Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Young Girl, Neighborhood outside of La Habana, Cuba, July 22, 2012

My earlier work on the island was more spontaneous by need, and led to the circle of families now the focus of my photography. We would walk up and down the streets like surveyors and isolate certain individuals for portraits. The parents would of course be included and we would return to these families the following year with prints as gratitude.

Over the years the number of families within the circle lessened and allowed me to concentrate on each family more so. My relationships with each family deepened and this has manifested itself within the body of images. A deep sense of satisfaction has brought me back to this island almost every year since my first visit, and twice during one summer.

Nonetheless I have come to miss the spontaneity of walking up and down the streets and welcomed the chance to visit a new neighborhood when Alejandro offered to do so. He told me about his family's neighborhood and advised that it was both full of life and also intimate. When we arrived early one morning it was clear to me that both descriptions were perfectly true. Older men sat outside of their homes working on various projects, yet the foot traffic was low enough to allow personal conversations to be had right on the spot.

This young girl lived to the left of my friend's home, and caught my attention immediately after seeing her face. She was playing with her friends and all were curious about the stranger visiting their neighborhood. Tourists were rare in this area, since it was well out of the way for most. She lived with her parents and grandmother, and was an only child.

From my initial observations, she is a most fierce, young girl. The intensity of her emotions was clearly evident in her reactions to the world around her. For instance, when provoked by one of her cousins after the photography, joking about her involvement, she reacted by putting her cousin in place verbally and physically. Quite honestly I was shocked at the intensity of her reaction, but also understood it at the same time.

Then when I arrived the next day to deliver the photographs from the previous evening, I was equally shocked at her reaction to my presence. She ran down the street, was only slowed down by running into my arms and hugged me with the strength of a grown man. At this instance I fell in love with this young girl, and came to appreciate her reactions in either direction.

While everyone around me advised that she rarely let her guard down, she immediately did so in front of the lens with the slightest of coaxing. The image above shows a more tender side, and to me her real personality. For the image above I owe everything to her and am honored beyond words to have achieved this level of communication through her kindness.

I do look forward to visiting with her family in July and to moving around more so through this new neighborhood. It promises to be incredibly rewarding.

Halim Ina Photography

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