from some of the richest communities of India. The children survive day to day by collecting and then sorting to perfection the garbage nearby.

When one drives on the roads to her location, the eyes are inundated with the propaganda on huge billboards, commercials using the language of colonialism and the familiar vision of a futuristic, utopian society. The names of the colonies being built just adjacent to her home would make Orson Welles turn incessantly in his grave, yet they are placed above her little frame for all to see.

The contrasts are incredibly cruel, yet this is her reality. Humana People to People India operates an Academy for Working Children in collaboration with Dell and Nokia. The facilities are wonderfully clean and well equipped, providing a chance at an education otherwise unavailable to her and her friends.
Halim Ina Photography

Friday, December 13, 2013

Claudia, Pan American Stadium, La Habana, Cuba, August 16, 2013

...and here Claudia is from this past July, impossibly more beautiful and deeply motivated to continue with this project. Our time together this past summer was much more limited, yet we talked more than at any time in the past. On our last afternoon together her mother and my friend sat by the car and allowed us to chat a bit while waiting for the sun.

Her usually shy demeanor gave way to a new confidence as she shared with me her happiness with the work, her desire to produce a book of her teenage years and her hope that others from around the world will learn about her story.

I plan to pursue all of the above with her in 2014 and cannot wait to see what she has in store for my camera in seven months. If this portrait is a hint of what is to come, the excitement is already too much.
Halim Ina Photography

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Girl + Refugee, Uttar Pradesh, India, November, 2013

Next to our host's village sits a small community of refugees from the recent conflicts in Uttar Pradesh, India. The land has been provided to them by our host, temporarily and soon to be permanent.

We arrived early in the morning and immediately set up the camera next to this beautiful pond. The girls were given the opportunity to go first and without much hesitation they did so, in spite of the dozens of men gathered to watch. We did our best to remove anyone from the girls' direct line of view, nonetheless onlookers came by the dozens as usual.

The homes constructed at this time are made of simple wooden structures and plastic sheets. Just in the time we were there four such structures were put up right behind this pond alone. The children of the camp live a precarious life, on the outskirts of the village, and do their best to help their parents with the day to day.

Our hosts for example have provided their home as a place for one family to sell vegetables, and one girl arrives early every morning to do so. She sweeps the floor from the previous day's activity and sets up her temporary stand so neatly. The villagers do their best to buy from her in order to support the family. This was all done without placing too much attention on the self, an incredible set of circumstances to witness.
Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Four Students + New School, Humana People to People India, Kedha Village, Rajasthan, India, December 4, 2013

Living in a village in Rajasthan, this young girl now has the opportunity to attend classes offered by Humana People to People India. The proceeds from the benefits held this summer at Artistic Muse Gallery and the Cleveland Print Room have resulted in the opening of seven schools for girls in Haryana and Rajasthan. We thought four schools, Humana People to People India were more than generous and offered more for the funds raised. So now she has a chance to sit next to her sisters and catch up to those already in school.

Like the other girls in this post, she also lives in the same village named Kedha. The majority of villagers are farmers and the days are spent ensuring the health of the crops and sustenance for the children.

She used to attend classes three years ago and has been photographed by me several times over a few years. Her teacher is also her cousin, and she has returned to the school with an eagerness than would make teachers stateside deeply satisfied. She is a little older than the other students but this means very little to her. I am both proud and humbled by her strength, and am quite content with the chances provided me for her portrait this year.

The portrait below was made this past Wednesday, on my last day of photography. As a matter of fact, her portrait was the last of the trip. A higher speed film was used (T-Max 400) as the sun was low, and the images are very much anticipated as her eyes gleamed along with her smile with the setting sun. She inspires me.

These two students also look forward to their first day of class tomorrow. They stand on the roof of their teacher's home, which is actually their classroom now. It is both private and extremely beautiful, with the kitchen at their feet. There is little noise outside of the birds chirping in the trees surrounding the rooftop.

This school closed in 2010 but these students were never forgotten in my work. The good leaders at Humana People to People India listened to my request to reopen the schools in the area and acted on it even though doing so involved a list of complications. The people of the village, rather than having a bitter taste in their collective mouth due to the closing, greeted us with open arms. This reaction was a breath of fresh air for me as well as the foundation, and more than twenty girls were gathered for classes in less than one week. The previous teacher quit her post in the local private school and accepted this position gladly, and has always had my deepest admiration.

