Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Apertures (IX)

Sunlit doorway with child, in Saint Laurent du Maroni, on the Maroni river near Surinam, where convicts once disembarked from France, when French Guiana was a penal colony for the condemned and dispossed, as can be read in the work of Henri Carriere's Papillon.

Friday, January 27, 2006


chai! chai! chai!. Breakfast tea -chai- on the Konkan Railway, south of Ratnigiri, India. 2003. Traveling in Second class.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


'Chasing beauty'. Models run along the beach near Cartagena, Colombia, days before a beauty pageant in the city. 1999

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Frontline Colombia

'Giving birth'. 1999. Maternity Hospital, Bogota, Colombia. Tri-X 400.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Postcard (Colombia)

Campesina.(Farmer's woman). 1989. Kodachrome 64

Back in Colombia, on hallowed ground, after a long trip to the US. Back to work, and hope you all enjoyed the holiday snaps from the Big Apple.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A shot from the past

Victor Carranza. Colombia's 'emerald' king. 1990. I photographed Carranza, while visiting the renowned emerald mine of Muzo, some 80 miles northwest of the capital Bogota. Carranza's legacy has been to build an empire based on the precious stones which are mined in Muzo, and exported all over the world. Colombia, is one of the few countries in the world, where emeralds are found and mined, and the 'green fire' has been the subject of many books and films.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

market place.

The fish market. Mangalore, India. 2003.Black and White Tri-X film 400 Asa, Leica M6 camera.

Disheartening-to say the least-the announcement last week, by Nikon, that it will stop producing many of its 35mm SLR cameras. "The measures that Nikon will adopt include discontinuing production of all large format Nikkor lenses and enlarging lenses, as well as several of our film camera bodies, manual focus Nikkor interchangeable lenses and related accessories. Sales of these products will cease as supplies are depleted." see full article at Hart's Big Picture
It's the end of an era. For sure. The digital revolution won an important victory, this week, in the marketplace. The everyday consumer decided the course of photography for the years ahead. Film is out, long live the pixel. The rationale: it's cheaper, and easier for the common man to use. If only life could be this simple. Photography made easy. What a pity. What I love about photography, is just the opposite - that it's not easy. It's an art that requires patience, skill and dedication, and above all, sacrifice. Had it been easy from the start, I probably would not have become a photojournalist. I would have looked for my challenges elsewhere. In another market place - in another industry. Does this mean that photographers in the future will have it all too easy?. Just one click, and then, it's over?. No need for shutters and apertures. No understanding of grain and film. And what impact will this have in our future, when recording history has been made, all too 'easy'. Will we also get bored of trying to leave a record of our humanity, its triumphs and its tragedies, for future generations?. Will history too become obsolete, if the consumer has his way?. Let's not even try to imagine the pictures we would have had, if recording Auschwitz would have been both cheap and 'easy'. Maybe they -the pictures- simply would just not exist. No sacrifice needed, or the pixels, would have crumbled and disappeared. Who can guarantee that the jpeg 'file' can stand the test of time?. Too many questions in what I predict as the new 'dark ages' of media.

picture dedicated to Adi.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


This is my final post from New York, and just when I shut down my gallery blog 'The Girl in the picture', I came across her...sitting at the end of the linoleum counter at The Empire Diner in Chelsea. A small tribute to the American realist painter of the inter-war period, Edward Hopper (1882-1967). Another visit ends to this great city, and I am excited about working for 5W Mignon-Media. Media consultants in this digital age. I will also dedicate time to building up blogs as a scource of content and research. Check the 5W Mignon media Spanish blog for updates in what is happening in media, in the spanish-speaking region and around the world.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Letter from India

Dreaming of Bollywood

India, the world’s largest film producing nation, has gone global. With over 1000 films produced every year in Hindi, Bengali and 26 different languages, Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, has become the center of a unique entertainment universe. Known as ‘Bollywood’ - a term used in the 1970’s to convey to the world that Bombay was a rival to Hollywood - the Indian film industry now employs over 2 million people and is dedicated to making a continent laugh and dance its troubles away.

Bollywood’s fame now outstrips Hollywood's. Believe it or not...with a global audience of 3.6 billion from Singapore to Seattle, its bigger and bouncier than Hollywood’s 2.6 billion audience, and the films which are produced in India have become the great social stabilizer which keeps this country from bursting at its seams. With an ever growing population and a great fan of India culture, I decided to travel to the heart of the Indian movie madness in Mumbai, in search of- what else- the Bollywood dream.

For many non-Indians, like myself, the Bollywood adventure begins long before you reach India. Shortly after take off from Newark, New York on the Air India flight 144, I was served my first steaming dish of hot curry and my first Bollywood movie. I didn’t know which one was spicier. The movie or the food.

As we cruised 36,000 feet on the 20 hour trek half way around the world, I noticed my fellow passengers transfixed by the images which flashed across the movie screen. There were a lot of beautiful women dressed in their traditional ‘saris’, dancing and singing. Several good looking guys, in their Saturday Night Fever outfits, waving at the beautiful girls, dancing and singing too. There was some more dancing, hip thrusting, tears, and more singing. 'This is a sad movie' said the passenger in seat 34B, as I fumbled for my plastic headset. It’s a ‘boy looses girl’ story. When the movie ended, we were somewhere over Europe, and the boy, finally, got the girl, and probably needed hip replacement.

