Sunday, April 8, 2012

30 Days of Photographs II: A Stranger

I was at the bar, having a drink with a couple of friends when I spotted this guy. He was missing two front teeth; you could see it when he laughed. The beer slid down easily and refills were plentiful. Every time his team scored on TV, he cheered, giving the rest of the bar a nice little show. After the third beer, his laughter turned silent, became an occasional smile. By the fourth beer his happy look had turned weary, his eyes tired. By the fifth beer his head grew heavy and his sight grew dim, and slowly, he put down the pint, while I picked up the camera.

This post is a part of the 30 Days of Photographs II challenge. Please visit the rest of the participants for more fantastic photos: MikeWJ, Nicky and Mike, Mo, Meleah, John, aka nonamedufus, Bryan, aka Unfinished Person, Mariann, Malisa, Nora, LaughingMom, Tanya, Elizabeth A., 00dozo, Cheryl, Kristen and Katherine. *


  1. I've stared at this photo for a long, long time. I imported it to my
    iPad, blew it up, explored every corner of it, starting at the center.
    And here's what I've concluded: I believe this is the best photograph
    I've seen in my lifetime. I don't mean in this competition, I mean since
    I was born. Keep in mind that I've been keenly interested in
    photography since I was a little kid, and that I've been a newspaper and
    magazine editor for decades. I've looked at a lot of photographs,
    probably thousands of them, including some that were very good, even

    But none were better than this. Let me attempt to explain why without writing a book.

    First, the composition is flawless. The subject is exactly where he
    should be, at or near the center of the frame, just as he appears to be
    at the center of the action. He's also perfectly lit, almost as if you
    had special lights set up just for the moment, which is, of course,

    Second, your editing of the photo is brilliant. You didn't over-saturate
    his shirt or skin tones, but you clearly de-saturated everything around
    him just enough to focus the eye on what's important, but also in way
    that forces you to study the expressions on the faces of the "ghosts"
    all around him.

    Third, your technical skill with the camera is amazing. This was clearly
    taken in a bar, and it had to have relatively dark. But instead of
    using a flash, which would've destroyed the image, you held --
    hand-held, I assume -- the camera for what had to be a very long time
    because the other people in the shot are blurred. And yet he's totally
    in focus.

    Fourth, and most important, you captured an intensely personal moment.
    What looks like a very sad or tired moment. A broken moment in a man's
    life. That alone would be impressive, but the happy, active expressions
    of the other people in the shot emphasize his mood, set it apart in a
    way that forces the viewer to think about what it means.

    Ziva, I bow before your artistic gift, and declare you the champion of
    this non-competition. Not that I'm in charge of declaring a champion,
    especially in a competition in which there are no winners or prizes, but
    it's an incredible photograph, a remarkable work of art, and anybody
    who disagrees with me will find their Internet cut off within 24 hours.

    I break my camera over my knee, and surrender it to you. I'd quit this
    thing, in fact, but I'm not only not a quitter, but also a glutton for

  2. This is an amazing photo, Ziva. A wondrous use of your gear and skills. I am in awe and humbled by all that you've managed to capture in this simple yet complex shot. 

  3. Ziva, please stop!  I don't want to see into this man's heart!

    Sheesh.  Nice work, Ziva.

  4. Even though I think Mike is a major ass-kisser, I do think this is a great photo, the second best one today, next to Mike's. :)

  5. Wow, second best one today, huh? Thanks.

  6. Thank you, Reffie, I'm really glad you liked it, even with the heart thing and all.. ;)

  7. Okay, okay. It's a tie between  you and Mike. :) How's that for ass-kissing? ;)

  8. Hah,you are so eloquent, my gorgeous Nicky.

  9. Thank you, Cheryl! I spent most of the night watching that guy. Some might call it a little creepy, but I found him absolutely fascinating. ;)

  10. Wow. If there were an award for the best comment in the history of blogs, this might be it. Although, you did kind of violate the 250-word rule. ;)

    Seriously, though, I have no idea what to say. Coming from such an amazing photographer as yourself, this is just overwhelming. Thank you.

    Although, I don't think you should surrender that camera just yet, you know perfectly well that most days your photo is ten times better than mine, and if anyone should be surrendering their camera to the other, it should be me, to you. Your photo today was simply amazing.

  11. Great photo!  The guy might not like it, but it's a great capture of a slice of life!

  12. You win. That's it, let us all stop know and declare Ziva supreme champion. This is such an amazing photo that I am at a loss for words (unlike Mike). You win. Period.

  13. Oh, you're sneaky. I think the guy was probably a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

  14. Technically, Ziva, he didn't violate the 250-word rule since that rule only applies to posts, not comments (you might have thought to close that loophole).


  15. Um, what Nicky said.

    Seriously, it's a fantastic photo!


  16. Perfect! You're almost as good at this ass-kissing thing as Michael is.  ;)

  17. I only took a small slice, and I gave it back to him when I was done with it. ;)

  18. Ziva, Supreme Champion, I like it. Seriously, though, Mike might have exaggerated a little, but I'm still very glad you liked it. :)

  19. Sneaky? Little innocent me? Never!

  20. Dammit! But see, I make the rules and.. well screw it. Comments, especially comments praising me, can be any length. ;)

  21. Seriously, though, now that I look at this again and a little closer, this is an amazing photo. I actually am amazed by everyone's photos during this challenge.

  22. Thank you, Bryan. :) Mike's photo was pretty amazing, too, though, and the poor guy deserves to win once in a while, right? ;)

    I can't tell you how fun this has been so far, seeing all the amazingly creative things people come up with, you included. :) I'm very happy we decided to share the challenge with everyone this time.

  23. Wow what a GREAT shot... you are VERY good at photography.  And at capturing a moment in writing.  I felt I was there watching him, from start to finish. Hope he had a ride home! :)

  24. Wonderful. The blurred passersby make it even better. Photo is publishable, I hope you woke him up and asked him permission to make some serious dough.

  25. What an excellent photo. What's crazy is that while I'm looking at your photo, I'm posing exactly like he is. Except my eyes are open.

  26. Thank you so much, Katherine, you say the nicest things. :) I hope he had a ride home, too, I left before he did, and by the time I left, he seemed really, really tired..

  27. I'm glad you liked it, Mo. :) I don't know about publishable, though.. I did not wake the poor man up, he was clearly exhausted from all the heavy pint-lifting he'd been doing. ;)

  28. Oh, I knew he seemed familiar! It was you, wasn't it?

  29. amazing photo. Seriously amazing. Everything Mike said. He nailed it to a tee. Amazing. 

  30. This photo is TOTALLY SUPER AWESOME.

    Although, I kinda wished you had him with his mouth open so I could see his missing front teeth! 

  31. Thank you Meleah, I'm so glad you liked it! I did have one photo of him with his mouth open, but sadly, it was a little too blurry. ;)

  32. Hah,you are so eloquent, my gorgeous Nicky.

  33. Wow, second best one today, huh? Thanks. ;)



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