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in words, sights and sounds

Portrait of pondering female tourist with NYC shirt

The ‘pondering woman’ in the above picture kept me pondering for a little while about her story.

At second thought, maybe she was not even pondering but intensely looking for the rest of her family wandering along 34th street towards the Empire State building, or most probably Macy’s.

My guess is that she is from the US on a touristic visit to NYC. What do you think?

Her hair was ash blond, though clearly not naturally blond, with black strands in front. In fact, her entire look was black & white and intentionally chosen to be that way. Her top, black & white with silver sequins signalling her current location “New York”, was combined with black jeans and sneakers. She carried a black messenger bag, ready to make her way through the urban jungle, and determined to get a few good bargains in one of the big department stores.

What profession could she have? Maybe she is a nurse. Her face reflects that she has seen a lot in her life, although she is still relatively young. She knows who she is and what she wants, and she is not easily fooled or shaken. She is not elegant or particularly sophisticated-looking, but she cares for how she looks. Ok, that’s enough…

I love looking at my random shots of people and faces, trying to suss them out. Needless to say, I might be totally wrong most of the time but in my mind these faces on my screen become alive again with their own unique stories.

A friend asked me the other day why I am not asking my ‘accidental models’ whether I can take their pictures, so I can get real close. I suppose I could do so, yeah, and maybe I will at some point; however, I am not interested in people striking poses or trying to look like how they want to be seen. I am seeking to catch a glimpse of who they are through the lens of someone who does not know them at all. This – in my view – requires spontaneity on my part and authenticity on theirs. Authenticity does not mean that I am not relying on editing. I do and I do work on my photographs to emphasize certain aspects of the images.

Of course, I am only shooting these people in the public sphere – mostly on the street – and as they present themselves to the rest of the world. This circumstance, to some extent, reflects how people want to be seen. But at least they are not as conscious of it as they would be in a portrait.

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  1. October 30, 2013

    Great photo. My first impression is that she is a social worker of some kind. She has this “how am I going to tackle this” but yet determined quality in her expression.
    I’m wondering what length of lense(s) you use. It looks like longer than 70mm. I usually use either a 18-55/f3.5-5.6 lense or a 50mm/f1.8
    The last batch of photo’s were made with the latter one

    • October 31, 2013

      Thanks v much for your comment and your interest in my blog. I often use a 70 mm – 300 mm lens. In this case, I zoomed in quite a bit on her. I am looking forward to checking out your work!

      • October 31, 2013

        You are? You already did. But you’re always welcome 🙂 . Your photo’s inspired me to put my 55-200 on my camera today. So they look a bit different than the previous ones.

      • October 31, 2013

        I meant the future posts 😉 It’s a bit chaotic here today. Sorry!! 🙂

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