Haitian "Momma's" Portrait Project

March 01, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

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Momma's & a few of the orphans at the OTV, now named "Source de la Grace East" Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, 2010

 

Getting ready to pack for Haiti. We're 9 days out and it looks like - at least for the moment - we're a go. Seats are booked and we're all pretty psyched. I've finally allowed myself to believe we're going. It could still get yanked… I keep watching the news for signs of unrest as elections draw nearer… but now, today, it looks good. Time to get the iPhone stocked with music & books on tape for the flight.

 

Haiti Kit Build Sequence from John Crane on Vimeo.

A quick stop action vid of packing & unpacking the 2010 Haiti kit to show on the blog.

As usual I'm deliberating over what to bring. Having been down the same time last year I have the advantage of knowing what actually was used and what stayed in the pack. This time around I'll make some tweaks. I've decided (again) not to bring the RZ. I was on the fence, but it's just too difficult bringing two different systems; too big and cumbersome to shoot fast and therefore wouldn't serve as an adequate backup camera should something happen to the D3S. The F6 shares all the same system components as the D3S with the advantage (?) of shooting film. So I'll get my film fix with the practical benefit of only gearing for one system. The rugged build, ergonomics, quick handling and dust sealing make it a no brainer. Besides, it's my favorite camera: going without it would somehow make me feel unfaithful.

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Old Faithful, tucked in and ready to go.
 
This year we'll be more on the move than we were last year. Last year we were able to hunker down in one location and get comfortable for the week. This time we'll be split between three different locations and traveling quite a bit more. Gonaives is a 2-3 hour bus ride from Port au Prince and we'll be staying in a hotel in Gonaives, not at the project with the kids like we did before. So with all that bouncin' around, the lighter and simpler the load, the better.

 

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The momma's take excellent care of - and love - the kids.
 
At our last meeting one of the "momma team" gals suggested we get some nice portraits of the "Mommas." For those unfamiliar with the term, "Momma," in relation to Haitian orphanages, they are the ones who do the heavy lifting with the kids. A "momma" is a local, Haitian woman employed by the orphanage and works very hard taking care of all the little ones. Like many "momma's," they're responsible for cooking, cleaning, laundry, the health of the kids and just about anything else. They love the kids. All of them. Also like many momma's, they don't get much time off. Part of our team's plan is to pamper the momma's. Give em' a break. Some of the gals on the team have prepared a special treat for them, and we're going to take over their duties for at least part of the time so they can kick back and relax a little. Part of that kick back is a nice portrait. Hence, the lighting.

 

Bringing the studio strobes down is simply not an option - too big and heavy… so in light of that, I just picked up a Nikon SB-900 (pun intended…). The plan is to use the SU-800 head to trigger the SB-900, 800 and 600 through umbrellas. I'm a bit constrained for space so will leave my stands home knowing I'll have plenty of VAL'S (Voice Activated Light Stands) down there - as in people holding the light/umbrella contraptions. It should be a lot of fun. My friend Len is loaning me one of his "shoot through" umbrellas, and I'll have one of my silver reflectors for a little diversity.

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No more gunpowder residue in 35mm canisters. This year they'll all be wiped down before we hit the airport.
 
The hardest part of it all is getting film through airport security. Last year I had a scare at DIA as we were just getting under way. I handed the film around the scanner to the gentleman who wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Another gentleman came and took the bag over to another machine where they did a quick chemical analysis. This revealed gun powder on at least some of the 35mm film canisters. They called me over and started asking me questions as the rest of the team was putting their shoes on, looking over like, "what's going on with John?" Turns out after swabbing every other canister and them being sure there was actually no gun powder they let me through. Only the original 4 rolls of TMAX that tested positive went through the X-Ray to make sure and they were fine. I was glad and all for the security measures (who wants gunpowder on their flight?), but a little nervous. This time I'll be wiping them down before we get to the airport.

 

Guess that's it for now. Updates to follow regarding trip status and I promise, no more fruit roll ups ;~)>

 

 


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