About face

What draws us into some faces more than others?

Is it the smile or the frown or the wrinkles or the eyes that magnetize our attention and forge a memory with a longer shelf life.

I realize now that I have long been a collector of faces. The beauty of a distant land or my own home state may captivate me, but a region’s facial landscapes become the landmarks that I remember.

Desert granny

I’m drawn to the imperfect face more often than not. Given a choice between airbrushed smooth or wind-chapped worn, I’ll choose weathered skin every time except when I look into the mirror. Lacquered under SPF 60, I prowl across deserts in thirsty lands looking for rugged faces marked by time and the elements.

“You have a good face,” I told an Aboriginal woman on a train ride through the center of Australia.

“I’ll trade you,” she answered.

When I stare at these faces, I remember their stories. The grandmother proud of her grandchildren and disappointed a bit when the toddler hid her sweet face. The girl who convinced me to follow her deep into a village so I could meet her blind grandfather. I gave her a small bottle of lotion to rub on her wind-chapped cheeks, but when I turned to look back at her from the top of the trail, I saw she was slathering it on her grandfather’s hands.

Sometimes, I never discover the story of the faces so I make something up in nursery rhyme fashion.

“This old man. He sings songs. He sings songs all day long …”

“There was a man whose hair was icky. He dropped what he was doing and went to see Dicky.” (Blame Kalyani Black Label for that one.)

In a world full of passersby, photography tethers me for a moment and sometimes forever to people with familiar stories of hope and fear and sadness and happiness.

Some people call it taking pictures of strangers. I call it crowdsourcing for common ground.


4 thoughts on “About face

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  1. This is a lovely set of pictures, and I think you’ve really captured the appeal of portraits. And ‘crowdsourcing for common ground’ may be my new favourite expression!

  2. Fantastic images. So many stories in the lines of an aged face and so much hope and promise in the smooth cheeks of youth. Thanks for visiting my blog…it’s given me the wonderful opportunity to discover yours.

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