I remember when I first landing in Cuba, I started taking photographs immediately. I walked about the city in awe and wonderment. I was so busy snapping away that at some point I came to realize that the building that I thought was dilapidated and abandoned was a filled to the max with families living with a great sense of honor. Buildings old and new, modern and in disrepair where everywhere to be seen and experienced. I was embarrassed that I had snapped away at someone’s living quarters.
Building upon building was filled with warm bodies and odd electrical wiring.
When I took a tour through recently Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, I had my camera ready but felt strange viewing the destruction through a photo lens. The clicking of the camera seemed obscene. I eventually started taking photos because I felt that their story had to be told in a number of ways going forward.
As I have traveled the world, I have been increasingly fascinated by the buildings I have encountered. They say so such about the human condition and human dignity and indignity. When I was growing up, the building next door to me was supposedly abandoned. It also was where the government cheese was distributed to the poor and marginalized and where, during the height of the crack epidemic, crack was sold in small cheap bags to the desperate. That building symbolized so much to the disenfranchised. It was the stuff of nightmares and desires.
Every building has a story or two (pun intended).
A photograph can at times capture it.
At other times, only stepping in and breathing its air can tell you what the building is about.