I wish them nothing but the best and look forward to seeing the progress made on my next visit.
Halim Ina Photography

Friday, December 6, 2013

Girl + Refugee, Uttar Pradesh, India, December 1, 2013

On this morning we visited a small camp located near Kairana, Uttar Pradesh. An interesting description of this place is included below, and is in line with my observations of the area. There is something quite peaceful, serene regarding the landscape… yet the places of our visits were reminders that even such serenity can be disturbed by the hand of Man.

Most recently violence has erupted in Uttar Pradesh, forcing this young girl and her community to find shelter elsewhere. The villagers in this region have given their land to the refugees, have allowed them to build temporary structures and have also permanently signed over certain pieces of land over to the families for permanent homes.

Government action is nonexistent, but good people from all over the country are doing their best to ease the suffering and pain. Toilets have been built, quilts have been provided, building materials have been shared and most importantly a warm welcome has been extended.

I hope that such tensions ease and that this young girl can return to her home one day.

According to Wikipedia:

During the Medieval period, Mughal Emperor Jahangir visited this place and has given a vibrant description in his autobiography, Tuzuk-e-jahangiri.
The Emperor said, "On Sunday, the 16th, I marched from Delhi, and on Friday, the 21st, halted in the pargana of Kairana. This pargana is the native place of Muqarrab Khan. Its climate is equable and its soil good. Muqarrab made buildings and gardens there. As I had often heard praise of his garden, I wished much to see it. On Saturday, the 22nd, I and my ladies were much pleased in going around it. Truly, it is a very fine and enjoyable garden. Within a masonry (pukhta, pucca) wall, flowerbeds have been laid out to the extent of 140 bighas. In the middle of the garden, he has constructed a pond, in length 220 yards, and in breadth 200 yards. In the middle of the pond is a miih-tiib terrace (for use in moonlight) 22 yards square. There is no kind of tree belonging to a warm or cold climate that is not to be found in it. Of fruit-bearing trees belonging to Persia, I saw green pistachio trees and cypresses of graceful form, such as I have never seen before. I ordered the cypresses to be counted, and they came to 300. All round the pond, suitable buildings have been begun and are in progress."
Halim Ina Photography

Friday, November 22, 2013

Girl + Student, Collection + Sorting of Garbage, Humana People to People India, Gurgaon, India, November 22, 2013

Her life is spent collecting garbage from the surrounding area, then sorting it in order to support her family. The entire community lives in tents on the edge of town, on land that is someone else's without water nor electricity. Under the shadow of the skyscrapers housing the world's elite corporations she exists, yet her spirit remains true.

Through a collaboration between Humana People to People India and Nokia she attends classes for a few hours per day, and has gained skills to perhaps one day allow her a chance at changing her future as well as that of her family.

We visited her camp today and made portraits for her and her friends. The most incredible thing is that we just arrived, set up the tripod and began calling girls to the front of the lens for their portraits… and they responded with kindness and open hearts. The children, it is always the children, with this reaction rather than anything else… and they are the reason my work exists.
Halim Ina Photography

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Girl + Student, Nirvanavan Foundation, Village near Alwar, Rajasthan, November 16, 2013

She walks miles to this classroom every day along with children from the surrounding villages. Lines of children walk with determination and need very little external motivation. They sit most attentively for their lessons, and the level of respect shown to their teachers is palpable even from a distance.

Two days were spent photographing the students at Advaita Garden, the main school of Nirvanavan Foundation. Over 250 students from five villages attend this exquisite school and benefit from a most dedicated group of people. On any day one can find artists from around the world visiting the premises and sharing their vision with the students for example. 

The students drawings hang all around her in this classroom alone, while livestock is kept on the premise to supply the children with milk and the guests with Indian style tea. A wonderful cook attends to the kitchen and others take on tasks such as planting trees, carrying for the livestock and the transportation of the many guests visiting the site.

I have visited this space since 2007 and have been deeply impressed with the progress made each year. I look forward to this year's work with them, and to the images resulting from our collaboration. The hope is that the images will raise awareness and funding for three hostels planned for 2014.
Halim Ina Photography

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Former Student, Humana People to People, Chota, Rajasthan, India, November, 2013

Here she is in color this time, comfortable enough to share her smile with us. Our visit to her village was for her and two of her friends, and word was delivered to all three that we were waiting for them in the village. 

