Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kuna Women

Leaving on a jet-plane today back to home in FL. Coming down here to Panama has been an exciting, creative journey and I have many plans  for our return next month. My dreamy (some might say loco), Pisces mind has been spinning with ideas! In NOT looking for my next photo project, it came to ME. I was working the past couple weeks on Danny's website, which I'm pretty pleased with:, and in looking for Mola images I fell into some reading on the Kuna Indian's here in Panama.
I found a women in Austria who has created a partnership for the Kuna's within the San Blas region (the Figi of Panama), a place I plan to travel to upon my return. She is raising money through the sales of Mola's to contribute to a scholarship fund for the Kuna children. LIGHTBULB! Perhaps, I could shoot a photo essay and create an exhibit/fundraiser to the cause. Mrs. Austria loved the idea and has given me some useful info that I plan to pursue upon.
With that, I've started to build on a sort of Kuna portfolio so that I may propose a shoot to the Kuna people themselves and later an exhibit here in the "touristy" Casco Antiguo area of Panama City.
Here's some early samples:
Kuna simply translates as "People" in their native language. As I mentioned, they primarily reside in the paradisal island region of San Blas and spread along the Darien coast of Panama and spill over to the Western reaches of Colombia. 
Representing the largest indigenous group in Panama, they are the second "shortest" civilization next to the Pigmies in the world. Also, there is a large, and specific civilization of Albino's within the Kuna population. 
They are a female dominating society, YES! Kuna women dress in kind've a celebration of their "woman hood". When a young girl enters puberty there is a small festival within the village. Differing to most cultures including my own where "becoming a women" feels more like a curse! Their traditional attire consists of loud fabrics which themselves are called Mola's and simply translates to "clothing" in their language. We outsiders know mola's as ornate, quilt like fabrics typically portraying images of wild life, specifically fish like images due to their waterscape surroundings.

The Kuna here in the city are very weary. I don't blame them for considering a Gringa like me with a big camera to be a threat and potentially exploiting their culture. They demand me to pay $1 every time I snap a shot of them at their mola stands. 
3 snaps of my shutter= $3.
I'm cool w/ that. However, I'm somehow planning to work w/ the Kuna's directly to communicate that my cause is theirs. Yes, I want to show my pictures and a little positive feedback is always nice, but why do it, why get out of bed in the morning if not to do a little bit of good for someone else.
Ok, MJ, get out of my head with your "We are the World" jive.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Long time. Must blog.

Coming to you from my noisy Apt in Panama City. A little stir crazy but feeling creative I decided to skip yoga and work on this blog thing I put aside months ago. It seems between shooting and this computer thing I've acquired a lovely case of Carpal-Tunnel, my excuse to ditch yoga and all the down dog's or should I say "perro abajo" but here I am clicking away. Panama, Panama! a wild ride to get here and almost time to go home, just for a month. It's been a long time dream for me to live out of my country and thanks to my #1 guy for making it possible. With that, I wanted to share some of my shots and a bit of commentary. Here's some scenery and surf, and I'm throwing in a bit of fashion for the hell of last job from home, a story in it's self I'll spare you and me both from.

Here are some shots from Isla Grande, my first trip to the Caribbean coast.

This is a transitional time for me especially creatively. What's next? Life's thrown me some curve balls already this year and it's been tricky to really focus on much of anything consistently. Like surfing for instance, after a Dr's ordered break, I moved to Panama unfortunately free of my "diagnosis" and cleared to surf the glassy, beach break waves of Playa Venao (a desolate Pacific beach on the coast of ummm Central Panama)*see down page. We took this trip during the week of Carnival, a huge spectacle down here. We chose to forgo all the festive nonsense to surf..and just chill out! (We camped for a week at gorgeous Eco Venao) Well neither came easy to me, the surfing or the chilling that is. With a clouded head and heart, I faced Mother Ocean with resentment and confusion. I learned that trip that you're either with her or against her. Like any woman, you take her for-granted and you pay. My first wave came and I felt pretty natural about it (even though these were big waves to be diving back into the game on). I went for it! Well, so did Danny and cut me off with a smile. He intended for us to ride down the face together, like we have in the past but I didn't see it that way at the time and from that moment I couldn't look at HER the same. I felt green, and frustrated. Although I haven't been at this long, I had found what I thought was my niche but too many months went by and I lost my groove. Without being in my "happy place" I cannot be a "happy surfer". One cannot solve the other and if you push it you'll get hurt, and I did. After 3 days and many nice bangs by the board (the final 2 in the head) I threw in the towel, for now. 
The plus about being a photographer, no trip is ever a bore. You're never really OUT of the action with a camera in your hand.
I'm anxious to start shooting in the water! The shore's just not doin it for me. 

On a technical note, my love affair w/ Leica has dwindled. Unless I shoot her in B+W the clarity just isn't there, and for a $1,000 point and shoot I would've expected more.

Note to self: bring your good gear w/ you everywhere from now on! It's too depressing to compromise quality shots for the fear of theft..get over it!

Ciao for now, V