Saturday, February 17, 2018

Anyel + Gysleda + EGOS, Havana, Cuba, Summer of 2017

Last summer was a difficult one in Cuba, but one bright spot was my collaboration with Gysleda and her wonderful school for modeling EGOS. While in the past it has been an incredible source of creativity, this past summer our collaborative efforts went even further.

One such example of such creativity is a young woman named Anyel. She has taken part in EGOS for a few years now, as well as in my photography. Her ability to transform in front of the lens is exceptional, and she presents herself with genuine humility. When asked to be photographed she embraces the opportunity.

On a few occasions last summer Gysleda asked me to photograph a group of models in the streets of Havana. We would meet at the school and then head out into the streets. Walking around with a dozen beautiful spirits was quite the experience, as it was the first time I saw tourists put their phones down and actually look at Cubans.

So we walked around looking for good light, and interesting backgrounds. When we found both we'd stop and all would gather around. Gysleda certainly had the vision regarding presentation and guided each model accordingly. Anyel needed very little guidance and was more than aware of herself in such a public space. She knew to look slightly up to allow the light to gently illuminate her exquisite features, a true delight with whom to work.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ballerina + Oldsmobile, Guanabacoa, Cuba, 2017

This past year she truly came into her own. This was the first time when she was photographed on her own, without her brother and sister. At such a young age she is incredibly professional and is studying at the prestigious National School of Ballet. Her future is bright.

For our session on this morning we picked her family up in front of their home in Havana. They were as usual ready an hour before sunrise and in front of their apartment. We drove out to Guanabacoa in search of a different setting for her immeasurable talents.

We drove past this spot to the railroad tracks but were greeted by an uncooperative man who had taken it upon himself to disrupt our session. This young girl is mature beyond her age, and just smiled with confidence as we collected ourselves and returned to the scene in this image.

This is where we began our session for the morning. The Oldsmobile was our car for the summer, and truly dependable it was. She loved being photographed in front of this classic and held her own doing so. This was our fourth year together and for me our best. In five months we will reunite and hopefully exceed the images we made last summer.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Carolina + Lunara, El Mirage, Los Angeles, California, 2016

Two years ago I had the honor of being included in a collaboration between two incredible talents, Carolina as a model and Lunara as a designer of wearable art. We met in Los Angeles and then headed to the most magical El Mirage for our session.

Rarely have I had a designer with me, yet it felt natural. We were all on the same page and the clouds turned the sky into a beautiful canvas for our images. Initially I thought that time would be lost getting ready between outfits. Yet once again my thoughts were proven wrong when Lunara did more than her part to move the session along.

Then there was Carolina who took it upon herself to bring the designs to life. She did so without instruction and brought a high level of energy to the session. She constantly moved and never presented the same combination of expression and position to the lens.

Working with these two talents was quite the experience and I do hope that one day we could reunite at El Mirage!

Note: This frame was exposed with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm lens.

Lunara Love's designs could be found here:

Here is an excerpt from her 'about' section:

"I am from West Siberia, Russia. The city where I grew up is not far from the biggest Siberian forest Taiga and beautiful Mountains of Altai which is where my influences have came from. Those places are famous for mystical, wild nature and Shamanic roots. Eight years ago I moved to NY, and it has been my home base since. I have traveled to the West coast a lot, and I have attended Burning Man for six years which has played a big role in my artistic expression. I have also attended a lot of beautiful Gatherings all over the world, and it has been my inspiration to create a line of Lunara Design hair accessories - danceable hair art."

Friday, February 9, 2018

Nica + I, Villa Sandino, Nicaragua, 2017

The more days spent in my birthplace the more it feels like home. Case in point is this portrait made as we found our way back from the east of the country. We happened upon this young girl's neighborhood and decided to approach her community for photographs. Like everyone else so far they agreed to be photographed and in just a few minutes she was comfortable enough to allow this portrait in front of her home.

To tell the truth she and her sister felt comfortable enough with us to hold our hands as we walked around looking for others to photograph. Once we let the neighbors know we were there, a few children walked our way and a session was started a hundred or so meters from her home.

She was quite the bundle of energy making her difficult to photograph, yet that same energy hopefully turned into some amazing portraits on film. She and her family live in a simple wooden structure, as basic as any home in Nicaragua. Yet it is hard to tell from her portraits alone. We bid her family farewell and promised that we'd pass by their neighborhood on my next visit to Nicaragua.

