Faces underground

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  • This photograph wasn’t going to be today’s picture. I had visited a Chinese Buddhist temple and had at least three good pictures from there that would have been great. But then this picture presented itself to me.

    I snapped the picture while on the MRT here in Singapore. I’d just boarded the subway at Outram Park and as I sat down I noticed the old man with the grumpy expression staring into nothing, just rocking slightly with the motion of the train.

    I’ll be honest here, I thought his expression was funny. He looked like the grumpiest man I’d ever seen, so I decided to take a sneaky picture so I could share it with a friend via email. It was as simple as that, no great thought, no careful set up or composition. I just placed the camera on my knee and tried to take the picture without anyone noticing. As soon as I had done that the train reached Tanjong Pagar where I got off.

    Later on, after preparing the photographs of the Buddhist temple, I quickly grabbed this picture to send it to my friend. Only then did I really look at it. What at first had been a simple throw away snapshot for giggles, now seemed far more intriguing.

    Of course the old man looks interesting, leading me to wonder if he really is grumpy and what he might have done for a living. But then there are the other people, all looking away avoiding eye contact in the way people do on public transport.

    What had initially been a throw away photograph, headed for email then the trash, now seemed much more interesting than those pictures from the Buddhist temple. They were appealing enough, but this scene invites you to do more than just look, because it doesn’t so much tell a story as much as it suggests one.

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  • 3 comments on “Faces underground

    1. That old man’s facial expression is due to the simple fact of him having no teeth at all and for some reason not being able to get replacements (perhaps he can’t afford it). There is nothing funny about this situation.

      • Sure there is. The old bloke looks well grumpy! I think Ill probly end up looking like him if I have to spend the rest of my working life riding the london tube in trains that are never on time and often smell of wee! Maybe hes been had off by the tooth fairy and hes got no nashers but its just as likely that hes a bloke from Lambeth in singapore on his jollies.

        • To be clear, I am not presenting this picture for it’s humor. Yes, I snapped the shot because I found the old mans grumpy expression amusing, but I decided to use the picture because I felt that there is more to it and my initial impression.

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