Auld Lang Syne Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 1, this is a subject (people I have photographed) that merits much more attention than just a few images so bear with me; I’m not finished.

It would be so simple to photograph nothing but faces in India. This handsome man drew my attention because of his pink turban. The color and type of turban an Indian wears often has some significance but for as much as I’ve searched I’ve only been able to discover that a pink one is generally used for weddings. I don’t think this fellow was coming from a ceremony of any kind but he was in the city of Jaipur, which is known as the “Pink City” for the color of most of its architecture. So perhaps he’s just conforming to the city’s color code? Or maybe they have a Pink Wednesday at the office?!

Shelli G. is a Boise phenomenon. She founded an organization called “Women Ignite” and that probably tells you what you need to know about her. I started seeing her on my Instagram feed and knew right away I would like to photograph her. The excuse to do so came when I began putting together my “Gallery” of notable Boiseans a few years ago, of which she was one of the first. I was right – she’s a natural!

Papantla, Vera Cruz, Mexico

This young man is one of the famed “Hombres Voladores” or “Flying Men” of Papantla, Vera Cruz. I took this photo about 50 years ago and the ancient tradition is still practiced, probably more than ever. A sturdy wooden pole about 100 feet tall with a small platform on top is raised and secured. A number of musicians and dancers do their thing around it on the ground and then five men climb to the top. One of them stands on the small platform and beats a drum and plays a flute while dancing on the very small platform. That in itself would be enough to make me freeze! (See video below.) The four others tie a rope around their waists and then launch themselves to the ground, each following the other, descending in an ever increasing circle. It all looked pretty dangerous to me but this time they landed intact, just in time to be recorded for posterity by the odd gringo.

Denise Molenta, Baguio, Philippines

In the late ’70s I was an active member of the Pacific Area Travel Association. One of the advantages as such was the opportunity to meet the professionals of airlines and government tourist organizations of all the countries of the Pacific Rim. When offered the opportunity to lead a group of travel agents on a tour of the Philippines, what else was I going to say but “Yes, please!” So for two weeks I and my agent friends were guests of the country. This was no leisure trip – they kept us moving and experiencing everything we could possibly fit into our very limited and tightly scheduled itinerary. I learned a lot about the country and its people and of course, took a lot of photos, but what I really learned was to never again be in charge of and responsible for a bunch of travel agents. It was like herding cats and it seemed like I was forever trying to find and round up someone in order to make it to the next site. One of those sites was the popular resort city of Baguio high in the mountains north of Manila. We were shown a bit of the city and the features of the best hotel, which was our host. In charge of entertaining us was Denise Molenta, the beautiful lady above. I had my eyes on her immediately but was given little opportunity to strike up more than a cursory conversation. It was just an overnighter so we had to get up earlier and head back to Manila early the next day. The bus was waiting, fired up and ready to go, and for first time every one of those agents was in their seats, all waiting for me. Where was I? I had convinced Denise to sit for a portrait which took longer than I reckoned on. So for once I was the one who had to be rounded up. But was it worth it? I think so.

Brothers outside a local market, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

This was taken on my first visit of several to Quetzaltenango (Xelajú in local venacular, pron. shaylahu) and it was to become my favorite Guatemalan city. As a matter of fact Guatemala quickly became my favorite country in Central America. The people of the highlands are mainly Quiché Maya, a beautiful and much put upon race who have managed to maintain intact much of their culture despite years of persecution and abuse. At least that was how it felt more than 50 years ago when I took this photo!

Bulgaria, Vidin, Two Sisters Sitting in Front of St. Dimitar’s Orthodox Cathedral

Vidin is a beautiful town on the Bulgarian stretch of the Danube and we had a pleasant visit there about a decade ago. One more time, I couldn’t help myself but take a photo of these two Bulgarian beauties. My guess is they are sisters. I would guess the one on the left is more than capable of taking care of herself while her sister looks like the sweet one. Some time ago I found a painting by Wladyslaw Benda, a Polish-American illustrator of the early 20th century, that depicted a Slavic princess that was a dead ringer for these two, making me think that they are classics of their race. I have tried several times to find that piece of art but to no avail, otherwise you’d see what I mean!

A Mazatecan mother and daughter outside their home near the city of Oaxaca, Mexico

Just before leaving Mexico City in 1976, a friend, Sven Doehner, invited me down to his hacienda outside of Oaxaca for Good Friday and Easter. He was having a lot of work done on his house and the foreman of the crew doing it lived on the outskirts of the city. Sven took us with him to drop by the man’s house (with a 6-pack) and meet him and his family. While there, we had a very interesting experience while sitting around the family table. The bells of the Cathedral pealed, announcing the crucifixion of Christ. Everyone at the table became silent as a cold wind blew through the house and clouds covered the sun, leaving us in darkness. The Indians muttered prayers and crossed themselves, the conversation not resuming until the clouds passed and the light returned. The lady pictured above was the foreman’s wife and she graciously allowed me to take a formal portrait of her.

Another really interesting thing happened around this photo last year. I received an email from a girl in Chicago telling me the woman in the photo was her grandmother and she’d never seen a picture of her before. She knew this because the little girl is her mother. They had seen the photo on my website. Small world!

Believe it or not, I have not yet exhausted this theme. Bear with me!

The Voladores took their show all the way to Glastonbury!
This entry was published on February 21, 2022 at 1:28 pm. It’s filed under Boise, Boise, Bulgaria, Danube, Guatemala, headshots, Idaho, kids, Mexico, People, photography, Portraits and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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