While waiting for her I decided to make some detailed images of the house. During one exposure I heard some commotion and turned to see her running into the inner courtyard, clearly short of breath from the long sprint from the field in which she was digging ditches for the afternoon.

She looked radiant and overjoyed that we had returned just for her. The images were easy to make and the smile below is just one example of such.
Halim Ina Photography

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sisters + Students, Humana People to People, Rajasthan, India, November 12, 2013

The evening before was spent with these sisters and their friends from the village. This photograph was made in the courtyard of their previous school, with the invaluable help of their former teacher. The older sister has known me since 2006, and remembers the story she once told me years ago as we were about to leave for the day, right in front of this courtyard.

The story goes something like this: Before the school for girls in her village, she used to take very little care of herself, work twelve or more hours per day and have little motivation for anything more than the day to day. With the introduction of the school she began to take care of herself more so, wash her hair and take joy in the few hours of education provided to her with the permission of her parents. Now her sister attends school and is following in her footsteps.

I remember this story like it was yesterday, her expression of hope and her resilience… to this day it is evident.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Girl, Banjara Community, Rajasthan, India, November 11, 2013

Over and over again these girls impress me, how they are approached spontaneously and yet they are able to stand in front of dozens of people, mostly men, while providing expressions rarely seen in their own community.

This morning a little woman stepped in front of the lens in a small Community of Banjara. While the older girls found it nearly impossible to do so, she acted without fear. A roll of medium format film was changed yet her fierceness never waivered during the wait. Boys ran all around her, and men showed their disapproval at times, yet she stood her ground.

As the hour of photography passed the men became even more anxious, they wanted their own time… this even after just twenty or so minutes of photography. This almost amazes me as much as her fierceness in that the former never changes, men always want their time even though the photography is designed for the younger members of their community. The children obviously are enjoying themselves, yet the men find it in themselves to put this joy at risk by pushing their own agendas.

While standing for the girls has its own risks, to this day I try to maintain the session for the girls until all are photographed, then move onto the men albeit in a less enthusiastic manner internally. The fact that a smaller, faster camera is being used, added to the color of the images, seems to do the trick most of the time. This time I'm just happy that six girls were photographed before the rush of men overtook the session.

Tomorrow a wedding takes place and I may accept their invitation to attend. Hopefully I'll be able to make it, and see her under different circumstances.
Halim Ina Photography

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Elderly Man, Humana People to People India, Khala Kidhani, Rajasthan, India, November 6, 2013

We saw this man sitting together with a few other men having a traditional smoke and knew instantly he needed to be photographed. We visited his village at the end of the day to explore the possibilities photographically for the next morning, and were pleasantly surprised when they allowed the photography of their daughters. This morning we photographed all of the girls first, and then photographed this man at the end… an incredible presence!

The night before I was concerned that perhaps he might be missing the next day, but he happened to be the only man from the group the evening before to be present as we arrived. At first he declined the portrait and like so many times my interpreters were nudged a bit by me to ask kindly once again. He did accept graciously and gave much more of his time than asked.

There was a moment when one of the young boys laughed inappropriately, and the elderly man took offense and almost left his seat to head back to his spot. He then noticed my dismay at the young man's insensitivity and decided to give my camera one more chance. The sun was soft yet strong enough to allow another roll, and more intimate images were made regarding distance such as the image above.

It never ceases to amaze me how young boys, and at times young men, take it upon themselves to disrespect the courageous spirits standing in front of my lens. Whether this happens to be young girls in Cuba or older men in India, it's always the same: attention is being given to someone other than them.

I have been fortunate to have had wonderful subjects, people with a deep understanding of their own surroundings. They are the ones to rise above the remarks and concentrate on the lens in front of them, to use that lens as a tunnel through which to communicate with the viewers when that time comes. Each time this happens I am breathless, and deeply appreciative.
Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Brother Netram, Virat Nagar, Rajasthan, Eve of Diwali, November 2, 2013

I have known this gentle man since my arrival in Rajasthan over six years ago. He lives in this small room and produces exquisite furniture made of fine rope twisted around wooden frames. He wakes up early in the morning and tends to his spiritual responsibilities, then goes about his duties in a most diligent manner.

