Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Young Girl + Building, Matanzas, Cuba, Summer of 2014

After talking with the vendor on the side of the street, we drove to his small town in search of faces. When we arrived to the center of town, more produce carts lined the street, along with a group of children playing soccer in front of this building.

We were a little nervous, so I thought the best thing was to make a picture of the building, let people see me out in the open and allow the conversations to begin. Alejandro let me into the trunk, I took what I needed and walked across the field to the building above. The children's curiosity got the best of them and they watched with enthusiasm as small pieces of garbage were removed by this stranger in preparation.

A few exposures were made, then I thanked them for their permission and walked back to Alejandro. We talked for a little bit and then decided to hit the road to the city almost two hours away. We backed the car onto the street and started to move forward when this young girl walked across the street in front of us with the most defiant attitude. In response to our attention, she looked right back at us and produced the most incredibly confident expression.

We drove a few dozen meters away until Alejandro noticed my desire to go back. He knew me well enough to know that we needed to find this young girl, and so turned the car around and drove back to the field. She disappeared up the path adjacent to it, and we parked our car trying to come up with a plan. This was a new place for us, out in rural Cuba and out of our comfort zone.

We decided to talk to some of the older men, and got the attention of a kindred spirit, an older gentleman with kind eyes. As we were talking we saw the little girl walking on top of a two-story building, like she had really nowhere to go. We asked the older man about her, and he said that she lived with her father only, and that he would leave her to the community during the day while he worked as a laborer.

So here was this little girl, left to her own ingenuity, going from one neighbor to another until her father came home in the evening. This made me want to photograph her even more so. We knew that without her father it would be nearly impossible, but pushed forward and walked to her neighbors' houses to have the conversation. It turned out that they were so warm to us, and advised that her father would be thrilled to have her photograph made by us.

The look on her face as we had this conversation about her was priceless. She was so pleased that her neighbors allowed us to collaborate, and prepared herself immediately. We had less than thirty minutes of sun left, and moved quickly. Four rolls of medium format film were exposed on her behalf, and she moved from one expression to another like she had done this dozens of times before.

The image above is from the first roll. I so look forward to our next visit, to sharing these images with her and her neighbors, and to further gaining their trust for yet another round of portraits.


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