Note: This portrait was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Young Ballerina + Horse, Guanabacoa, Cuba, Summer of 2017

Here she stands in the middle of a field reserved for horses and boys playing soccer. Early in the morning the horses are brought out to eat grass, while the boys come out later to play. The young Cuban ballerinas love to have their photographs made here as well, and we usually end up doing so after using other areas in this beautiful neighborhood.

I have had the honor of photographing her for the past two years and look forward to doing better this summer. Her parents come along to watch their daughter perform, and are beyond proud of her progress. The truth of the matter is that this young girl has never been shy. She has always presented herself without reservation to the camera, always.

In fact she would rather be photographed on her own rather than with anyone else. This is a source of sweet tension between her and her parents, for they want her to learn from others. Nonetheless she does perfectly on her own and I am proud of her for choosing to do so.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Jasmine + El Mirage, Los Angeles, California, 2016

Two years ago my session with Jasmine occurred in the most spontaneous of ways. We had communicated through email earlier but had yet to set up a date to collaborate. Then the day before my drive from northern to Southern California we decided to meet at El Mirage the next afternoon.

We had never met before nor had we reviewed the outfits. The anticipation on my way down almost drove me crazy. When we met she was as sweet as in the messages, and was more than prepared for our session. The sun was just perfect but the wind had picked up a bit. Nonetheless Jasmine performed flawlessly for the lens and for each frame she gave it her all.

She embraced the wind and used it to her advantage. Her hair was just perfect and her movements in line with the wind. Even more amazing she withstood the dust that was in both of our faces. The images we made on that day will remain long after we are gone, and are a testament to her spirit on that beautiful afternoon.

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Cami + Abandoned Structure, Near Los Angeles, California, 2017

This past year was a truly remarkable one thanks in part to this exquisite dancer, and her incredible heart. She responded to my casting call for dancers two years ago, and never let the communication go as we went back and forth. She was totally engaged in the concept, giving her 100% throughout the process.

Even before we met she shared the clothing options, all dark and timeless according to my preferences. This was our second session outside of Los Angeles, and was just as exciting as the first. The night before was a sleepless one for me.

Watching Cami move from one expression to another was like sitting down for a performance. There were times when it was necessary to remind myself that my job was to document the performance, while still enjoying it. To have been granted the opportunity was both an honor and a privilege; and my hope is that the images are a testament to her physical talents and spiritual kindness. 

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ballerina + I, León, Nicaragua, 2017

Gracias a mi hermano Ervin Santana en Nicaragua tenemos una foto de la fotografía en León. Mientras Ervin estaba fotografiando a los bailarines en el estudio, les pedí permiso a algunos de los padres para fotografiar a las chicas más jóvenes mientras esperaban. Para mi sorpresa, anoche, Ervin me envió esta imagen que documenta el momento en el que estábamos hablando entre fotografías. Estoy agradecido por su amistad, y espero volver a este estudio para más fotografía en diciembre. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Jaedon + Dry Lake Bed, El Mirage, California, 2017

Here she was at the end of our session, as she sat ever so gently on the cracked surface of the dry lake. The sun had almost set and her shadow was long. This is our spot and to where we have gone for the past three years. Every time plans are made for California Jaedon is included... and every time she is asked she responds without hesitation.

Just like our first year, when we began our drive out to El Mirage we did so with snacks provided by Jaedon. She has always done so and has always thought of both of us, rather than just herself. She of course brought a variety of clothing for our afternoon, one which started at least an hour early so that we could find the perfect locations. This is the kind of acceptance necessary to create timeless images.

Our collaboration on this afternoon lasted until the last ray of sunlight disappeared into the desert landscape. It took us at least twenty minutes to gather ourselves, to allow our energy to calm down enough for the ride back into Los Angeles. It was yet another memorable chapter, one for which I am eternally grateful.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 503 CW/100 mm combination onto Ilford 100 Delta film.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sewing Centers by Nirvanavan Foundation, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2018

As Nirvanavan Foundation moves forward with the school in the Shamli District of Uttar Pradesh. An interfaith effort is gaining strength, and the first two sewing centers have just opened along with the initial stages of the school!