He is both precise and devoted, and has been my friend since the day we met. Last night he read the lines on my hands, and gave me hope that the original schools will one day reopen as well as the schools now scheduled to open.

Here he sat on one of his benches, on the eve of Diwali. A few minutes after this image was made we took a walk into the market and had some sweet treats, and spent the night talking.

The next day he showed me a beautiful temple he had constructed for the Diwali celebration, while flowers hung from ceiling of the entrances to the hallway and to the room. I admire this man, and am proud of our brotherhood.
Halim Ina Photography

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Boy + Cap, Humana People to People India, Virat Nagar, Rajasthan, India, October 29, 2013

When we arrived in Virat Nagar, the good people of Humana People to People India made it possible for me to set out first thing in the morning. We walked through the city streets in search of that next face and found one in this little boy. We had stopped for a few women but were surrounded by boys and men, deciding to take advantage of the multitude of faces rather than the few women.

As with almost all situations in my experiences with rural India, boys take center stage once they see me and my camera. On this morning it was advantageous, they were quite charming and beautiful actually. This young boy was almost the last to be photographed, preferring to stay behind at least one older boy in the crowd the entire time.

The space was a small lot just off of the main road, and perhaps around 30 people had gathered to witness the proceedings. One advantage with photographing boys is that the crowd does little to affect the subject's demeanor, in contrast to when a young girl is photographed in front of the same, mostly male crowd. So this young boy was quite comfortable in front of the camera and also in front of a few dozen people.

Tomorrow I leave for Behror and then Alwar on single day visits to friends. Photography will be quite limited, but then again the camera will be ready in case someone with such a face decides to show up in front of my camera.
Halim Ina Photography

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Face + Hands, Elder, Humana People to People India, Virat Nagar, Rajasthan, India, October 30, 2013

We were almost finished for the morning, the desire to return was building up on the people around me. However the young, local boy alongside me pushed to go up one more street. We did and ran into this older gentleman sitting on the corner of a wide open street.

The team walked past him and continued up the street, while I was enthralled with his features and styling. I asked my team to gain his permission, and with the help of another local man we were granted permission. He was hard of hearing, and has lost sight in one of his eyes. The people around us were most helpful, and guided him to the other corner of the street to be photographed with direct sunlight.

He was beyond great, allowed me to also photograph his hands, both with film and with a digital format. He was so patient, while those around us wondered for limitless reasons regarding our intention and purpose.

After we were finished, I had the privilege of shaking this man's hands… and in gaining his trust for the portraits made this morning. I cannot wait to see the negatives, but will settle for the digital image above as a preview.
Halim Ina Photography

Monday, October 28, 2013

Young Student, Schools for Girls, Humana People to People India, Mewat District, Haryana, India, October 28, 2013

This is my first time in the villages of Mewat District through my photography. The children are absolutely beautiful, both boys and girls. While I have become accustomed to walking into new scenes, doing such on so many different variables is extremely exciting.

In the beginning it seemed inaccessible, but with the guidance of a few young men from the village as well as the good people of Humana People to People India, all fell into place as the first girls agreed to their portraits with extreme ease. They stepped up onto a landing in front of a closed storefront and waited for the camera to be set up. They then allowed me to photograph them in front of two or so dozen people from their own village, mostly boys and men. The courage of young girls such as this one above never ceases to amaze me, and they offer of themselves like someone placing a message into a bottle for the world to witness in the future.

Just a few hours after this was posted, a dear sister named Tracey shared her kind words:

This beautifully modest young lade sends a silent yet emphatically powerful message. She knows something the world does not yet know. Her smile and brilliant gaze gracefully and unmistakably command attention from the world to understand her clandestine message. She is strong, she is courageous, she is very intelligent. SHE and her fellow sisters of Mewat are resolute, THEY ARE THE FUTURE that brings more light into this world. Her message in the bottle has arrived and is understood.

Humana People to People India has arranged for two schools in this large village, and we can only hope that this young girl and her sisters will find their places within these schools. It's a beginning only but the collaboration holds great promise.
Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Three Men, Humana People to People India, Mewat District, India, October 27, 2013

First contact with the new villages was made earlier this afternoon, and we sat down with the elders to gain permission for the photography of their girls. Quite surprisingly they were more than willing to have their portraits made and we started the collaboration on a great note.

