two faces of a man

February 19, 2015 - single portrait

when i entered the spice and gold shouk of deira, dubai, i came for photography. the light was already low and created beautiful lightfalls between the stands and through the roofs punctuated with holes, the colors were vibrant. i also came for the people. people on markets always appear to have plenty of time to talk, because it takes time to convince even the stupidest tourist of the indispensability of souvenirs. and i came for buying a certain kind of clothes i liked. therefore i entered one of these very small shops that are always horribly lit-up by vulgar bright fluorescent lamps for buying not for taking a picture. but things changed quickly when i met husain.

of course he made work on selling me as many pants as possible. he found more and more colors and fabric and pattern and whatever. but besides of that he was also interested in my camera, a zenza bronica s2a, i had with me this day, which is really a big, fat, heavy, noisy beast. and after a while when he also understood that i am not his most generous (or stupid) costumer this day we started to talk about photography and life in dubai. husain astonishingly was born in the u.a.e. normally you don’t meet many citizens in this kind of business, and that he was born from an arab family i honestly doubt. but he showed the typical impressive and applaudable pride of arab people. he not only appeared to not working for money but for fun and because he liked to talk with young ladies from europe but he stated explicitly, which he did with so much charme and smiled with teeth so bright that they almost beamed in neon light. i was just in the mood to believe him, because he was so very much convincing and such a charming, polite and flirty young man. he was in his 20s what i found hard to believe but which explains why he was so much fascinated by analog photography.

not i asked him for a portrait – the light was too horrible to make me to wish for taking one – he asked me and i naturally didn’t want to reject him. the second i adjusted the camera and started to focus he postured and stopped smiling as if he never knew what smiling is. it was like he was another person. he from one second to the other appeared like as he was the most serious man i ever met with an almost scary closed face. i took the image though, but i actually was very dissapointed. i asked him if he wouldn’t smile for me and when this question made him laugh i snapped again.

i sent him both pictures via email. unfortunately he never replied and so i didn’t receive word if he liked the one or the other picture better. i like both and who am i to make a decision on which reflects his personality the best? i only tell a story.

› tags: 100strangers / analog / arabia / dubai / film photography / kodak portra 160 / medium format / photography / portrait / uae / zenza bronica s2a /


  1. so nice story and beautiful portraits !
    i hope that he got your mail and loved himself smiling and just posing

  2. I just imagined all the story and situation, great one ( I mean two) Trill . Very live story and images !

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