The Photographer’s Wrath

Francisco Castro

Havana photo by Pedro Abascal.

HAVANA TIMES — I ran into her as she was trying to flag down a taxi. Speaking with her, I noted the weary expression on her face, it revealed fatigue and something else, something that wasn’t normal for her. What then came to my mind was that she must have been angry.

She’s a film photographer, and though we graduated together, she has worked countless times more than I have. For me, as a director, it’s almost impossible to get money to produce anything.

She’s done all types of audiovisual projects, never turning down anything. She always finds an opportunity to do good work, and that’s exactly what she does – good work, despite any adversity.

Wherever you look you can find her name, recognized in cinematography as synonymous with quality, with her work standing out at times as the only remarkable quality of a movie.

Right now she’s back at work in a studio, overseeing three cameras. It’s a program by the Canal Havana network, produced by a former classmate and directed by another one.

She’s in charge of the filming of a group that consists of lighting technicians and a camera crew. The vast majority of them are men who are older than her, guys who for the first time are working under a woman, and undoubtedly one who knows her stuff.

Perhaps because of this, and for other reasons, she’s had several unpleasant encounters throughout her brief career.

Canal Habana is in a shameful state, operating on the barest of bones. Among other aspects, this is demonstrated in its electrical infrastructure.

It’s almost equivalent to getting a university degree what you have to do to connect lights onto the studio’s grid. If you plug in certain power lamps into a specific plug, they can explode; and if those go the whole system will collapse.

Since this was the first time my friend worked for this network, she was unaware of that information, which also wasn’t shared with her by her subordinates. They simply refused to connect the lamps where she directed them to be. Because of this, she had to rearrange the few lamps at her disposal three or four times to achieve the illumination needed.

That was when one of the lighting technicians revolted. He said he’d been working for years and had never met such an insecure head lighting professional or cinematographer. He drew his line saying that he wouldn’t keep on hooking up lights whenever she wanted him to.

That was when the wrath of the photographer bubbled over. It wasn’t something explosive or of catastrophic proportions. Rather, it was one of those where it seems like the world is about to end, but very quietly, imperceptibly, like an implosion.

First, she told him off in front of everyone, so they wouldn’t think she was going to run away scared off with her tail between her legs. Then she took him off into a room, and there — alone — they worked out the problem.

Of course with this one problem solved, another one was created. Now my friend is considered a “fula,” someone no one wants to form bonds with other than those exclusively work related.

That’s something she doesn’t care about though. She has her own friends who will listen to her and share their points of view. I’m one of them.

Because of this, it’s all the same to her if nobody pays any attention to her if she tries to strike up some trivial conversation in the middle of a break. The only thing that matters to her is that her program’s image remains impeccable, despite the small acts of sabotage to which her efforts fall victim.

Certainly, like any human being, things have taken their toll on her. She’s tired. While waving down a taxi, my friend revealed her anger, her fatigue, and something more. She — barely 25, and with no more than three years of work experience — is already disappointed.