Prior to this moment everyone told me this: the new villages promise to be most conservative, perhaps even resistant to both the projects and the photography. This is new territory in my collaboration with Humana People to People India, a predominantly Islamic population in a rural setting. However, all walls disappeared as the clumsy camera was removed from the bag and mounted onto the tripod. Curiosity displaced resistance as usual and all eyes were on this man, the one with the long beard!

Tomorrow morning we return to this village and give the girls their chance in front of the lens… the faces were just out of this world as we walked through the two villages this afternoon!
Halim Ina Photography

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Willys, Emblem, La Habana, Cuba, July 31, 2013

In the past we'd just end the photography when clouds approached, perhaps go home early. This year the approach was different and thus opened up an entirely new arena of images for me. Rather than putting the camera down, we saw the approaching clouds as an opportunity to use subdued, natural light for images of car emblems.

My dear friend Alejandro knew all of the drivers since he himself owns a 1954 Chevrolet, red with a white top. We approached only cars in original condition, at least regarding the emblems and aesthetics. Most of the gasoline engines had been replaced with diesel engines a long time ago, and parts were of course hard to come by regarding maintaining originality.

As advised by Alejandro, almost all of the replacement parts were manufactured on the island, from the hand-carved door handles to the glass windshields. All of the owners had a sincere sense of pride when our camera was set up to photograph their cars. Just like their brethren up north, a serious car culture exists among them.

The image above is of a Willys emblem, one that impressed Alejandro very much. We had seen it a few times before but his friend always needed to carry his passengers elsewhere in a hurry. This time the car was sitting for a few minutes and we took this chance to document its character.

According to Wikipedia:

Willys was the brand name used by Willys-Overland Motors, an American automobile company best known for its design and production of military Jeeps (MBs) and civilian versions (CJs) during the 20th century.
In 1908, John Willys bought the Overland Automotive Division of Standard Wheel Company and in 1912 renamed it Willys-Overland Motor Company. From 1912 to 1918, Willys was the second largest producer of automobiles in the United States after Ford Motor Company.
In 1913, Willys acquired a license to build the Charles Knight's sleeve-valve engine which it used in cars bearing the Willys-Knight nameplate. In the mid-1920s, Willys also acquired the F.B. Stearns Company of Cleveland, Ohio and assumed continued production of the Stearns-Knight luxury car as well.
John Willys acquired the Electric Auto-Lite Company in 1914 and in 1917 formed the Willys Corporation to act as his holding company. In 1916, it acquired the Russell Motor Car Company of TorontoOntarioCanada, by 1917 New Process Gear, and in 1919 acquired the Duesenberg Motors Company plant inElizabeth, New Jersey. The New Jersey plant was replaced by a new, larger facility and was to be the site of production for a new Willys Six, but the 1920 recession brought the Willys Corporation to its knees. The bankers hired Walter P. Chrysler to sort out the mess and the first model to go was the Willys Six, deemed an engineering disaster. Chrysler had auto engineers Owen Skelton, Carl Breer and Fred Zeder begin work on a new car, the Chrysler Six.
In 1917 Ward M. Canaday, who had been doing advertising for the company, became a full-time employee.
In order to raise cash needed to pay off debts, all of the Willys Corporation assets were on the auction block. The Elizabeth plant and the Chrysler Six prototype were sold to William C. Durant, then in the process of building a new, third empire. The plant built Durant's low priced Star, while the Chrysler Six prototype was improved and modified, becoming the 1923 Flint.
Walter Chrysler moved on to Maxwell-Chalmers, where in January 1924 he launched his own version of the six-cylinder Chrysler he had been working on, based partly on elements developed at Willys. (In 1925 the Maxwell car company became the Chrysler Corporation.)
Halim Ina Photography

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dancer + Hands, La Habana del Este, Cuba, August 5, 2013

Many times it is better to include words of another to describe one's work, and here is one such example:

'WOW! I see such exquisite images of birds dancing. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!!! Great work from both of you! It never ceases to amaze me the beauty you present!'

'This is a universal message the world can see and understand regarding the internal beauty and humanity this woman can express without a word spoken. No English needed, universal beautiful humanity...... I'm hypnotized.'

