Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ballerina + Beach, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2014

While we have known each other for a few years, last summer was our first opportunity to work together. We met in front of her dance school as she and her wonderful mother were waiting for classes to begin. Two parents approached us with their chidden, a boy and this young girl. They wanted to be included in the work, and we welcomed this of course. Right there and then, Alejandro took out the reflector and 'tested' their reaction to strong light. The young boy's eyes immediately closed while this most beautiful dancer's eyes stood strong. We knew from that moment on that she would shine in front of the sun.
However we never did connect that first year and so when we saw her again last summer we immediately talked to her mother. She agreed just as immediately and we arranged for a session outside of her dance schedule. Our first session included her friend and collaborator, since she always danced with him during performances. They of course performed perfectly on that first session, but the sunshine truly bothered the young boy. We made magnificent images but something inside of me wanted to photograph her on her own.
We struggled with this for a little bit and then during a visit to her family's home I presented the idea to the family. I was of course worried about the reaction and will never forget the grandmother's reaction. She eased my worry with a smile, and the idea that the boy's family would be just fine with it all. What gained their respect most of all however was our acknowledgement of the boy's feelings, and this was relayed to me later by her mother.
We arranged to work together the Monday following the weekend, and left it at that until we were on our way back from the countryside. Just as we do with all of the families, we called her family to confirm the night before on our way back home. Her mother was of course so kind, but due to miscommunication she thought that we were going to confirm prior to that phone call and advised us that her daughter was with her father for the next few days.
I wanted to reassure her and advised her that it was unimportant, in a Spanish phrase which seemed innocuous to me. Naturally she responded that it did matter and that her daughter was very much looking forward to this opportunity. We were touched by her reaction and her desire to contact the father to get everything ready for the next morning. She agreed to be collected from her home quite early, and to go with us to pick up her daughter on our way to the beach. We were greeted by her incredibly kind father who would have had every reason to be bothered. He was anything but, and had nothing but sweet words for us.
So this image is from that second session, and we had the most perfect day on the beach. Selecting which negatives to print from those two hours will be most difficult yet most pleasing, since there are just so many. Since last summer we have remained in contact through email, and developed a genuine bond with the family.

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

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