04 August 2017

Sporting a Pious Beard

Facial hair is hair grown on the chin, cheeks, and upper lip region, and it’s not something to trifle with. However, beards and moustaches are a vestigial trait from a time when humans had hair on their face and entire body. Interestingly enough, some faiths require the removal of facial hair whilst others do not. Many religions do encourage or require their men to keep beards. Why do God and his (!) servants like facial hair so much? Maybe because it’s supposed to represent manliness, virility and power since it’s an important secondary sex characteristic of the human male...

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(i) Sikhism has considered a full beard to be absolutely essential for all males able to grow one, and mandate it as part of their official dogma. Sikhs believe that hair is a natural form as created by God. As a result, cutting hair is forbidden in Sikhism for those who have taken the amrit initiation ceremony. Hair is part of god’s creation to Sikhs, and is therefore sacred. Sikhs believe honouring God includes never shearing any hair on their body. Doing so would mar the perfection of God’s creation, they believe.

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(ii) In Islam, the Quran does not prescribe beards for Muslims, but the hadith (the collected sayings of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh) describes Muhammad pbuh as ordering his followers to wear beards: “Differ from the polytheists: let your beard (grow), and trim your moustache,” the hadith reads. Trimming the moustache is considered to be a sunnah and mustahabb, that is, a way of life that is recommended, especially among Sunni Muslims.

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(iii) In Hinduism, many sadhus have long beards, as they are not permitted to own anything, which would include a razor. The scruffy, unkempt beard is also a sign of their nomadic and ascetic lifestyle.

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(iv) The male members of the Rabari people, a pastoralist community and scheduled tribe in the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, grow friendly mutton chops and mighty (handlebar) moustaches. They take great pride in their facial hair; in fact it is the fountain hood of their very maleness and a mark of their virility. The Rabari myth of origin is that Shiva put them on earth to tend to the camels owned by Parvati. Their religion is often a mix of Hinduism and Animism.

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(v) In (Theravada) Buddhism, monks follow the vinaya rules about hair and always completely shave their head and beard, showing their commitment to the holy/monastic life. The monastic ordination ceremonies of all schools of Buddhism include head shaving; the beard is perceived as an unnecessary feature and is also removed.

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20 July 2017

Fantasising about Masked Beauties

A new fashion trend has emerged all over India (and Nepal). The niqab or religious veil, often demonised in the West, is proving to be a boon for young non-Muslim woman on the Indian subcontinent. They like to cover their heads, save for the eyes, with cloth wraps which look from a distance very similar to Islamic face veils. Only, this secular version of the traditional niqab is often much more colourful and its striking patterns seem to be more brash and trendy.

However, the underlying psychological principle obviously is still the same, religious or secular: Less is More. An amorous pass and the first steps of communication are much easier and straight to the point since the eyes are known as the autobahn to the female soul (...unless they are hidden behind sunglasses). All subconscious secondary facial expressions (e.g. frowning, scrunching up one’s nose, pulling down the corners of one’s mouth) which can be a deterrent can easily be ignored, at least for the time being. Eyes are not only the means to see this world, but they are also the way through which we can see the heart. Of course, humans wouldn’t be humans (and women not women), without the application of oh-so-reasonable psychological rationalisations such as using the trendy designer scarves for the sole purpose of protection from pollution, wind and sun... It sounds so nice, wise and prudent, doesn’t it?

By the way, the desired focus on those talkative Indian and Nepalese eyes seems to be top-priority to the head-covering girls and young women even at the risk of punishment: Indian police banned head coverings ten years ago as a way to combat terrorism. Fortunately, the most beautiful thing about eyes is that they never lie...

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"The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter,
often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter,
in the eye."

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"I like you; your eyes are full of language."
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Apart from the more fashion-based focus on beautiful eyes there are also religion-based versions (preferably in black) and health-based versions (preferably in white) of the above-mentioned rationalisation which certainly work just as well. Anyway, eyes do matter as one can see below...

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One final thought. Perhaps the female face veil/mask acts just as psychological counterbalance to the male full beard. Who's to say...

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Portrait photographs about talkative female eyes in Matt Hahnewald's

30 June 2017

Animating Street Portraits with Props

Originally, a prop, fka (theatrical) property, is an object used on stage or on screen by actors during a performance or screen production. In practical terms, a prop is considered to be anything movable or portable on a stage or a set, distinct from the actors, scenery, costumes, and electrical equipment. The term comes from live-performance practice, especially theatrical methods, but its modern use extends to film, television, and photography.

