I think nothing is as inspiring for your creative development as a personal long term project. By working with one subject over time you get to know your subject in quite a different way and find new ways to express your vision. In addition when working with people – as I mostly do, you develop a relationship over time that is invaluable when it comes to access. People you photograph relax and are able to behave as themselves when they get to know you. It comes down to trust, interaction, understanding and eventually friendship. Part of the deal with a personal long term project is personal. By photographing – as it is in my case – without an editor telling me what he or she wants, by no restricting conditions, by having complete freedom, you are able to work from your heart and let your spirit in the moment bring you to new places which usually is not possible when for instance you are doing an assignment.
Since 1991 I have been visiting Cuba on a regular basis – mostly every year, although more like every second year the last couple of years. I have found my personal long term project in the agricultural area of Viñales in Western Cuba. There I have gotten to know a family who’s farm is overlooking a small lake and the so-called mogotes – limestone rocks – which are very characteristic for Viñales. The family farms the land and live a very simple life. They are poor, but are able to sustain themselves, and in many ways they are richer in spirit than many other people I know. I have seen people at the farm grow up, marry, get children – and die. They have become like a second family to me, and I am always welcome to stay at the farm at any time. I bring my camera and myself, and then just spend time with the family. And every year I bring photos from the previous year. They always cause laughter and enjoyment among the family members. Visiting the family in Viñales has been a great experience for me, both on a personal level as well as photographically. My personal long term project. This year I plan to go back in September – and I really look forward visiting my family again.
The last picture of this series is the first I ever took of any of the family members.
On a different note, I would like to apologise for not having been able to visit your blogs and comment any of your posts the last month or so. It’s just been a very busy time for me with a lot of travelling. All the more I appreciate your patience and willingness to comment my posts. I intend to catch up during the summer time, when work will cease to be as busy as it has been lately.