Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

That Friday feeling (potw #28)

I take a lot of portrait photos, as you will have spotted if you’re a regular visitor. Often, I choose a wide, or wide-ish, perspective to give the portrait some context, as in my last picture of the week. This week, though, I really wanted to focus on people’s faces, so I’ve been stepping out with my much-neglected 85mm lens. I wanted to take some simple, uncluttered pictures, with faces as the focus of attention.

I see a lot of different kinds of reaction when I approach people to take their picture. Hilarity, bemusement, sometimes irritation, but never hostility. Some people become self-conscious, almost standing to attention in front of the camera or, worse, pulling their camera face, sometimes accompanied by the dreaded thumbs up or V sign. These don’t make good pictures, but even the most reluctant or over-enthusiastic subjects will often start to feel more comfortable once they’ve seen a couple of pictures of themselves on the camera screen.

My favourite response, though, is that of people who simply carry on with what they were doing: smiling, frowning, dreaming, scowling, working. I saw this gentleman on Friday afternoon. I liked the way his t-shirt matched the rust on the metal gate behind him, but most of all I was drawn to his posture and expression. He was sitting just as you see here, with his head in his hands, not unhappy, but as if he’d got to the end of a long week and couldn’t quite muster up any enthusiasm for the weekend. I know the feeling. He barely moved while I took a few pictures, but broke into a big grin when I showed him the result. I can’t speak for him, but it was the highlight of my Friday.

6 Responses to “That Friday feeling (potw #28)”

  1. Kim@StarrySkyRanch

    Just found your blog the other day and your work is stunning. You’ve really breathed life into the images. I am curious, do you normally approach your portrait subjects before shooting? If so how do you explain what you are doing? I normally shoot rather igconito on the streets but then of course am without releases etc for those images.

  2. bluelyon

    Lovely photo. You captured him very well. I love your work. (Oh gee, am I really saying that again for the umpteenth time?)

  3. Orlando Uy

    I can very well imagine the hand signs people put up when they’re being photographed. There is definitely a very huge similarity between Vietnam and the Philippines.

    Nicely done on both the story and the photo.


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