During a 3 month trek across Egypt, I spent some time in Cairo, visiting my friend Simon who moved over to Egypt from England several years back. Cairo was actually my first port of call before my planned trek, to take in as much of Egypt as possible. Spending a week, with a friend who knew the city was so helpful in ‘bedding’ me in to the culture and culture shock before heading off on my own.
Taken in the beautiful grounds of the Cairo Museum, under the shade of tree’s. If you have been there then you will know the garden as round walls around trees and various statues. So this is where I was seated. Initially just taking in the sights and sounds, a mother and child sat down about 5ft away from me.
Every so often, the kid would peer round the protective cover of his mum and look at me with these huge eyes. Now being the considerate photographer I am, and mostly being aware of how rude just taking my camera out with its big telephoto lens and pointing it at them both would look, I considered my options. I knew this could be a awesome series of shots if I could pull it off.
One needs to be cautious and respectful of people’s privacy, especially in a foreign country, so I was comforted knowing I had been polite so far.
The next step was to keep my camera down by my waist, where it was hanging, but angle it up and hope for a decent frame. Trying to keep it as ‘covert’ as possible, without raising any suspicion. Very sneeky and not at all how I wanted to handle it, but I couldn’t just point and shoot. Too rude. And to ask would have destroyed the moment.
Every time the kid peered round, I snapped off a few shots whilst I kept eye contact with the kid and tried to grin myself. In my thoughts hoping that I had got the framing right, and all the other details. SO it was just press and hope for the best. Story of my life really.
The child was very cautious at first, only peering around a tiny bit, before darting back behind protective cover of mum. But each time, he became a little more confident, and his eyes got wider and the smile got more trusting. And each time I snapped a few frames.
I was caught tho. The mother happend to just look round, and I took a gulp. But all was OK, she looked at me, then the camera and smiled. So I took the initiative and held up the camera and pointed and gestured a sign ‘would you like to look?’. So I carefull edged over showing her the LCD on the back of the camera and she had a huge smile on her face after seeing the photos.
My only regret was not being able to communicate with her to get an address, as I would have loved to have been able to send her the shots.
This photo was one of many, but was pretty much one of the last taken. The rest were either wonky or too blurry. I think I took about 20, of which only several came out sharp and pretty much perfect.
The photos taken with my trusted Canon D300 and a 200mm zoom. Enough natural light to be able to have a nice shutter speed and ‘duff’ out the background.
Although the original photo is actually very good, I have made several versions of it using various subtle color washes.
I have also ‘dodged’ and ‘burned’ aspects of the photo, the child etc to really try and emphasis the white eyes against the dark skin and the mothers black attire. The look is not totally natural, but it’s what I wanted to achieve and I love it.
It proves that being in the right place at the right time with the right subject can ensure a ‘one off’ image. I keep looking at it time and time again and it brings back such vivid memories of Egypt and the initial innocence of a child, who slowly over time gets more confident and almost playful with the unknown. The unknown being me.
See other selected photographs from my Portfolio
MetaPost Tags: black and white, cairo museum, child, egypt, mother, portrait, portraits
Post Categories: Photography, Portfolio
Post Written by Graham Smith: @thelogosmith on March 7, 2009
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