Wednesday, July 28

Things I Can't Show You

I used to do a lot of people-photographing but nowadays all this bloggy, facebooking, interwebbery inhibits me, not knowing where an image may end up and how it might be used can make the camera an unwelcome intrusion, so mostly I leave it in my bag.

There are so many photos I’d love to take in Sri Lanka; groups of schoolgirls, clustered under umbrellas in the street, their hair in thick black plaits, looking like a flashback to the fifties in impossibly white dresses and ankle socks, I’d also like to snap the men in bright sarongs holding umbrellas, shopping slung around them as they weave between buses on their bicycles.

and there’s the little girl with birds-nest hair dancing on the shop counter in her baggy underwear...

Last time in town I went to buy some sarong fabric. As soon as I walked into the shop the owners called out back to someone to come and see me. A skinny child with enormous eyes and a huge tangled pile of hair peeped from behind the curtain. Initially shy, she was soon showing off and performing dance routines while I shopped. Fabric bought and bagged I asked if I could take a photo, the mother said yes and disappeared so I took a quick snap of the dancing child, said goodbye and was about to go when the mother returned with a set of clothes and a hair brush, she quickly dressed the child and set about taming the hair.

This is the photo I feel that I have permission to use - you’ll just have to imagine other one.


  1. ah what a shame... I'd love to have seen the original

  2. It is food for thought, the ethics of snapping people at random and then using their image to enhance our sites - I'd never really thought about it before. It is lovely that the parents encouraged you to take the photo above though.

    You're in exotic places and I'll shortly be in Kent - how different we are.

  3. "sarong fabric"

    Will you be making yourself one? Pix?

  4. I've never taken a pic of anyone without asking I've missed a lot of good pics...I have used pics at secondhand on the blog through...Carla Bruni, her court jester and her pet pervert...

  5. I know exactly what you mean, I didn't even take pictures of my cousins at the weekend for fear of publishing them. And I have the most fantastic photo of my best friend's two year old dressed in an orange tutu reaching for a bowl of sweets and am itching to show it to everyone.

    The little girl does have enormous eyes and I'd love to have been able to see her with her hair all tangley. I wonder how the producers of holiday brochures and the like are able to publish photographs of colourful locals and lounging tourists; do they have to ask everyone's permission?

  6. Was the dancing girl good for custom, i.e. did you buy more stuff than you had planned to? Still cute, though.

  7. It must have been full of spontaneity and innocence. And yes, she looks cute on the sewing machine table.

  8. Nursey - wonderfully messy like all the best things

    Frenchie - People mostly seem pretty happy to be photographed here

    xl - I might...

    Mrs Fly - that's a drama that's passed me by.

    Eryl Shields - I think that if they're not models the brochure people get pixelated these days.

    Gadjo - she was good for custom, yes I stayed much longer and bought more.

    Leni Qinan - after Gadjo's remark I'm not so sold on the innocence as I was - but yes still cute.

  9. coming from the world of poetry, i see so much poetry in this piece and the way you shared this. the mother wanting to first dress her child before her photo is taken says much and i like the way you didn't say anything more.

  10. Sorry I have not been around. I was astonished to find about 2400 blog entries waiting for me to read on my Bloglines! Anyway, love the image in my head of the little girl dancing on the counter top.


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