While it may appear at first glance that this beautiful young Himba woman was posing for this portrait, that wasn’t the case at all. In reality, she was busy grinding maize in her hut, and I caught her in between strokes!
This is one of the elder Himba women I had the honor to meet and photograph last summer in Namibia. It was really a privilege to be allowed to wander around the village for several hours, camera in hand, and document an ancient way of life.
Most of the shots I took were not posed, and all were taken with available light. I don’t even carry a reflector, let alone flash. This image was taken inside a hut. Many of the huts had stick walls, like the one in yesterday’s post, which made for some challenging exposures. In those huts I underexposed (usually 2/3rds of a stop) to prevent hot spots. Some of the huts had solid walls, where the only source of light was sunlight streaming through an open doorway. Some of my favorite images of the day were made with that dramatic sidelight.
I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know the Himba people through my eyes over the next few days…
This image of a Himba woman grinding corn in her hut symbolizes the work women around the world do to feed and care for their families.
During my time in Amsterdam, I noticed that Dutch women (and many of the men) have an amazing ability to look stylish while biking. I never spotted any sporty spandex, shoes with cleats, and hardly ever saw a helmet. They all wore clothing that was at once practical for biking, warm (I was there in April, and it was still very cold) and dressy enough for work.
The young lady pictured above is but one example. Her outfit looks pulled together, comfortable, and…pretty. Skinny jeans and dress flats are a perfect combination that can go from biking to walking to the office and then shopping for dinner or going out to a restaurant after work. Even her sunglasses add a bit of bling.
Such a contrast from the “typical” American bike rider. Vive la difference!
I was walking past this woman’s house in Vinales, Cuba one morning, and I was struck by the beautiful patterns that the irregular pieces of wood siding made. The woman agreed to be photographed, but she never smiled. She just stood in the window and stared out the entire time I shot.
I started at the far side of the house, and shot her from the left, the front, and the right as I walked perhaps 40′ in all, and took almost 20 images. Since I was using a 28-200 mm zoom lens, I was able to adjust for the varying distances from my subject, and still make images that were well-composed and needed minimal if any cropping. This image was shot at 200 mm.
I like the simplicity of this composition, and also that it’s chock full of texture, from the brittle, dry straw roof to the unusual siding patterns to the smooth leaves in the foreground. Even her soft, worn and faded clothing has a definite texture, as does her beautifully aged and wrinkled skin.
Finally, I love the incongruity of all her silver jewelry.
Texture adds another level of interest to a good image.
While I was visiting a museum on a large square in Havana, I went out on the balcony of the second floor to get some fresh air and take a look around from an elevated vantage point. As I was surveying the scattered groupings of people milling about below, I spotted this woman walking around by herself. I couldn’t help but notice her, as she was dressed very flamboyantly… even by Cuban standards!
I’m not sure what she was up to. She may have been a professional poser. I did see her go up to a group of people who were obviously tourists, talk to them for a while and then walk away. She then sat in front of a building with another woman who was also dressed in bright colors, but not as eye-catching as these. Woman #2 wore a scowl and clearly did not want her picture taken. By the time I left the museum, they were gone.
I was also able to grab an image of Woman #1 walking in the opposite direction from the image above. While it shows her face, I don’t like it as much as the first image. What do you think?
You can render an opinion since you’ve seen her from…both sides now.
While walking through Havana one afternoon, I spied this young woman standing in a window and having a conversation with a man further inside the building. I’m glad that Cubans, especially the women but also the men, are not afraid to wear bright colors. It made for some truly wonderful photo ops. I love how her yellow pants and blue blouse stand out against the green bars and railings and window frame, and the fact that her hair band matches her pants perfectly. Her posture and her hands show how relaxed she is.
One thing I really enjoyed about Havana, and Cuba in general, were all the delightful color combinations: the cars, the buildings, the clothing… I can’t image shooting this country in black and white!
Just in case you still thought Jurassic Park was a good idea….