These are the words of Tracey McDaniel, and impressed me deeply this evening. Upon reading them I asked if they could be used in this entry, and she responded with total enthusiasm. I am proud to know her and her daughter, and look forward to photographing her entire family one day soon.
Halim Ina Photography

Amber + Polaroid, Rooftop, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 2013

This image was made from our second session together, and more will be shared when the film is processed. As we were leaving the rooftop I decided to make two Polaroid exposures. The above is of Amber of course, and the second was made of me by Amber.

The sun was even more perfect on this day, and I cannot wait to receive the images.
Halim Ina Photography

Amber + Hands + Ring, Rooftop, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 2013

We met a few months ago in passing at the Algebra Teahouse, and then walked separate paths until just a few weeks ago. When returning to the same spot after my time in Cuba for a warm meal, Amber remembered me as a photographer and we struck up a conversation.

A few minutes later the meal was served with the kindest of smiles, and it was then that I knew we were going to collaborate. The food was incredible, but the conversation was even sweeter. We talked with others in our company, and then planned to meet a morning for a session.

One arranged morning clouds appeared and we rescheduled. The next morning some clouds were on the horizon but we decided to meet anyway at a local spot. We met with two of her friends, and had something to drink early. As we were talking the sun peered through the clouds and we decided to take a chance. We walked over to my building and quickly arranged the rooftop for our photography.

The sun was still pretty high, but Amber did wonderfully placing her features so as to minimize the shadows cast. Then I noticed her hands and asked to photograph them. She accepted and we did so for one roll of film. When asked about the ring on her finger, she produced a beautiful smile and told me its story. It made the images even more striking, and memorable.

I look forward to a lifetime of such images with Amber and to recording her voice when she is ready to share it with the girls in my portfolio.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Anais + Beach, La Habana del Este, Cuba, August 5, 2013

Just last night I spoke with her Mother and her Brother, a bit surreal considering that most from my work seem worlds away until I visit them. We talked for ten minutes, I heard her voice in the background and was content just to know that they were thinking of our collaboration even in my absence.

Here she is in the water with her full ballet outfit, giving it her all like the truest of professionals. This young girl never quits, and always puts herself second to the work... has my sincerest respect and appreciation. She is quite aware that the work is second to her in my mind, but gives 110% regardless. I love and admire her.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Claudia x 4, Roll 6, La Habana del Este, Cuba, July 27, 2012

In this film strip Claudia shows all of us a glimpse of her spirit. Perhaps over sixty rolls of 120 film have been exposed of her since we met three years ago and in none of the frames does she present the same expression, as seen from this series. In the hot and humid afternoon she gives of herself and still has more to give until the sun disappears, outlasting both the sun and my supply of film for that day.

We met while looking for her sister from the previous year. She walked into the living room of her cousin's house when she heard of two strangers visiting. I still remember the expression on her face and how it turned from responding to the mundane to full joy, albeit a reserved form. She was quiet them and remains quiet to this day, choosing to express herself through the image rather than through the spoken word.

This past year, towards the end of my visit however, she reached out and spoke volumes. She did so in the back seat of Alejandro's 1954 Chevrolet and with me as we waited for the sun one afternoon. To be able to understand her thoughts in her language is a blessing beyond description. All of those hours listening to Spanish lessons in my car on the way to work simply faded away and her voice filled the entire space.

I hope that this year's images are as striking and look forward to a much deeper collaboration next summer.


Note: This series was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Anais, Dancer + Sister, Pan American Stadium, Alamar, Cuba, July 28, 2012

You give her a chance and she expresses herself! 

Once again we're at the Pan American Stadium just outside the capital, a place that has become her own. She has the ability to work alone with me and at such a tender age. She needs very little direction and works with adults four times her age without ever making us feel any different.

We started working on the other side of the stadium against the plain white wall and were taken to this side by her creativity. She saw these statues and immediately was drawn to them. She balanced herself on top of them, struck poses next to them and became part of their world.

She takes me out of my shell and puts me in a more creative environment. Five years we have collaborated and with each passing year she grows by a lifetime. I admire and love this young girl, she is without equal. 

This was my last day in Cuba in 2012 and my last rolls of film were exposed on her behalf, fitting and appropriate.
Halim Ina Photography