Thursday, February 15, 2024

Barbudos de Castilla y León (Spanish Bearded Men)

Barbudos de Castilla y León
Bearded Spanish Men of Castile and León)


The greatest obstacle to taking great street portraits is not gear, training, or even opportunity. It is something larger, more petrifying, more difficult to confront… that overwhelming dread that stunts us, that holds us back from realizing our potential…  our fear of rejection!


As humans we all fear rejection, What if they say No?  What if they get mad… even yell?  What if…what if.. what if… and the world moves on as we stew.


Our natural inclination is to shy away from asking complete strangers on the street if we can take their picture. There will be no rejection if we never ask. But then how will we ever get better?


W. Clement Stone, a well-known motivational speaker, said, “Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.” That action was what I was determined to take in 2023. Once and for all conquer my fear of asking strangers for their photo.

***   ***   ***


Last Fall in Spain, three men told me No when I asked to take their picture. The next one hundred and ninety men agreed or did not stop me from taking their photograph. What you see here today are select images from those one hundred and ninety that resulted by taking action to conquer an old fear.


Some are young men with dark beards, others older gentlemen with grey hairs shining through. Some men stopped and posed for a photograph while other images were caught as the men carried on their daily business. In all, this distinguished group represents a portion of the real men of Spain, no actors, no models, no politicians, no fake machismo. All real and admirable.

The bearded men targeted for a photo were those who displayed pride in their facial hair. Making it easy to quickly exclude those who looked like they had forgotten to shave for a week. Clean shaven men and ladies were ignored. Next time ladies...
These Spanish men were accepting and open to being photographed by a stranger in the street. The overall experience was positive and meeting so many wonderful people in Valladolid was enjoyable. I can highly recommend that any street photographer should experience firsthand the welcoming nature of the Spanish people.  

These images captured a thread of a story about the rich visual heritage and culture 
of the Spanish men with beards. Take a look...

...starting with the younger men...

Men with that seafaring look...
though we are far from the sea.

His red beard...

Coffee break for the businessman...

The barber from Bilbao....

Bicycles are common on the pedestrian streets...

Jealous of their flowing locks of hair...

His daily bread...

The bakery chef...

Smoking is still common in Spain...

El abuelo (grandfather)...

Best of friends for many years...

The professor...

If you recognize any of these men, let them know I kept my word.
 Their images are now published for the world to see. 

Obviously, I could not use all 190 images.  Nevertheless, these represent a varied cross-section of the wonderful bearded men I met. These photos will be included in a showing this Fall in Houston.

I plan to return once more to Valladolid in northern Spain for a different photography challenge. 
Maybe we'll meet over a cup of coffee.

Ride safe, ride long


Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Favorite Photos of 2023

Two thousand and twenty-three was both an interesting and challenging year. I had committed myself to only use a black and white camera for twelve months starting in October of 2022. However I still used my iPhone now and then when a camera was not available or when a color image was called for. 

By focusing on black & white, or monochrome images, I forced myself to improve my skills in seeing shapes, lines, forms and texture. All of which are builkding blocks for making a better, stronger image.
In all, am satisfied with the photos captured and the improvements made in 2023.

Now lets see the results, start with a few color images.
Only two photos in the final selection had no people in them. Of late, I tend to photograph people I encountered on the street or at some event. Many strangers will posed for me if asked in a polite way, and others were captured without their knowledge when an opportunity presented itself. Now and then again I'll photograph a landscape or create a travel photo, such as...

 Old Wooden Pier
Seal Beach, CA

and then it's back to... people.
Hempstead Cowboy

Mexican Vaquero
Hempstead, TX

F. Fellini Family Matriarch

Young and Old
Valladolid, Spain

Five thirty AM, where is my choir?
Hempstead, TX

Political Street Demonstration
Plaza Major, Spain

Five O'clock somewhere... Street Cafe
Valladolid, Spain

A tribute to Edward Hopper, 
Spanish Nighthawks
Valladolid, Spain

Hot Havana Nights

Five AM Prayer Time
Hempstead, Texas

Now we get into the monochrome photos.

White Sands Solitude
New Mexico

Small Town Taxi

Young Love
Havana Cuba

Cooling Off
Havana, Cuba

Building Tobacco Drying Shed
Valle Viñales, Cuba

Adapting the new to the old, Oxen Cart
Valles Viñales, Cuba

Childhood Memories
Central Texas

Street and Model Portraits

Red Beard
Valladolid, Spain

Sister Sister
Valldolid, Spain

French Chef
Valladolid, Spain

Retired and Happy
Burgos, Spain

Havana, Cuba

Street Performer
Havana, Cuba

Aspiring Model
Houston, Texas

Jerry Brown, Photographer
Fayetteville, Texas

Juergen, a German Businessman
Havana, Cuba

Porkpie Hat Blows Jazz
Valladolid, Spain

Havana Social Club

Popular Cuban Entertainer
Havana, Cuba

Salsa Moves the Soul
Havana, Cuba

Dancing in Sync
Havana Social Club

No, No, No
Havana Social Club, Cuba

And those are the ones that made the final cut out of the couple thousand photos taken in 2023. 

In 2024 we return to color photography but still occasionally making B&W prints.

Ride safe, see you on down the road,