This photo was taken in the schoolyard of a preschool in Ta Van, near Sa Pa, Vietnam. After a simple breakfast in their classroom, the children were lining up for early morning exercises led by their teacher. The little girl whose shoes say “Yes” and “No” cannot speak or read English or Vietnamese; she speaks only her local dialect. She is quite color coordinated (for someone under six years old) and her socks match each other, unlike those of the children around her. The most popular shoes we saw in the area, worn by all ages, are the tan slip-ons.
This photo was taken on October 23, 2016, in Green Spring Gardens, a public park in Alexandria, Virginia, with a Canon EOS Rebel SL1. Specs are ISO 100, f/8, 1/13 sec, 55 mm. This fallen tree appears to have the beak and eye of a large bird. The eye color is created by green leaves seen through a large knothole.
This costumed character was photographed at the Pushkar Camel Fair in October, 2014. We believe that she (or he?) represents the Hindu black goddess Kali, worshiped in India especially in South India, Bengal, and Assam. Kali is a manifestation of the terrible goddess Durga, who is herself the dark side of the goddess Devi (wife of Shiva).
There are many stories, or traditions, about Kali’s origin and behavior. In one version, the baby heads hanging from her neck represent the heads of demons she killed and ate. In a Bengali version, they are the decapitated heads of children.
This character is also showing attributes of Durga: many arms and the bowl to hold the blood of those she has killed. In this case, the bowl conveniently holds tips.
While we frequently see costumed street artists in European cities, this creative, multi-facilitated presentation was extraordinary and well worth capturing in a photograph.
(With apologies for any inaccuracies in describing Hindu traditions)
Last October, we were standing on the steps of Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Montmartre, Paris, preparing to walk out into the rain again, fiddling with the umbrella.
Suddenly, I heard “Look at the Frenchman with the big head and the baguette.”
“Where?” I said. “What Frenchman?”
It took too long to spot what was obviously a very large head topped with a beret. We never figured out why he was there. Perhaps he was selling portraits with himself. Perhaps he was advertising a nearby restaurant. As the photo shows, no one (except us) took any notice. It’s hard to compete with the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.