It’s time for one of my favourites. When I lived in Ghana working for the Red Cross, I worked with a small NGO caring for disadvantaged children. Most of them lived with their families or, in case they were orphans, their relatives in the local communities, and we would regularly tour the villages to monitor their personal and academic development, enquire about their needs etc. For me these trips also proved to be great photographic opportunities, as they took me to small villages that rarely got visited by outsiders, and people were often curious and eager to talk to us and have their images taken.
One day, in the community of Kwesikrum, as we left the compound of one of the families, I noticed this old man resting on a stack of wooden poles. I followed the standard procedure of implicitly asking whether it would be okay to take a picture (make eye contact, smile, tentatively raise your camera a bit) and he made me understand that he was fine with having his picture taken.
Now, I don’t want to give myself a pat on the shoulder here, but I still consider this to be my strongest image to date (obviously only relatively to the rest of my work, not in absolute terms compared to the work of others). I just love the intense but simple colour scheme (the vivid red of his trousers, the mouldy green of the wall behind him), the pose and his gaze, his right eye all but blind, the left one still inquisitive. Considering I had just started photography and didn’t really know what I was doing, it probably came down more to luck than skill, but a result is a result. Consequently it is one of the few images that have actually made it to my wall, the wall of a friend who worked with me in Ghana, my parents and a friend of my parents. Yeay.
The image was taken with the Pentax K-r and DA L 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens at f/5.6, 1/50th sec. and ISO100 at 55 mm. So this image was taken with an entry-level camera and cheap kit lens at the lens’ spot of poorest performance (full tele and max. aperture) – and it still turned out very well. Yes, if you look at it at 100% it’s pretty soft, but who cares …