Monday, August 30, 2021

Farmer + Hands, Campo, Cuba, 2018

There's something special about heading into the Cuban countryside. Normally we start well before sunrise and hope to find such a man in time for the perfect light. Sometimes we get lucky early, and get a chance to make a portrait after a conversation. He was great, made photographs leaning up against the Oldsmobile, some with and without his hat. His hands caught my attention, and I asked him to lift them for this image.

Note: Medium-format negative printed onto 11x14 fiber paper and toned in selenium today.

Rachel + Yudel, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2016

Earlier last month Rachel reached out to me regarding these images, as it seemed she was missing them. It happened to be our last session in 2016, in one our favorite places outside of the city. Many of my friends from Cuba have had their images made here, and some with that beautiful, blue chair in the background. It feels great when a dear friend gets a hold of me years after a session, tells me that the photography had an effect on all those involved.

Thanks to Yudel R. Contreras Garcia for the beautiful, hand-made outfits... and to Gysleda Virginia De La Barca Vega for making all of this possible!

El mes pasado, Rachel me contactó con respecto a estas imágenes, ya que parecía que no las tenía. Resultó ser nuestra última sesión en 2016, en uno de nuestros lugares favoritos fuera de la ciudad. Muchos de mis amigos de Cuba se han hecho sus imágenes aquí, y algunos con esa hermosa silla azul de fondo. Se siente muy bien cuando un querido amigo me contacta años después de una sesión, me dice que la fotografía tuvo un efecto en todos.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Anays + El Mar, Santa Maria Del Mar, Cuba, 2018

Incredible how it's been almost three years since we walked into the water for this image. While this year looks like one without travel, it's a blessing to have the time to finally print my life's work. 

Anays and her family have treated me like a brother since we first met in 2008, and this portrait was made exactly 10 years later. My hope is that they are safe, and I look forward to the day when we can return to these waters.

Thank you Caridad for making all of this possible, and thank you Idiovel for getting us there!


Es increíble cómo han pasado casi tres años desde que entramos al agua para esta imagen. Si bien este año parece uno sin viajes, es una bendición tener tiempo para finalmente imprimir el trabajo de mi vida.

Anays y su familia me han tratado como a un hermano desde que nos conocimos en 2008, y este retrato se hizo exactamente 10 años después. Mi esperanza es que estén sanos y espero con ansias el día en que podamos regresar a estas aguas.

¡Gracias Caridad por hacer posible todo esto y gracias Idiovel por llevarnos allí!

Note: Negative exposed with a Fuji GA645i, printed in the darkroom onto Ilford 11x14 fiber paper, toned in selenium for permanence.

Grandfather + Window, La Habana, Cuba, 2018

This is the grandfather of the young girl in the previous post. He allowed me to make his portrait against the window of the neighboring house. The family moved from the east to the capital in order to improve their lives, even though the majority of those in the city see them as squatters from the countryside. They welcomed us with open arms and were as elegant as any in the country. My respect for this man is immense, and I hope to see him next summer.

Note: Negative exposed with a Hasselblad 501CM/100mm combination, printed in the darkroom onto Ilford 11x14 fiber paper, toned in selenium for permanence.

Portrait in a Chair, La Habana, Cuba, 2018

Algunos dirían que esta forma de fotografía no es documental, que mover una silla o tener una conversación sobre vestuario y peinado es ocultar la verdad. Algunos dicen que esto es artificial, mostrando algo diferente a la realidad.

Les digo que todo el mundo tiene sueños y que su realidad está fuera de su control. ¿Por qué no hablar con ella y entender cómo le gustaría que la fotografiaran? ¿Por qué deberíamos imponer las nociones del mundo de su país y su sociedad? ¿Qué pasa con sus pensamientos y sueños?

Esta joven viene del campo y vive en un pequeño grupo de casas de madera. La gente de la ciudad llama a estas comunidades 'llegan y ponen', viniendo a la ciudad desde los pueblos y construyendo casas improvisadas ilegalmente.

Sin embargo, son como migrantes en todas partes, buscando una vida mejor para sus familias. Conocimos a su comunidad mientras Idiovel me conducía por el campo y terminamos conduciendo hasta su pequeño pueblo. De alguna manera terminamos frente a la casa de sus abuelos y nos invitaron amablemente a entrar.

Durante las próximas semanas regresamos muchas veces, tuvimos múltiples sesiones de fotografía con la comunidad, grabamos un video musical para su primo (una aspirante a artista) e hicimos este retrato muy especial de una joven sin paralelo en su belleza y fuerza.

Note: Negative exposed with a Hasselblad 501CM/100mm combination, printed in the darkroom onto Ilford 11x14 fiber paper, toned in selenium for permanence.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Full Moon + Quarantine, Rajasthan, India, 2020

This image of the full moon during the lockdown last year marked the lowest point of my stay in the country. Having this print almost a year later gives me both pause and perspective. While I may have felt isolated like the moon in that dark space, the reality was that I had the support of the kind hosts as well as the prayers of my family back home. Far from alone I was, thanks to Nami and his kind family.

Note: negative exposed with a Hasselblad 501CM/180mm combination, printed in the darkroom onto Ilford 11x14 fiber paper, toned in selenium for permanence.

Dancer + Freeway Exit, 16 x 20 Enlarged Proof, Bauta, Cuba, 2015

This was the third print from today in the darkroom, a 16x20 enlarged proof of a young ballerina in Bauta, Cuba. During that summer we drove further away from Havana looking for opportunities, and found a great connection in this beautiful town. 

We were driving through the town when I wondered out loud to Alejandro about the possibility of a dance school. He doubted if this town had such a school. As he was speaking, this young girl was dressed in her dance outfit with two adults on the sidewalk. We stopped immediately and were informed that there was a school, and that it offered private lessons to serious students.

They pointed out the school to us and we headed that way. The teacher was very nice and told us to come back later, after he had spoken with the parents. When we did return this young girl and another were waiting in the park along with their parents. This is what makes photography so incredible, meeting people one minute and then creating the next. 

The spot in the images is the exit off of the highway for the town. It looked so beautiful and we offered it to the parents as our set. They accepted and we had a great afternoon with the two families. At first she had doubts about her abilities, but she was perfect once the photography started. It's great to see her movements on one print, makes me feel that the enlarged proofs for Cuba are perfect!


Dancer + Beach, Santa Maria Del Mar, Cuba, 2018

Her spontaneous gesture best represents to me the hope of better times ahead. This young dancer has inspired my work in Cuba since we first met in 2016. She and her family are always in my thoughts, and I hope that the dire situation in Cuba has had little effect on their lives. I look forward to a better future which hopefully includes a reunion next year.