Sunday, July 16, 2017

Syrian Girl + Garden, Zahle, Lebanon, 2017

She is as striking as her predecessors in her camp, as beautiful as any other in this world. Her homeland is in distress, and her life in Lebanon is anything but stable. Yet she does what she can to help her family, and endures with such grace.

On my second day to her camp she was helping her mother with the purchase of some vegetables from a visiting truck. She caught my attention right away, but her presence was missing as we had our first session.

As the third day arrived it seemed that she would never come, and then she approached us with a smile. She might have seen the photographs in her friends' hands from the day before, or just the commotion from the photography. Regardless she allowed me to make her portrait twice, in the shade and in direct sunlight.

She was silent the entire time, but spoke volumes through her expressions. My hope is that this portrait does justice to her spirit, and that she allows me once again to make her portrait tomorrow.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Designs of Yudel with Patricia, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2016

There is something truly special about this incredible island that continues to bring me back. While of course the cars are sublime and the music is untouchable, the people of Cuba impress me deeply for they embrace without hesitation. 

This image is such an example. It all began when we visited a modeling school seven years ago, and were welcomed on our first visit to photograph the students. Every year since then the collaboration deepened, allowing us to photograph those we wished to photograph. In addition, the two best designers in the capital have allowed us to freely use their works with the models, and to do so for as many days we wished over the past few years.

For this session we were fortunate enough to have the designs of Yudel on hand. This man is simply divine, as is his work. For the models we were photographing, he selected pieces suited for their frames and personalities. He allowed us to visit his shop, also met us at a park near his home all to make our work that much simpler.

We made this image at the end of our session, as the sun's strength increased. Patricia put the long, flowing dress on and began to dance in the rural streets of Guanabacoa. The shutter was released in line with her movements, pure magic.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Daughter of Sheikh, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2009

On the 11th of August in 2009 her portrait was made, over a dozen years after my photography was born in her camp. She and her family lived in Lebanon as migrants, and her father was in charge of negotiating between the Lebanese farmers and the Syrian laborers in his encampment. Her community had one foot in Lebanon, and the other in Syria.

She has two older sisters who had been photographed by me previously, when they were allowed to be photographed... and two younger sisters who photographed freely with us at the time of this portrait. She is the most precious of girls, and words fail me in describing my feelings for her and her family. She is like a daughter to me, and my upcoming trip to Lebanon is filled with the hope of seeing her again.

One day as we finished our photography and were walking back to her tent, we shared the most incredible conversation out in the open, yet out of hearing range from the community. It will remain in my memory for life, and is what drives this work forward. Such experiences are priceless and demonstrate how special this path in life truly is.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 V system.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Teacher + Student, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2016

When people ask why Cuba... it is difficult to answer in words. In the beginning perhaps it was the allure of vintage American cars behind the curtain of communism, the Afro-Cuban rhythms carried over to American jazz by greats like Dizzy Gillespie. 

It has been a dozen years since that first visit, and now it is the people of that sweet island... as perhaps it has always been. They are a most magnificent collection of cultures, colors and spirits... turning the everyday into an experience to remember.

Such was this morning with Gysleda and her wonderful apprentice in Guanabacoa, about 20 minutes outside of Havana. It was an ordinary field before they stepped onto the grass. With their immeasurable talents they transformed it into a stage like no other, and helped us produce images hopefully worthy of their efforts.

Nothing needed to be said, as the shutter was released most effortlessly. I am sincerely humbled to call these two women my sisters, and to be allowed to document their performances year after year. My hope is that we can do the same this summer!

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Young Arab Girl + Sky, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2010

Whenever this young girl steps in front of the camera she presents the most beautiful smile. Her features alone are beyond compare, and being with her in person is an indescribable experience. She rarely speaks, and when she smiles she lights up the world. She is of Syrian origin, and lives with her family in Lebanon in order to earn a better living. Their home is a simple tent and is without running water, a toilet... with electricity being a simple wire for a single light.

She and her family have fascinated me from the beginning. They live just outside of the tiny tent city, at the edge of the field. The families in the main homes refer to themselves as Arab, while they refer to her family as Bedouin in origin. She may be 15 years old by now, and my mind can only imagine how beautiful she has become. i look forward to visiting the site of this portrait, and hope to reunite with her family in a few weeks.