A simple yet highly effective way to animate and spice up an interactive aka posed street portrait is to use impromptu props in the scene. An impromptu prop for interactive portrait photography would be anything that the subject holds or touches and/or something near the subject that adds to the story and dimension of the image. Using props that mean a great deal and are highly personal to the subject, such as below the Buddhist prayer wheel, Mao’s Little Red Book, or the Sadhu’s walking stick, can make the portrait more unique and tell a story about that person.

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people; Chinese people; Chinese man; portrait; street portrait; headshot; South China; Yunnan province; Kunming; Mao's little red book; close up

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; psychological; amazing; spectacular; outstanding; fantastic; favourite; superior; excellent; magnificent; interesting; inspirational; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50mm lens; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; street; portraiture; closeup; headshot; full-face view; outdoor; sunshine; high noon sun; colour; colourful; cultures; cultural; character; personality; real people; human head; human face; human eyes; facial expression; eye contact; full beard; tied beard; turban; red-checkered headwrap; consent; empathy; rapport; encounter; travel; travel portrait; Indian man; beggar; Puri; Orissa; East India; one person; male; adult; posing; authentic; focused; rugged; manly; seriousUsing props in portrait photography is a simple way to create a strong point of interest in the image. Props can complement the subject and make the picture more visually appealing. Props help to tell a story, producing a more intriguing photo for the viewer to look at. Cell phones, flowers, umbrellas/parasols, cigarettes/cigars, books/newspapers, food/drinks, musical instruments, cameras and pretty much anything else that the subject can lay her/his hands on will make a good impromptu prop for interactive aka posed street portraits.


Examples of street portraits "propped-up" with cell phones:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; face perception; physiognomy; dynamic; lively; outstanding; favourite; superior; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50mm lens; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; street; portraiture; half-length portrait; closeup; three-quarter view; purple; outdoor; colour; world cultures; character; personality; real people; human head; forehead; human face; bindi; human eyes; gold nose jewellery; gold nose ring; teeth; facial expression; eye contact; right hand; making a phone call; calling; cell phone; blanket over head; covered head; body language; consent; empathy; rapport; respect; encounter; emotion; dignity; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; tribal; Hinduism; Rayagada; Orissa; East India; ethnic; one person; Adivasi; old woman; authentic; smiling absent-mindedly; soulful; dignified

Gypsy woman; young woman; Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; outstanding; fantastic; favourite; superior; excellent; vibrant; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50mm; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; outdoor; colourful; world cultures; character; personality; real people; human head; human face; human eyes; facial expression; eye contact; headscarf; consent; rapport; respect; encounter; ethnic portrait; travel; ethnic; tribal portrait; tradition; India; one person; female; authentic; fascinating; emotion; adorable; right hand; henna hands; henna tattoo; cell phone; sunset; warm light; Jaisalmer; Rajasthan; lips; sensual; almond eyes; teeth; smiling; colourful veil; attractive; exotic; charming; incredible; colourful headscarf; posing; fabulous; beautiful; gorgeous; breathtaking

mature woman; Hindu woman; beautiful; bindi; tradition; saree; smiling; friendly; posing; incredible; female; gorgeous; fabulous; attractive; cheerful; happy; attitude; joyous; Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; 50mm; prime lens; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; street portrait; portraiture; headshot; en face; front view; colour; colourful; sunshine; harsh noon sun; world cultures; cultural; character; personality; real people; human; human head; human face; facial expression; bareheaded; consent; empathy; rapport; encounter; emotion; mood; ethnic portrait; travel; travel destination; city dweller; Hinduism; eye contact; eyes; nose stud; big woman; cell phone; right hand




Examples of street portraits "propped-up" with flowers:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; closeup; street portrait; headshot; outdoor; world; cultures; cultural; character; people; adult; ethnic; local; human; face; eyes; eye contact; front view; en face; photography; portrait; portraiture; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; colourful; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal; smiling; posed; incredible; Asia; Southeast Asia; Malaysia; one person; Langkawi; Kuah; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; beautiful; Malay woman; beauty; adorable; beautiful eyes; traditional; Malay bride; white hijab; white wedding dress; female; happy; teeth; bridal bouquet; yellow roses; Malay wedding
Facing the World; Matt Hahnewald; people; closeup; street portrait; Thailand; Bangkok; flower market; flowers; saleslady; flash; 50 mm prime lens

