Sunday, July 19, 2020

Syrian Girl + Classroom, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019

Last summer was supposed to be spent in Cuba, but Customs officials seized my film and plans changed. The summer was instead spent expanding on the work begun in 1997 and going to new camps. One such place was this young girl's camp. 

Like the rest of the girls in my photography in Lebanon, she is Syrian and was forced to move from her home. The camp in which she lives is quite large, and split into three parts. Each part represents Syrians from various parts of the country. What they have in common is their heartache, and desire to see their homeland once again.

For this portrait a very nice man allowed me to enter the school that a European NGO started for their children. He had the key and we found the space to be both serene and creative. All of the girls went home to prepare, to play with their hair and to also bring some scarves for variety.

There was a meshwork in the window along with a wooden stick. This incredible man removed both so that the light can enter freely, and put that material back up once we finished. These details make these portraits, and without them the images would be impossible.

She is a remarkably strong girl, and had no problem being photographed in front of the rest of her friends. As a matter of fact I returned on two more occasions to make her portrait, in the same space and with that glorious window ready. Last summer the photography in Lebanon changed, as we entered schools and people's homes to make the best portraits possible.

The sheen of the paper has been left alone in this image, so that we get a sense of the magic of film photography, and the depth of the shadows. It's a privilege to have made her portrait, and to have this final image in my hands this evening.


A Syrian Through the Loupes, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2019

A look through the loupes of a negative made last summer in Lebanon, of a Syrian refugee living in a camp near Zahle. While the pandemic has prevented me from seeing her and her family this summer, they are in my thoughts constantly. The printing of their negatives in the darkroom helps me relive our encounters from last year. She and her family have been living in Lebanon since the hostilities forced them to leave Syria. My hope is that one day they can return and rebuild their homes.