Faces of Kiunga

August 2012. Portraiture intrigues me.  The subject’s eyes and “catch light” —  one major factor that gives life to a portrait — enchant me. Strong facial contours and expressions are like magnets to my camera lens.  How successfully I capture these elements are a totally different matter. Here are a few attempts while walking around Kiunga, Western Province, Papua New Guinea.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

He was one of the very few men selling goods at the Kiunga market. He was arranging peanuts into neat piles when I interrupted to take his photo. I sincerely liked the intense character he projected in this portrait.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Noticing that I was taking photos of people at Kiunga market, she approached me and asked if I could take their photo. She explained later in good English that she was with her mother and her younger sister.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

I found a guy in another part of the market selling a bow without arrows then I found this man selling spears and arrows without a bow. He quickly posed with his wares when I asked for a photo.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Apparently an “urbanite”, she was a bit snobbish when I approached her for a photo but quickly changed her mood when my camera started clicking.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

I don’t know if she was selling something or was just hanging out in Kiunga market but she quickly agreed to be photographed. I still have to figure out what those dots on her face meant.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

He was selling this poor gentle possum in a roughly woven cage. I can’t tell him how I pitied the creature and why I think it should be set free as I know that he was (and has been) doing this for his own survival.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Her mother was selling indigenous plant fiber for knitting while she was doing some knitting herself behind her mother. I asked her to continue knitting while I took photos but she insisted to pose like this with her half-done work.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

I found her walking slowly on the street of Kiunga, bent forward and struggling with a heavy bag with its strap slung on her head. She briefly paused for this photo then gradually continued with her long journey home.

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I now know that my personal style is more suitable for “man-on-the-street” type of portraiture, compared to those done in the studio or in highly contrived settings.  I feel — and this is my personal bias — that “man-on-the-street” portraits are more authentic, more telling of the true character of the person and, to me, that’s what portraits are all about.

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