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; outstanding; favourite; superior; excellent; interesting; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50mm; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; street; headshot; en face; front view; natural frame; orange; outside; colour; colourful; world cultures; cultural; character; personality; real people; human; human head; human face; human eyes; facial expression; eye contact; symmetrical; eyeglasses; bouquet of flowers; floral bouquet; Buddhist robe; consent; empathy; rapport; respect; encounter; environmental portrait; tourism; travel; religion; Buddhism; Buddhist monk; orange robe; saffron robe; Theravada Buddhism; tradition; market; Bangkok; Thailand; one person; male; adult; old man; posing; attitude; authentic; smiling; Pak Khlong Talat; Flower Market


Examples of street portraits "propped-up" with cigars, cigarettes, chillums:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50 mm; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; portraiture; street portrait; headshot; en face; front view; outdoor; colour; character; colourful; real people; human; human head; human face; eyes; cap; facial expression; consent; rapport; encounter; emotion; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; Bhaktapur; Nepal; Newari man; old man; Asia; city dweller; Hinduism; traditional; Asian; one person; male; adult; posing; incredible; stubbly; tilaka mark; dhaka topi; Nepali traditional hat; smoking; cigarette; right hand; flowers; eye contact

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; headshot; outdoor; world cultures; cultural; one person; character; people; male; adult; ethnic; horizontal format; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posing; Asia; Southeast Asia; Kalimantan; West Kalimantan; Muslim man; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; travel; tourism; colourful; en face; front view; tradition; teeth; object; depth of field; right hand; gesture; holding cigarette; facial expression; Indonesian man; smoking; cigarette; small goatee; Muslim goatee; relaxing; bare-chested; Pasir Panjang; Indonesia; Islam

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; outdoor; world; cultures; one person; character; people; male; adult; horizontal format; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posing; Muktinath; Manang District; Asia; South Asia; Muktinath Temple; shakti peetha; Nepal; Hinduism; sadhu; Himalayas; Annapurna Circuit; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; trekking; en face; holy man; religious ascetic; gesture; spirituality; one man only; looking at camera; incredible; baba; headshot; ethnicity; sunshine; bokeh; orange turban; smoking; chillum; chillum pipe; ganja; charas; hashish; cannabis; early morning; both hands
Including a prop adds another level for the eye to the process, therefore it is imperative to clean up everything else as much as possible: a tight frame/crop, a clean background/backdrop, and minimal distractions in general. Any prop should always be used to the advantage of portraying the subject. The objects used in the picture should be very convincing for the viewer in understanding the subject; there has to be a reason for the object to appear in the image. This can be done with the help of (i) person-related props, (ii) context-related props, and (iii) time-related props. Of course, the transition from one prop category to the other is gradual.

(i) Person-related props help the viewer to understand the character, personality, mood, attitude and role of the photographed subject:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; outdoor; world cultures; cultural; one person; character; people; male; child; boy; ethnic; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; teeth; smiling; book; reading; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posing; Pokhara; Lakeside; Asia; South Asia; Basundhara Park; Central Nepal; Newari temple; Kedareshwar Mahadev Mani Temple; Hinduism; Sanskrit student; devotee; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; colourful; en face; front view; young philosopher; Hindu; religion; tripundra; Shiva; looking at camera; horizontal format; headshot; ethnicity; vibhuti; Brahmin boy; sikha haircut; hairstyle; shorn; scalplock
(ii) Context-related props help the viewer to learn about the subject’s environment, culture, religion, nationality, and/or occupation:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; outdoor; cultural; one person; character; people; male; adult; ethnic; horizontal format; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; Muktinath; posing; Manang Region; Asia; South Asia; Nepal; young man; Himalayas; Annapurna Circuit; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; trekking; colourful; en face; front view; Gurung man; villager; traditional costume; archery; Mehta Festival; handsome; headshot; hunter; marksman; crack shot; bow and arrow; competition; master shooter; world cultures
(iii) Time-related props help the viewer to fantasize about the subject’s past or future:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; grinning; smiling; street portrait; outdoor; world cultures; cultural; one person; character; people; male; child; boy; ethnic; human; face; eyes; eye contact; bowl; fun; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posing; Pokhara; Lakeside; Asia; South Asia; Basundhara Park; Central Nepal; Newari temple; Kedareshwar Mahadev Mani Temple; Hinduism; Sanskrit student; devotee; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; colourful; en face; front view; young philosopher; Hindu; religion; tripundra; Shiva; looking at camera; horizontal format; incredible; headshot; ethnicity; depth of field; gesture; both hands; holding head in both hands; body language; laughing; vibhuti; Brahmin boy; sikha haircut; hairstyle; shorn; scalplock; pranking; behaving mischievously; codding; kidding around
More blog entries depicting props for street portrait photographs: