Saturday, August 01, 2009

Ha, Ha Monica

For Me, This Performance Struck A Poignant Note

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Sometimes a face just stops you in your tracks. Then, despite the fact that you have a camera around your neck and media credentials in your wallet, the debate begins. Do you have the right to intrude? I always ask the person if it’s all right to photograph them. Always.

When I photographed a harp player in Quebec City, it was with his permission. When I photographed a pavement piano player in Melbourne, it was with his permission. When I photographed a costumed belly dancer, it was with her permission. When I photographed a blind busker, it was with his permission.

So when I saw this street performer in Singapore two years ago, I asked if I could take some shots of him and he nodded his assent.

Just for the record, I wasn't in his face when I shot these images. My normal lens is a Sigma 18-125mm, so I always have plenty of options. Both these images were shot at the maximum focal length, so I wasn't even within touching distance when I photographed him.

If only I’d had an interpreter, I would have asked many questions.

I really wanted to know how old he was and why there was such depth of emotion in his eyes. Yes, he had a funky haircut. Yes, he had a great shirt. But I wanted to know why he sat there in the tropical heat, apparently without any teeth, playing the harmonica as if it were his only outlet for creativity.


Visit TNChick's Photo Hunt. Today's theme: "Entertainment''.

29 comments:

Nessa said...

Fascinating face and such sad eyes.

Please visit The Chrysalis Stage and Esoteric Uncovered.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

That is a funky haircut. There are some very interesting people in the world, it is good to capture them and keep them in our memories.

CJ xx

Shadow said...

the mystique kinda adds to the attraction, right?

Cuckoo said...

Yes, I remember you posted his pictures earlier telling his story. It was so intense.

See, even your readers remember the face, the haircut and the emotions. :-)

Have a good weekend, David.

Brian Miller said...

his hair caught my eyes, but then the look in his eyes...nice.catic

Maggie May said...

He looks as though he could tell a story. Weathered face.... too bad about the language barrier.

Joanna Jenkins said...

My first thought when I saw his photo was DUDE!!!
Then I looked closer and saw years of experience on his face. Lovely. Thank you David.

TechnoBabe said...

I shows your integrity that you ALWAYS ask permission to photograph someone.

imac said...

Truly a great capture David.

That Ridiculous Girl said...

His eyes are haunting. Beautiful.
-That Ridiculous Girl

lime said...

perhaps is was his only outlet. i'm glad he permitted the photo. so much to imagine.

Sarah said...

Beautiful David - just beautiful!
Sarah

Diane Schuller said...

Wow, I too would have wanted to capture the unique character that you were so intrigued by. To know his story ...

dmarks said...

A sort of two-colored mullet there.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

What a great face! I love that you thought to capture it.

Cloudia said...

Vaion creatures that we are, we are attracted to ourselves. What creative person wouldn;t ID with this parable in human form.
Well done, and I too ask permission unless it is a public scene at some distance.....guess I've been over the line. Consider me corrected, David.
Aloha-

Comfort SpiralWelcome:

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Bold, brave, sad but most of all, full of life. Love this photo.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I love people-watching. Your subject is interesting, the hair, the harmonica, but the eyes, the eyes draw you in.

Beth said...

I really appreciate the emotion you saw in this person. I would have liked to know his story, too.

imbeingheldhostage said...

beautiful. You make us pause and consider the story behind the person-- I like it.

secret agent woman said...

The cool two-toned hair is a nice bonus.

Pastor Sharon said...

You find some interesting characters along your path! I would love to hear their stories!

Celebration of Life said...

You always tell such a lovely story with your pictures. Thank you David!

Jo

Kathleen said...

In the one photojournalism class I took in college, we were only allowed to use a 50mm lens. The reason: to force us to have a relationship with our subjects. I liked that, a lot.

I love that you always ask for permission. And I marvel that you can capture the pathos and the humanity. I also relate to the flood of questions that want to be asked. Curiosity can me maddening when unsatisfied, but I wouldn't trade for the world!

Fortunately, your photo feels like poetry, and much is left to our own interpretation. Another lovely attribute of yours!

I wonder if I can do justice to human subjects with my point and shoot? I wonder if I'm ready to build relationships with them. Maybe I've been in Minnesota too long.

Hilary said...

That's a wonderful face with his bumblebee hairdo!

God of Another World said...

David - you really have a love for people, and it shows. Your other photography is very good, but your photos of this man (and the piano player a while back) are at once tender and compassionate. You really have a gift for capturing the humanity of our world.

richies said...

I'm never bold enough to ask.

An Arkies Musings

rachelizabeth said...

His eyes do have such emotion in them. It's very intriguing.

introspection said...

You already told us a great story about him: His poignant performance, his funky hairdo, his weathered face, toothless musical renderings, a hip t-shirt, a nod to permit photo clicking (no words), the mystique of language barrier, his geography, and a simple mystery about the rest of his life. It's full story, David. The absence of his name, a dialogue with him about his past add suspense to him, with who we have all connected here.
Great capturing, and greater words. thanks for sharing it with us.
cheers!