In northeast Brazil, after some setbacks and challenges, I achieve some fine additions to two of my fine arts series.
Photography and People
A long drive through distant regions of Brazil yields many friendships, important photos – and a lesson I’ll not soon forget.
At a remote town in Eastern Spain, I confront the dual challenges of medium-format photography and soggy but painful missiles.
What motivated me was the suspicion that Cuba was a place replete with scenes and images I envisioned being universal and timeless, and perfect for two fine arts series I have been working on for many years. Owing to the blockade, economic progress for the proud (many throughout the world would say victorious) nation has advanced imperceptibly in the past six decades.
I had forgotten to count the streets but somehow intuited my way back the ten blocks to my apartment, but not before I squeezed off a couple more photos. One was of a woman sitting in a small portal of a door under a vast and antique façade in the golden and artificial street lights. When I saw her, I literally gasped, because the scene was so exciting to me, a great addition to my Walls/Spaces photo series.
“We were never rich. But at least before we had food. It wasn’t a big thing before to buy milk, which is also now very costly and requires the black market.”
An entire mall and not a cracker to be found!
A conscientious photographer strives to improve a situation, by communicating the intrinsic value of their efforts.
Many recipients seemed confused, even skeptical, and when I gave one of my cameras to Paco to take a few photos, one youngster cynically quipped, “What are you doing, just taking pictures?”
“…many Cubans were arrested just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, gawking from a street corner. They would spend days or weeks languishing in prison…”
M𝑦 𝑏𝑎𝑐𝑘 𝑚𝑢𝑠𝑐𝑙𝑒𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑚 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑚𝑦 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡; 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝐼 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑦 𝑜𝑛 𝑚𝑦 𝑓𝑒𝑒𝑡.
Further on the path, I noticed with concern a large brush fire and realized I would have to get around it. The grass crackled and hissed but the smoke was being blown away from me as I quickly moved past.
Suddenly another woman emerged and angrily confronted me. She had one eye clouded over, was perhaps partly blind, but she demanded to see my camera and the photos. I held out my camera to display the most recent one of my wide-angle shots and she excoriated me, “This won’t do!”.
– a final spectacle in the waning days of hippydom – The national media was buzzing and the nectar that summer of 1972...