Expressions in Black & White

April 10, 2011

 

One of my favorite things in life is people watching. I simply thrive on observing the human condition as it careens down the chaotic streets of my world. Having camera in hand makes it possible to capture moments that would otherwise flit by like fireflies in the night. Below are some modest captures from my recent trip to Indonesia which I've dubbed Expressions in Black & White, just because of the contradiction. Expressions are never black & white. There is always an area of gray.

 

 

With permission, I managed a quick shot of these cute Balinese boys as we waited in the swelling throng at Pura Batur Temple. Can't remember how I felt about their expressions right at that moment, crushed and uncomfortable as I was in the sweaty crowd, but glancing back now I would say that these boys were hovering somewhere between amusement, boredom and disgust!

 

 

Ah, to watch the shyness slip away! That beautiful moment when the child doesn't flinch or hide at your unabashed smile, your warm admiration of their innocence, or the fuss that you make over them in your strange cooing voice! Terima kasih, Baby Dinda! Thank you!
 

 

Parents! The bane of adolescence the world over! This was the daughter of the kind gentleman who invited us to join his family on their pilgrimage to Pura Batur Temple. My capture of her happened just seconds after a brief scolding. Didn't understand the heated exchange, but her expression reveals a lot!

 

 

Brilliant performers of the Legong Dance in Bali - taking in the applause...the adulation...the roar of the satisfied crowd! But wait! Is that really what was floating through their minds? Hmmm? To be honest, I think these ladies couldn't wait to lose those tight and scratchy outfits, just so they could tuck into some fantastic Indonesian grub!

 

 

And what was this sweet elderly woman thinking as I pointed my lens? I had just purchased some trinkets from her (candle holders that I didn't really want), an excuse to give her money without taking her dignity, because she looked like a woman in need. She saw my camera and asked, "Photo?" And I snapped a quick pic, unsure as ever as to whether I was taking her dignity that way, instead. When she smiled at the digital image of herself on my camera's viewer, I realized right then, I wasn't taking her dignity at all. I was only stealing her beauty.

 

 

Roasting away under the bright Bali sun, I was snapping pics of renovation work at a Museum called Puri Lukisan in Ubud, when I noticed that the workers had stopped to stare. Self-conscious and fearful that I might have offended them, I pointed to make it known that I was taking shots of their work and not them. But in unflinching Bali style, several of them started posing and dancing, their good-humor contagious there under the brutal and cloudless sky. And I found myself suddenly glad to be given the opportunity to take a few of those lovely Balinese smiles home with me.