Monday, September 1, 2014

Young Girl + House, Matanzas Province, Cuba, August of 2014

Most of our afternoons on the island were filled with clouds, so we decided to scour the countryside for faces, leaving the cloudy city behind us. On our way back one afternoon the road was void of people, so we made a right turn hoping for something different. A man with his small cart happened to be on the right side of the narrow road, so we stopped for some vegetables and his portrait. We asked him about his neighborhood, bought some avocado and went our way up the road toward his home.

On the right hand side in the middle of the village appeared more carts filled with vegetables and fruits. Behind the line of carts a dozen or so boys were playing soccer in front of a forgotten, yet beautiful building. I decided to get out and photograph the structure, from the middle of the field as the children allowed me to do. When we finished we packed up and started down the road. As we turned up the road away from the field this little girl crossed the road toward the field. I was stunned by her features and let this lapse in judgement get the better of me, maintaining my eyes on her for more than a few seconds. She took it quite well actually, and returned a glance of incredible strength and curiosity my way.

This was enough for me, and we stopped in our path to go after her. We parked once again next to the field and asked an older man about her. He told us her name, and that her father was at work. I asked him if he was sure, and he told me that he knew everyone in the village, and that he was certain. He however offered to take us up the road to her home, to perhaps ask her neighbors for some guidance. We did so and were quite lucky in that the neighbors were more than happy to help. They told us that we had their permission to photograph their children, and that her father would be more than happy to have her picture as well.

We had less than thirty minutes in which to work, and set up quickly. She was the first to be photographed, and took my breath away. She seemed more than comfortable in front of the lens, her expressions were simply flawless. I was unable to believe that this young girl could be so powerful, so spontaneously. We photographed for the next twenty minutes, talked with the families for thirty minutes more, then packed up our bags and headed back to the city one and a half hours away in the dark.

All above us was a sky filled with bright stars, yet for me the brightest of them all was preparing to sleep in the home pictured below. What makes her even more incredible is that she lives alone with her father, keeps herself entertained during the day in the neighborhood, never really staying in the house but rather going from home to home in the village. She knows that we will return to her home in ten months, and that her portrait will be seen soon in Africa and Asia through my portfolio.

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