Five Bollywood movies later, jet lag and with a funny tummy, I found myself driving up to the gates of ‘Film City’ on the northern most outskirts of Mumbai, India’s sprawling industrial and commercial city of 18 million. The dream of ‘Bollywood’, begins when the black tide of humanity ends and the Mumbai madness retreats in the distance.
On 516 acres of lush forested woodlands, ‘Film City’ is the artistic oasis of India’s film industry and the jewel in the crown for its international productions. Founded in 1977 to promote regional cinema in the state of Maharastra ‘Film City’ produces almost 400 movies a year, 40% of the national average. ‘Film City,’ like everything in India, is as monumental as the Taj Mahal. There are 18 air conditioned studios, editing suites, big and small sets,and a ‘set’ for virtually everything.
Need a genuine country village ‘set’ or recreate a town square to shoot your next Ghandi epic ? Film City has it. One can even step up to the small Hindu temple for a quick ‘pooja’ (prayer) for the success of your next movie. It’s all included in the price of using the facilities of Film City.
Yet, the Hindu temple hasn't seem a lot of activity in recent years, as Indian productions have become a guaranteed success at the box office, and many movies are now shot on foreign soil. “You can double your money here in Film City’, says Krishnan Mehta, an eextra on a shoot in the Film City.‘The returns on your investment are sure’ he claims as we drink yet another cup of chai, strong Indian tea.
In a country in which 14 million people go a see a movie everyday and 6 billion tickets are sold each year at theatres across India, ‘failure’ is a word not common in Bollywood circles. Yet besides the large quantities of money which go in to financing these movies, and the huge rewards they may reap, I am still baffled by what secret ingredient makes a Bollywood movie a blockbuster.
And Bollywood is everywhere. From movie posters plastered across store fronts and lamp posts to elegant homes and train stations, to the Bollywood soundtrack CD’s sold on street corners and inlocal markets. Bollywood is bouyant. Bollywood creates the trends and markets everything from basic household appliances to fancy electronic gadgets. National newspapers dedicate entire sections to the latest actors and Bollywoodian gossip and India’s internet sector has developed sites and links so that fans across the globe can log in, post and chat with their favorite stars.
For Mehta, the secret lies with India’s rich cultural past. ‘The movies are not about killing people, or taking your clothes off. We write stories of love’ he affirms. In west there is a gap, between what you see and what you feel. In India, Bollywood makes you feel that every film ‘is my story’. And taking ‘my story’ to the big screen, can be an epic undertaking. Like everything else in India.
The average movie in India lasts close to three hours, and employs hundreds of extras. The films are usually about class interrelationships and family values, in which the leading protagonists go through a series of emotional trials, and resolve complex personal issues. Usually the actors end up questioning their very existence, and reaffiriming their belief in destiny, and life, and everything in between.
Movie with titles such as‘Tomorrow may never come’ (Koo Ha na Hoo) or ‘The Miracles of Destiny’ are big sellers. Very existential for a country that gave the world gurus, yoga and the concept of re-incarnation. So as I dig deeper into the Bollywood illusion, it seems that the success of a movie, also has a lot to do with something more divine- Indian women.

Given the amount of attention Bollywood has been getting recently in the international press, I agree with my guide Pushnatan’s appreciation that Indian film has become enchanting as a result of ‘its heroines and beautiful women’. The bejeweled leading women of film, like star Aishwarya (Ash) Rai, who recently graced the front cover of Time magazine as the ‘new face of cinema’, are modern day role models for thousands of Indian working women -who are increasingly, educated, career oriented and mobile.
And although it might take some time for us on this side of the world to pronounce the names of India’s leading men and women of celluloid like Aishwayra Rai, Amitabh Bachchan or Shahrukh Kahn, the fact is that India’s superstars,may become household names in the US if Bollywood continues it grip on the world.
‘There is a large Indian community around the world hungry for home grown entertainment’ claims Singh, a lingerie importer from New York, who travels regularily to Mumbai on business. ‘The escapist elements in Indian film, like the songs and the dance have a universal appeal’.
And the Bollywood appeal has started to influence important film directors such as Baz Luhrman, whose hit Moulin Rouge was undoubtedly a Bollywood inspired film and big US film distributors have begun distributing Bollywood films worldwide.
According to Indian film director Mira Nair of Monsoon wedding and Mississipi Masala fame, in a recent interview with Time magazine, Aishwarya Rai ‘will be the next Penelope Cruz’. Affirmations which predict well for Bollywood’s future.
But Bollywood is more than just beautiful faces and bountiful talent. As I walk up to some good looking actors whispering on their cell phones, under the burning midday sun, it is clear that the secret of Bollywood’s success is that it is above all else, truly Indian. From the clothes, to the music and the hypnotic dancing, Bollywood caters to the India’s masses. ‘They (Bollywood) build the dreams of the common man’ says Sanjeev Prasad of an important government ministry, in his protocol voice. ‘In India people can go without a meal. But they cannot go without movie’. And Bollywood is the great dream machine that makes it real.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Photo Booth

There's nothing like a good caricature to get the year off to a good start.Reminds me of British illustrator Gerald Scarfe's work on the Pink Floyd Album, The Wall.. Self portrait. 2006

The Wall

The DKNY advert on a brick wall on Houston Street, in lower Manhattan.

The dancer

Viridiana Calvo. Dancer at Colegio del Cuerpo. Cartagena, Colombia 1999. Black and White. My tribute to Edgar Degas.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Beatrice and her sister Nicoleta, in their flat on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A seat with a view

Miami International, MIA. An American Airlines Boeing 757 rolls down the ramp at sunset. For more interesting airline pictures, visit www.airliners.net or the blog of Juliana Forero and her boarding pass.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Postcard (Colombia)

Going to the market in San Vicente del Caguan, in southeastern Colombia. I shot this picture which shooting on assignment for Time, this Colombian boy and his horse. A beautiful picture to start a new year in cyberspace.