Thoughts and Impressions

Street Portraits: Avraham Shein

A portrait of Avraham Shein from Tel Aviv
Street portraits. That’s not something I often do. As a matter of fact, this is is the first time I have done it. It probably won’t be the last time, but I feel it takes some more effort than the normal “catching moments on the street”, for example including a story, or at least a name. I feel that if I am doing a portrait, there needs to be a story added to it, both because a portrait – however nice or interesting it might be, there is more to it than just the portrait, and it wouldn’t be fair to the subject to present his or her portrait, without also telling something about him or her.
In this case I am presenting you for Avraham Shein, a charismatic character I had the pleasure of photographing a couple of days ago.
I met Avraham by coincidence. I was about to take a shot of something else, when he stepped into the frame. When I took the camera down, he asked if I was interested in buying a drawing he made. He’s walking the streets, trying to earn some money by selling his art to people. I had a sudden impulse. No, the art wasn’t what was of interest, at least not the art he had in his hands. I’d rather pay him the money to take a photo of him. As you can see, he has a very characteristic face. And I have to add, it was not what he was selling, which was of bad quality, it was simply that there was something about him, which caught my whole attention. Something that reminded me of my childhood Copenhagen, before Copenhagen became a modern city. When it still was very much a place for the worker and the odd existence. 
We talked a little, Avraham and I. I promised to send him a copy of the portrait for him (I did).  He was very interesting. The guy is 80 years old, walk approximately 20 kilometers pr day, and is in an amazing shape. There has been a documentary made about him, and artists have used him for their paintings. I understand why. 
I liked the meeting. Getting in contact with the subject, getting to know the person, with Avraham. He had a story, and he was a story. To meet him intrigued me, both to get in contact with a stranger, but also to become more intimate with the subject in front of the camera. I have often thought about doing some portrait photography, so maybe this could become my niche – even though I know a lot of other street photographers also are doing it. Who knows, this experience at least made me want to have more.  

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