Story of a Face in the Crowd

I was drawn to this week’s photography challenge because I love portrait photography – what I love about it most is capturing the emotion in the face, an experience or glimpse of the soul reflected from the eyes…but this was really a challenge, because without the face, what is the image portraying – what am I capturing?

It really did become a challenge. Most of the opportunities I saw were while driving. My camera was with me but to avoid a collision or causing one, I kept driving, unable to stop. In instants, as I passed by in my car, I framed images; a glimpse of someone through thorny bushes walking their dog in the park, a man cycling with a helmet and glasses, dappled shadows covering two people walking their dog, street signs giving me a partial view of a woman about to cross the road, a figureless head walking the other side of a wall…

I put my camera back in the bag, drove home, picked up the dog and went out to the local dog park. I slung my camera across my shoulder because, well, you just never know.

Just before the path through the park leads into woodland, this girl appeared, her back to me. I didn’t catch her face at all because she was already heading in the opposite direction, but without seeing her face I’d already decided she was a teenager. Was that her hoody or her hair that told me that? Maybe that only teenagers would come out in near freezing temperatures without a coat. Does that resonate because I am a parent to teenagers or would it be obvious regardless? She seems relaxed, her shoulders are dropped. I thought her parents had bought her the dog one Christmas. It looks so cute and cuddly, like the type of dog you’d buy for your daughter. I bet they spoil her. I wondered if she was happy and with her dogs tail up, I figured she was.

Someone else might look at this photograph and see something completely different, perceive a different picture and portray a different story…and I realised that emotion captured in a portrait can be unmistakeable, but remove that and there can be many stories and different perceptions of one subject. In this image, I created a story of a teenager who is relaxed and happy, walking in the cold afternoon sunshine with her beloved dog she was given by her doting parents for Christmas. Someone else could look at this and…well, that will be another story…

 

THANK YOU FOR THE INSPIRATION