This is my favorite photo of my Russia abroad trip, though this photo was taken in Estonia.
It has a story to go with it, a memorable one I should say, well at least for me. So here it goes:
It was about a month before my Study abroad semester would end and we , meaning a friend and I, were determined to leave the country. Our first choice was Finland since it really close to Petersburg. But the only issue was that I had to make sure I could go, since I am a Mexican citizen. URAAAA!! (As the Russians say) I found out that my Mexican Citizenship pulled through and I am able to go to Finland!
But then we had this really random idea of visiting Tallinn, Estonia and again I was legible to go. Keep in mind this planning all happened on a Thursday night. The only issue with all of this was the fact that we did not have our visas at hand, Nevsky, our host institute had them. So our trip depended on whether we could get the visas the next day.
And so the next morning we rushed to the institute to figure out if we can get our visas and luck would have it that we could. So that evening at 5:00pm we purchased our bus tickets for an 11:59pm bus to Tallinn.
Once in Tallinn we were being our touristy selves, cameras in hand snapping away at anything. It was pleasant to be away from the suffocating Petersburgian Architecture and weather. At one point we were walking around the old town fortress walls and as I look up I see a person having some tea outside of a small window on the fortress wall. I NEEDED the photo. I had the wrong lens on, so I thought i would lose the shot by the time I could switch lenses and scope the person out. I thought it would be difficult anyway, because he would notice if I took the photo. I was shy, I didn’t want top enrage this person or be rude.
I was contemplating this all with my friends and they ended up convincing me that I had nothing to lose if I just go and ask for the photo, after all the worst that could happen is a “No!!” and get yelled at in a language I perhaps wouldn’t understand.
After I was convinced to ask, I remembered that I had to ask in a language where I could be understood. We were told to speak English, because the older generation could get defensive with Russian, because it was part of the USSR in the past. Spanish, yeah, who would understand me there! And Estonian, I had no idea!!
And so I was contemplating this as I was walking toward my subject. I looked up at him and asked politely, “May I take a photo of you?” To my surprise he replied in a British and possibly a bit of a Scottish accent, with a, “Yes, of course!” I could not believe it, this made my day. This was what I was waiting for. I pointed my lens upward and adjusted my aperture and shutter and took the shot. It was innate and happened quickly. I was nervous and thus did not look at the photo until I was walking away. Before that I told him thanks and that I was a photography student. I must have sounded stupid…
When I saw the photo, I could not forget that feeling of accomplishment.
This photo deserves a story. It was my favorite one taken during this day I spent in Downtown San Antonio.
I was hanging around with my best friend in Downtown San Antonio when we decided to head by the Alamo to finish up our photo adventure.
After scoping out tourists with my 55-200 mm lens, we decided to sit down near this Gazebo to wait for Stephanie’s parents to pick us up. A man in a blue, Mexican vest with a brown paper bag walked by and suddenly dropped some change he was carrying in his hand. The coin fell to the ground and rolled over somewhere in front of Stephanie and me. The man followed the coin in vain, but he could not find it. He looked impatient and distressed at the fact that his coin was now gone. Stephanie helped him find the coin and handed it to him. Anyone else would have not helped; anyone else would have left the coin on the ground and walked away, but this man needed the money.
He came to us and asked in Spanish, with a low voice and a submissive posture, for some change. I sensed he felt ashamed asking for money. Stephanie handed him some change; he slightly bowed, giving thanks.
After he left I kept telling Stephanie that I wished I had gotten his portrait. Finally, I got the courage to find this man again and ask him for a photo. So I walked up to him, handed him some change and asked for a portrait. He said, ”Si,” with his eyes lowered, again almost in shame. I took my first shot, which was blurry, so I asked for a retry and he allowed me another one. I asked his name. It was Rogelio, the same name of an uncle of mine who passed away in a terrible event that shook the family. (I didn’t know my Tio Rogelio well.)
I wished Rogelio a Happy New Year and good luck, hoping I could make his day the way he made mine. I left him some change, he left me this photo.
I was in Portland, Maine in a coffee house reading. I had to snap this photo!
If I back track, the story goes something like this:
I participated in a collection of memoirs at Bates College. These memoirs eventually became part of a book called “They Were Beautiful. Such Things Are.” Memoirs for Change from Dadaab, Kenya and Lewiston, Maine”.
My memoir was chosen for this reading to promote awareness of immigration in Maine from refugee camps in Africa, mainly Kenya and Somalia. The book also contains stories of people who have come to Lewiston, Maine in search of a better education and life.
***100% of the proceeds from the book will go to scholarships for Women of Kenyan refugee camps***
These are some recent drawings and studies. I just wanted to change the focus of the blog a bit. The time for photography and drawing to come together will be an exploration I will most likely take on in late April.
The sincerity in a childs eyes and smile. This again is part of my collection from Panama. This moment can only be described as the decisive one, when nothing is staged, and the shutter closes at the precise moment .