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



  1. Jon: This might be some of your best work yet!

    1. Thank you, that comment coming from you means a lot.

  2. Very nice photography CCjon! I applaud your courage in overcoming the fear you mention.

    1. Thank you, glad you enjoyed the pics

  3. Back in 2015 when I began learning photography, a man in NYC threatened me with bodily harm if I took his picture. I was actually trying to capture a sign, but in his mind he thought I was trying to take his pic. lol

    1. Kolfa, I hope you are still out there capturing the NY streets. Where can I see some of your work?

    2. I haven't taken pics in NYC for a couple of years. Spent 5 months in Puerto Rico last year, and may be moving there sometime this year. My favorite pictures are on this link.

    3. Kofla, you have some great images there. Well done! Thinking to live in San Juan? I started my journey to learn Spanish in Arecibo, PR many years ago.


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