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Delivering Street Portraits on Christmas Day

My original plan was to go out and do some street photography on Christmas morning. Christmas isn’t a holiday in Taiwan so everyone was in work and I had the morning to myself. The weather was raining on and off, though, and I didn’t like to idea of the scooter ride to the place I had planned to go, so instead I decided to deliver some of the street portraits I had recently printed out.

I don’t often do street portraits, or I don’t plan to, the conditions have to be perfect – most importantly I have to be in the right mood to actually ask someone if I can take their photo, and then have the chat that usually follows. I don’t mind chatting, but a lot of the time I want to keep to myself and thoughts when out with the camera.

There had been two 4 x 6″ printouts of street portraits stuck above my monitor for over a month, so it seemed like a good opportunity to give them out. The people had no idea I had printed them out, or that they would ever see me again, so I wasn’t sure what their reaction would be.

The first person was easy to find. He is a fish monger at an indoor market not far from my place. He seemed happy to receive the photo, and thanked me. He said something like “good shot” (in Chinese), to which I replied “good pose”. The indoor market is a good place for photos so I took advantage and spent some time playing with my Ricoh GR.

The second photo I took of an elderly woman during a celebration at a temple in the WuJia district of Kaohsiung in November. They told me that the celebration was for the god 黑面濟公 (Hēi miàn jìgōng), though I can’t find much information about it.

I went back to the temple where I took the photo but there wasn’t anyone there, so I asked in the hair salon a few doors down. A woman from the salon got me in touch with a neighbour, and then a relative, of the woman. It turned out she was at another temple a few blocks away (there are lots of temples in Taiwan). I found the temple and then asked a woman there if she knew the person in the photo. She gave me a confused look and then said “that’s my mother-in-law”, before taking me to meet her. The old woman at first didn’t seem to recognise me but then she saw the photo and smiled. I thanked her for letting me take her photo and then got back on my scooter and left.

After the experience I’d be more inclined to shoot street portraits in the future. The happy reaction of the people receiving their photos really made my day and I had a smile all the way back home.

About the author dave

I'm a web developer and photographer from the UK living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I shoot with a Canon 650D and a Ricoh GR.

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