There are those situations when I see something and instantly grab my camera, saying, "Steve, don't screw this up." And then there are pictures that don't seem the least bit special when I'm taking them. Only when I get some emotional distance from the place where they were taken do I see how special they are.
This photo was taken in November of 2010 when I accompanied a team of church officials to Nigeria. I was just then getting interested in taking photographs of people; until that point most of my work had been of landscapes and architecture. On the day we arrived in our destination of Jalingo we went to the market to buy gifts. The men in our group were buying fabric for their wives back home in Zimbabwe and the Congo.
I turned in the other direction and saw some curious boys coming to take a peek at the "Bature," the somewhat respectful-but-derogatory word in the local Hausa language for "white man." I pointed at my camera, then at the boys, and made a motion as though I was asking if I could take their pictures. Reluctantly curious, one by one they let me snap a few. Each time I turned the camera around to show them the picture, and this of course encouraged them.
These young boys were not interested in smiling for the camera. I have lots of pics of them looking as tough as they could. But this one has always stood out for me: there's something quite haunting in this boy's eyes. Beautiful, but haunting.
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