Honesty is rare enough. But when expressed through unflinching photographs, it becomes a unique artistic expression.
Hinda Schuman, in A True Story and Dear Shirley, reveals her 40-year journey and transformation in a series of images that are evocative, humorous, and intimate but always without judgment. By the end of the book, you are touched with a satisfaction that comes from a difficult trip that ends with everyone reasonably intact.
There is also great humor in this approach, seeing styles and fashion that are worn and then jettisoned, and a sense of self seemingly hardwired as a youth but transformed over the course of a life unfolding.
As singular events, what Hinda shares through her photographs is quite painful and obviously difficult in the moment. However, in hindsight when she arrives at authenticity, one feels that the experiences were clearly worth the suffering.
When Hinda first showed me the images for her book and we were about to develop a sequence, I became mesmerized by the clarity and directness by which she told the story of her closest relationships falling apart.
Her loneliness hits you right between the eyes like a hurled chunk of loose rock. The weight of love lost carries heavily across her pages, only to be brightened by rare smiles.
Nevertheless, Hinda is not self-referential; her protagonists are people who could be any of us. Her suffering resonates and becomes a ballad of love lost and found.
The juxtaposition of the black-and-white images of Dear Shirley with the color images in A True Story emphasizes the passage of time from the days of black-and-white to the Technicolor of the present.
The artistry of her images resides in her unusual framing, her cut-off and cut-up faces, the rhythm of eyes open and closed. The tenderness in her nudes reveals the vulnerability of her subjects, and we become enthralled.
We feel as if given a brief glance into a personal diary and a glimpse of private moments usually not revealed. Experiencing the expanse of time and images is like hearing a great raconteur regale you with the events of a life lived fully and carefully, and that is a very rare treat.