Sunday, May 24, 2015

Young Model + Rural Road, Artemisa, Cuba, Summer of 2014

One afternoon we decided to visit Artemisa, Cuba. Last year we did the same and photographed four aspiring models living in this small city. We had their prints in hand and contacted them to set up a time to meet. We made the hour and a half drive from the capital and arrived early enough to have some ice cream a block or so away. This province was chosen to formally host the July 26 celebrations for this year, while of course all of the provinces did so less formally.

When we walked to the spot of the meeting one of the young women was already waiting with her mother. It seemed odd to me at that very moment that the daughter was dressed in all white, then again perhaps she had other clothes in her bag. After ten or so minutes nobody seemed to be in a hurry to collaborate, and so the question was put forth: are we making photographs today?

The young woman was surprised, as was her mother. It was at this moment when I knew that we failed to communicate effectively our plan for the day. The look on Alejandro's face is as clear today as it was two months ago. Once again the lesson of assumption was learned, and once again we had to pick up the pieces and put a plan together for the afternoon.

Soon the second model arrived and she was as surprised as the first. We talked for a bit and hoped that they would be interested in more than collecting their photographs. The twins were yet to arrive, and so we decided to give them a call and discuss our plan before they arrive. We were still early, but by the pace of the conversation being had at that moment the sun would set before plans were realized. It was at this time that I made it clear to all that we needed to decide quickly, and that we had already located a suitable place for our photography prior to our meeting.

As we were making progress the mother of the first model decided to put forth her thoughts, which were at best unhelpful. She thought another location might be better, without having seen our choice. She spoke in Spanish thinking that perhaps none of it would be understood by me, while Alejandro knew better but kept his mouth shut.

Fortunately the others were very interested in the photography and went home to gather their clothes for the session. We then offered to put the images from last year on their flash drives, and did so while we waited for them. We even offered to do so for the troublesome mother, but she declined to leave her flash drive behind knowing that she would never come back for it.

Thirty or so minutes later the young women and their parents returned and we drove to our location little more than five minutes away. It was a dirt path perpendicular to the main road, with sugar cane fields on both sides. The young women used the cars to change and we worked for the next hour or so exposing frames for them with their chosen outfits. Farmers in the meantime rode by us as we worked, in carts and on bicycles. The scene was deeply moving, and I was in two worlds at the same time… that of fashion and that of documentation.

As we were finished the twins put their music on for us, and we enjoyed their voices as they had recorded an album earlier in the year. We returned to the city and put the pictures from the afternoon's session on their flash drives as well with smiles all around.

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

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