I heard a really great photographer saying once that photography is not only about keeping your own memories and family souvenirs.. photography is about people.. The other people.
Though I’m no portrait photographer, I love portraits, especially those representing people from different places, different cultures, faces of pure strangers.. Strangers you feel related to, strangers whose stories are written in their eyes and on their lips.. Strangers you feel close to your heart, just because they are humans..
Some people strike you with the way they look at things, deep sad faces.. still intelligent and alert..
Then beyond their old age, or their old clothes, beyond the dirt and the confusion, you see great people, people who weren’t given the opportunity to prove themselves, special souls fighting to survive and facing a tricky life with wide smiles and thankful hearts.
…Then a sweet little boy watches you from the distance as you point your camera here and there, and flinches with a wide smile when he realizes that the lens is pointed towards him..
He runs away to hide behind his mother, but his eyes never quit watching you, and an innocent smile of triumph floods your heart with joy..
I followed the rusty railway, dragging myself after the fading colors of a thousand lights.. And I’ve heard the whispers.. the chants of the unseen guards guiding my weak legs.. Unfathomable words, but I knew the meanings.. and I walked and I walked..
I’ve been walking through the same way, round and round but it seemed to lead to different places.. I derailed many times but it’s the same path.. along the rusty railway..
In the old station.. A thousand people waited, a sea of little curious heads.. Silhouettes of strangers, of lost souls.
And I waited too.. On the bench.
The mumble of the crowds started to fade, still the chanting never stopped:
“Not far from the old oak tree,
Behold the gates to the lost city,
the railway through the shadows,
O stranger! Take a fancy to our tea party! “
So I screamed: “O! put me on a train.. Let me go find my hometown.. Show me the railway to neverland.”
.. and the blaring sound of silence pierced my ears.
He was sitting on a broken woody box, near one of the small streets of the Old Medina, waiting for a customer whose shoes needed a nail here, some glue there or even a new layer of leather.
His eyes, rarely looked away from his craft, reflected a buried pain or maybe was he just worn out..
I approached him with a whole set of confused emotions to ask for his permission for a photo, I couldn’t make out the words.. It maybe showed on my face so he had pity on me and let me..
Awkward as I am, I didn’t get the camera settings right the first two times, which made my task even harder and made me feel even more awkward and clumsy..
It was one long second, yet one great experience, a fraction of time but one that tells a story of a lifetime.. Reflected by every lane drawn on his face, traces of hope and perseverance, of struggle and survival.. Traces of the passage of time..