Portraits and Facial Impressions – Set 1

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Over the years I have accumulated photos of people who left lasting impressions in my mind.  Most of them are just ordinary individuals in various places I’ve visited whose actions or facial expressions represented certain peculiar characteristics which made their image in the photo more meaningful.  I’m sharing these photos in this series entitled “Portraits and Facial Impressions”. This is Set 1 of the series.

Acehnese Boys more than 1 year after the tsunami

“Young Survivors” / Indonesia 2006 [Banda Aceh, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam]: I had an opportunity to work in Aceh in 2006 (more than one year after the Indian Ocean Tsunami). The general impression I got of the Acehnese people was that of incredible resilience despite the massive devastation and loss of life they experienced.  These young boys’ facial expressions mirror that strong, admirable character.

Acehnese Coffee: A hotel barista demonstrates how the coffee was prepared

“Barista” / Indonesia 2006 [Banda Aceh, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam]: One of the good things Aceh is famous for is the Acehnese coffee.  Because Banda Aceh is an Islamic city; alcohol is prohibited but youngsters and adults alike can be seen in stalls along the streets until late at night having a good time drinking coffee, allegedly laced with weed in some cases.  In 2006, a modern hotel was inaugurated in Banda Aceh and it featured the Acehnese coffee.  In this photo, a barista demonstrates how it is prepared.

A wood carver inside Eagle Valley at the Gobi Desert




“Mongolian Wood Carver” / Mongolia 2005 [Eagle Valley, Gobi Desert, Umno Gobi Province]: Gobi is the second largest desert in the world and is shared between the territories of China and Mongolia.  Dalanzadgad, the capital city of the South Gobi Province of Mongolia is around 600 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar.  I first visited Gobi in 2004 and found this man carving miniature animal figures from evergreen trunks and branches inside a gorge called Eagle Valley.  I was able to revisit the place more than a year later and still found the man in exactly the same spot. I keep a version of his work – the piece with an eagle at the center of his display – as a souvenir.

Two Nauruan girls sport a Coca-cola cap during a fun walk

 “Coca-cola and Nauruan Girls” / Nauru 2008 [Republic of Nauru, Central Pacific]: Nauru is one of the smallest countries in the world with a mere 21 square kilometers of land area. I first visited the island in 2007 and got another opportunity to revisit in 2008. On my second visit, I captured this photo of young Nauruan girls during a 7-kilometer (almost half-way around the country!) fun walk sponsored by – you guessed it right – Coca-cola.

A hungry boy requesting for food by my balcony

“Hungry by my Balcony” / Nauru 2008 [Republic of Nauru, Central Pacific]: I stayed in Nauru for about a month in 2008 in a hotel called Menen which sits just a few meters away from the raging waters of the Pacific. I usually had breakfast at the balcony of my ground floor room which enjoys a good view of the ocean.  This boy approached me one day asking for food and, after a sandwich, a glass of juice, and a sigh of thanks; he casually went back to swimming in the rocky beach.