Monday, May 29, 2017

Anays + Tree, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2016

Many adjectives have been used to describe her, and all of them have fallen short in the end. The power with which she presents to the lens is undeniable, and she gives every frame her all. She loves dance, and loves photography as much. As my friend Alejandro likes to say, 'she was born for photography.'

While many with much more experience have stepped in front of my lens, few have ever produced such results over and over again. She loves to be photographed, and asks to come along even when we have a session with someone else.

Just looking at this series may help us to understand the talent needed to make some images. These twelve frames were made in less than two minutes, yet in each one she presents differently. It seems as if she has the next two frames in mind while the present one is being exposed, always ahead of the shutter.


Note: This series was made with a Hasselblad V system onto Ilford Delta 100 film.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Young Girl + Madrasa, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017

For those of us involved in the interfaith effort taking ground in her village, this portrait is being shared. This is the second image we have shared of this young student, and in both she presented with the same exuberance. While her life is a most difficult one, this is the smile she shares with us every single time in front of the lens.

She is one of the younger students and often times gets less exposure during our photography sessions. When she does however she shines, barely being able to control herself. The room in which she is standing has become our favorite room for photography in India, and allows her to be herself without the prying eyes of the village.

During our most recent visit to her region we spent well over three weeks, and did as much as possible during that time to help move the interfaith effort forward. The madrasa's leaders put together a list of prospective students for the sewing class, and have moved along with the list of teachers for the collaboration. We hope over the next few months to report on the progress, and to make sure all of those giving to this project see this project bear fruit.

So far all is coming along nicely, and later this year this young girl will be attending a revised curriculum in her own village... thanks to the guidance of Nirvana and his team at Nirvanavan Foundation.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Students + Friends, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017

These two young girls are students in the village adjacent to our host's home. They attend a traditional madrasa which also presents the formal government curriculum. Over 200 students attend, with six teachers doing their best to provide a quality education. The headmaster is a most generous man, inviting us to his home the very next night for dinner.

On our way to another village the day before we passed by this school and our dear brother Imdadullah offered to speak with the headmaster. They happened to be good friends. We talked for a little bit and arranged to stop by the next day for photography. Classes happened to begin by 6:30, a perfect beginning for our session.

So we agreed and the very next day we arrived by 6:20 in the morning. The students were already in their classrooms, and looked our way with curiosity. We spoke with the headmaster and the teachers for a little bit, and then organized to photograph the girls first.

It was a great morning, as we photographed with direct sunlight first and then ambient light in the classrooms. Learning from our sessions in another village, we asked the girls to pick a good friend with whom to photograph. The mood was light, allowing the girls to be unusually free with their expressions. After all, this was still a traditional madrasa.

We hope to include this school in our interfaith efforts next year and will present it in the near future to this wonderful circle. 


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Young Girl + Field of Trees, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2016

On the third of August this portrait was made, just a few hundred meters away from her home. While her home is far to the east of Cuba, she now lives near Havana with her father in the search for a better life. Years ago she came into our lives as we were photographing ballerinas in the field across from her home, and now she has become an integral part of the work on the island.

Documenting this young girl is quite an honor, for she truly loves to be photographed. At first it seems that maybe she prefers differently, then after a little bit it becomes clear that she embraces it. This is especially true when we go to the beach, and this year we will do so at least twice. She deserves to have such experiences, and we will do our part to make it happen for her and her family.

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pontiac in Cuba, Havana, Cuba, 2016

The hood ornaments from Detroit move eerily along the streets of Cuba, like ghosts from the past. They range from Chief Pontiac to Cadillac's Flying Lady. They are reminders of a complex past, when automakers with arrogance placed certain symbols on the front of their shiny cars, without much thought to the significance.

In Cuba these ornaments take on an additional significance, for the history between the nations has made it so. They sit on top of cars which have existed since before the revolution, and have seen the evolution of that same revolt for over six decades. They have born witness to the exultation as well as the heartbreak.

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm lens with extension tubes onto Ilford Delta 100 film.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Young Student + Madrasa, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017

This past visit to Shamli was filled with hope, and we held onto this as we visited village after village. With the help of our host Imdadullah and the guidance of Nirvana Bodhisattva, we were able to document the students.

Face after face, student after student, they came forward. This was for most their first time in front of a camera. Their expressions touched me deeply, as this was their chance to communicate from someone outside of their community.

She was as strong in front of my lens as any model has ever been. In front of her headmaster's office she stood, with the field behind her school as a backdrop. We hope to introduce a sewing class to her school, and hope to include the older girls from the village.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sisters + Embrace, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017

This year we spent considerable time in this beautiful part of India, and visited many villages thanks to our wonderful host Imdadullah and family. It all began in 2013 when we were invited to document the refugees in the region, and continued through last year when we were asked to take part in an interfaith effort.

These two sisters attend traditional classes in their village's madrasa, and look forward to a fuller curriculum thanks to their headmaster's desire to provide such. This idea has been made possible thanks to the generosity of those on here who responded to my posting a few months ago. We have organized a small group of people, and have begun the process of helping this village achieve its goal.

The girls loved the spontaneous sessions, when they would be called up from the classes below to make photographs on the rooftop of the school. At first holding each other seemed a stretch for them, especially in front of a lens and their friends. After a few days however they took to the closeness and allowed their expressions to flow freely.

These sessions were so popular that the girls allowed me to do my film work without any hesitation, knowing that the fun images were to come next!


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Students + Me, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017

It's been two weeks and the memories are still fresh in my mind. This image was made by my brothe Mukesh during our last weekend in Uttar Pradesh, India. We had finished our formal portraits and the girls were having fun with the small camera, expressing themselves alone and with friends. I was walking over to get some film and stopped for a second behind the girls, while Mukesh made this portrait. For those of us involved in these schools, these are two of the students in the new interfaith effort guided by our dear brother Nirvana and Imdadullah.


Note: This image was made by a Sony RX100M3 by my dear friend Mukesh. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Namely 11 Years Before, Havana, Cuba, 2005

...and this was Hamely's first portrait over a decade ago!!


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad V System.

Hamely + Ocean, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, 2016

I wonder how many of us will recognize her now, how many of us know her features. It was over a decade ago that she was sitting in front of her home on the sidewalk as we walked by with our cameras. She was less than four years old then, and her mother permitted us to make her first portrait in the street next to the home.

Since then her portrait has been made every year with the exception of one. Last summer we had the honor of being allowed to take her to the beach, along with the family of course. She absolutely loved it, all three times we did!

She brought a few pieces along and jumped into the water almost immediately. I was so glad to have purchased the hand-held camera a few years ago for just such an occasion, as these images were made in the water with her. She of course was a natural, as she has been in front of my camera for over a decade.

Her home also is located in one of the most visited parts of the city, and she is used to having her photograph made by countless tourists. Almost all of them comment on her hair, and her clear beauty. With the exception of myself and my dear friend Thomas, none however have ever brought photographs to her afterward. It is my honor to have been a part of her life for so many years, and I do hope for many years more!

Note: This image was made with a Fuji GA645i onto Ilford Delta 100 film.