Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Ballerina, Pan American Stadium, La Habana, Cuba, July 14, 2012

Five years after we met she remains interested in this collaboration, and always agrees to be photographed. She was a lean girl when we first met in front of her dance studio, with perfect hair and a luminous smile. While she has retained these features, her presence has taken on a complexity to mirror her expressions in front of the lens.

Without children of my own, working with young girls has taught me many lessons... especially when the people around me take the time to share their thoughts with me. One such person is named Alejandro, and through our conversations I have come to appreciate Amanda's life and the lives of her equals on the island. Having children of his own and understanding the realities of life on the island provide my compassionate friend a view unavailable to me regardless of my numerous visits.

I remember one such conversation when it seemed to me that my work with this young woman might be coming to an end. We arrived one afternoon and were told by her mother that Amanda would be abstaining from the session. I of course accepted the explanation at face value and continued with my day, albeit a bit sad and confused.

I wondered, what has happened to this young woman? Have we done anything to displease her? Both questions were of course selfish and from my point of view. Alejandro stepped in as he would with one of his own children, with patience and an even voice. He talked about her life from his viewpoint, that she was making difficult transitions as a teenager and that her life at home was changing dramatically.

He helped me understand that tomorrow would be another day, and that we would come back to have another conversation. Both happened to come true, and the images above are examples of the strength of this young girl's character and confirmation of my admiration of her.

I hope that she will be available this summer, and that we'll make images even more magnificent. This I owe to her and to her family. Alejandro of course will be by my side, and we will have such conversations while driving around in his 1957 Chevrolet... grabbing ice cream on our way and perhaps a hamburger during our break.

He loves a good hamburger.
Halim Ina Photography

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