Metaphysics of portraits


In our own daily life, acquaintances with people around us will grow over years. A month may pass with just nods and a smile before the first word is spoken. We do not have this luxury while travelling. So do we quote Andrew Marvell for consolation, “Had we but world enough and time”, and walk on? No, I’d “rather at once our time devour”. People are friendly as often as not, and the false starts leave you no worse than before.

In a walk through a market in Munnar, we stopped to talk to a fruit seller whose broken English was much better than our Malayalam. After a mundane little conversation about fruits, whether it is difficult to sell with this horrible inflation, and quenching some mutual curiosity about each other, I asked whether I could take a photo. He was fine with it.

I had a couple of problems with this portrait . The most obvious is that his face closed up and he stiffened. Conversation with him was not as forbidding as the face he presents to the camera. The second problem was the light. Not only was the surrounding light extremely harsh, but also the kiosk was covered over with a blue plastic sheet which put a unhealthy colour cast over everything. It took some time to control these issues. I liked the mirror behind, and tried to use it. I wonder whether this works.

Would you like to take this photo and try to do more with it? No copyright issues if you link back to this post.

7 thoughts on “Metaphysics of portraits

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