I am not usually brave in taking portraits of strangers because of the usual fear of confrontation. But whenever I feel that my action will not result to any untoward scenario, I do manage to summon the courage to point my camera to a complete stranger and click the shutter. Here are five of my favorites.
A couple of analogue buddies and I went for a lomowalk in a fishing village in the city of Paranaque last year. When we got to the final spot, we found a child sitting on a wooden foot bridge. Knowing that a child will show little resistance from being photographed, I decided to approach him. In order to do that, I had tread the narrow wooden bridge, which seemed so fragile. By the time I realize that there is a good chance that I will fall off the foot bridge, I was almost at a suitable distance to take the portrait of the kid. I gathered the courage and proceeded a few steps more. With a smile I gestured to the child that i want to take his photo. I just took his silence as a sign agreement. I crouched and press the shutter.
This next photo was taken during another lomowalk. We passed by a beggar on the street (although I was not really sure). Her face was wrinkled and weary as she was standing against a brick wall. She looks as though she could not do any harm, so projectsnap and I gestured, and took her photo, resulting to this portrait. She looks part awkward and part confused. We gave her 40 pesos, as though we were paying a model of sort.
This photo is what I consider as my first best Lomograph. It was summer; my friends and I went to Subic, Olongapo, to unwind in a resort. On the beach, I saw a Japanese family enjoying themselves with the sun and the waves. A little girl in a bright red top, holding on to her sandwich caught my attention. I wanted to take a photo of her, but knowing that she was with her parents, I knew that I had to ask for permission first. The Filipino that I am of course did not know any Japanese except perhaps for “sayonara” or “moshi moshi san!” As soon as her mother looked my way, I beamed a smile at her and with a subtle gesture of raising my camera, I got her approval! I only took one shot, as I did not want to be too imposing, nor did I want to make the girl feel more awkward that she already was.
I once rode a bus along Taft Avenue. I noticed in the adjacent bus were two foreigners. I could tell if they were a couple or co-workers, because they are not sitting beside each other. But perhaps that’s only because the bus was almost empty. I was thinking as to why they are here Philippines. More than that, why are they in a non-aircon bus? Since I brought my camera, I thought of taking a pictures of them. As I was in the act of peeking through the viewfinder, one of them glanced at me. I quickly hid the camera for the fear that they might get annoyed. But to my surprise the woman smiled and took her camera and gestured as though she was gonna take a photo of me. Because of this, I took as my camera out again; we simultaneously too each others portraits. They laughed and gave me a thumbs up. I gladly returned the gesture.
This last photo is my favorite portrait of a stranger. I took this during my second visit to Sagada. If you have ever been there, you’d know for a fact that locals are not necessarily fond of been photographed by tourists. They are just not used to it. As I was walking back to you place, I saw what assumed were father and son. As I was passing by them, I courteously asked permission to take their photograph, knowing that I will certainly be denied. The father hesitated for a slip-second, but to my surprise, agreed to my request.
How I wish I have a way to find these strangers again, so that I may give them a copy of their portraits.