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Zion National Park, Utah, 2016

While having to cancel my trip to Lebanon last year was difficult to do, my time in Utah turned out to be a blessing. Every weekend was a new national park, and every weekend was an opportunity to expand my photography was well as reflect in solitude. It was truly a blessing, and the images from those weekends have left me with the visual memories of those reflections.

Walking and driving through Zion National Park took my breath away. It seemed impossible for this space to have been formed without planning, for it was perfect in every detail. Perhaps this was the true face of nature, something that my eyes had never seen before in my travels. Spending two months in Utah has given me the desire to document the natural beauty of the other countries, while continuing with the portraits of course.

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad V System, onto Ilford Delta 100 film.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Asian Couple + Mesa Arch, Utah, 2016

Last year what was perhaps a disappointment turned into a blessing. On the eve of my trip to Lebanon work called me to Utah, and in turn gave me a chance to visit the national parks in that beautiful state.

Since it was a bit cold, most of my time in the parks allowed me to photograph without tourists in the scenes. These were some of the most serene moments in my life, allowing me to reflect upon my time away from home as well as the nature of my photography.

Now and then however tourists were hard to avoid, especially in the more popular spaces. This frame is one such example, as Mesa Arch is world famous. Towards the end of my session a group of tourists walked past me and to the arch. They walked around and made some photographs of each other, while taking in the incredible beauty around them.

It was at this moment when the thought came to me: why not photograph the scenes as they are?

So the shutter began to click, and the attached image is the result. The couple clothing reminded me of my own parents, and especially of my father's photographs of my mother in New York City a half century earlier.

As the tourists made their way past me once again, the men stopped to admire the film camera on the tripod. They were astonished to see the camera, and especially the lens mounted. Little did they know that their portrait was made a few minutes before... but my intuition tells me that they would be more than pleased. At least I hope so!

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/250 mm Superachromat lens onto Ilford Delta 100 film.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ballerina + Beach, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2016

As summer nears my mind wanders to the beaches of Cuba, and the dancers kind enough to allow this collaboration. This young dancer and her parents have been involved in my work for the past two years, and my hope is that this summer makes three. 

We were fortunate enough to have found her as we waited for one of our families in front of the dance school. That morning we were looking for a young dancer to take the role of an apprentice to our veteran dancer. She then appeared seemingly out of nowhere, on the back of her father's bicycle. We knew immediately that she was the one, and the rest is history as is often said.

On the day of this image, we picked her and her parents up from their home in Havana and headed for the beach. We were lucky enough to have sunshine in the late afternoon on the island, and took advantage of the light. She was very courageous and climbed up to be photographed, embracing her moment in the spotlight.

She lives to dance, and takes photography just as seriously. Her family's acceptance humbles me truly, and even more so in that they go out of their way to ask for inclusion in my work. I look forward to this summer, and hope to do better for her and her parents.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Eduardo + Rolleiflex, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2016

To be a photographer on the island is difficult enough, but to be one working exclusively with film is something entirely different. This incredible man, a dear friend and brother, works in a hotel to supplement his love of photography. He works in all three formats, from 35mm to the field camera, and also develops his film in his own darkroom.

As he walks in the streets of the city, most Cubans believe that he is a tourist, until he responds to them in their native tongue. He is one of the few on the island who wants nothing to do with leaving, and embraces his life fully. He is an artist without comparison, and moves to his own rhythm. He speaks to the guests in the hotel in well over four languages and is the man photographers visit when arriving to Cuba.

I am honored to call him my brother, and to know that he always comes along to collaborate when we offer a session with our families. Here he is with his favorite street camera, with that familiar zest for life.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Shanu + Shawl, Nirvanavan Foundation, Rajasthan, India, 2017

She is the most gentle of girls, and alone is reason enough for us to continue with her school. Thanks to the generosity of two dozen from this beautiful circle, she and the girls in her village attend classes guided by Nirvana and his team. She lives adjacent to the school, and attends classes every single day.

When the camera is present, the expression on her face turns completely serious and she steps in front for her portrait. Her hands are usually down to the side, and her gaze is deep and heartfelt. She will look to the other girls nearby now and then, to perhaps share her amazement at being photographed.

She cannot speak, yet communicates volumes... she cannot write, yet uses the chalk and a simple board to express herself perfectly. The school is everything to her, and we aim to make sure that as long as she wants to attend the school will remain. She is the first to greet us when we arrive, and the last to wave goodbye as we drive down the path to the main road.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.