From Ulaanbaatar to Greenville, I've asked a lot of people "May I take your portrait". Environmental street portraits make me entirely too happy.
I was trying to photograph the bus I had just disembarked when I found this little boy looking over my shoulder. I asked him what he was doing, and he stated that he was "just looking". I then asked him if he thought I was a little strange taking pictures of the street, and he smiled and said a little. His name was Suhkbaatar and was walking home from school with his sister Otgonzolboo. They graciously allowed me to take their portrait right then and there...
This morning I had to go to my office at the Grain of Wheat Center to make some copies (music again today at CCAN). The Lunar New Year marks the coming of Spring to Mongolia. The traditional greeting is "Are you having a nice Spring?"
The irony of that is that it was -30F when I left my apartment this morning. Nice spring, indeed.
Came across this handsome Mongolian gentleman, dressed in a traditional "Deel" on the way back from my office, and asked to take his portrait. He kindly obliged ... and today's shot is a Mongolian holiday treasure.
Today was the first day of the Spring semester of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at the Grain of Wheat Center. After Renee's class I saw this handsome dude in a traditional Mongolian hat and deel in the hallway.
I asked how his class went, and it seems that it was good first day and that he likes his teacher, as well ...
This is is Bayarbal. His name means "Happiness" ... and with that awesome hat, who wouldn't be happy?
So this young lady allowed me to take her photo while we were having our staff meeting. Therefore, I wanted to also add her to today's picture pool. Her bright smiling face served us up the best pizza in UB.
I didn't catch her name ... and she was a bit shy at first ... but that smile!
Today there was some kind of concert going on at the Mongolian National Wrestling Palace. As I was walking by, the event was letting out and these three guys stepped out for a smoke. I had to stop and ask if I could take their photo.
They agreed. And it was awesome.
The man on the far right is sporting his lifetime achievements on the front of his дээл (Mongolian Traditional Clothing). These men have seen so much over their years. Mongolia is quickly changing, and these guys have lived through it. Life experience may even be more desirable than teeth ... or for some us, as the case may be ... hair.
This is a street portrait of a good looking gentleman I met on the way home from work today. His name Dashen....(something I can't remember). I feel fairly safe in saying that his short name is "Dash" as that is a common name for men here.
The pre-sunset light in Mongolia is absolutely beautiful. This man was crossing the road in that beautiful light, and I had to ask if If could take his portrait. He was surprised, but agreed ... and I am going to print this and give it to him tomorrow or Saturday.
He was pleased.
I was pleased.
A good day.
This young lady was with her friend at "Cornerstone Church of All Nations" today. When I asked if I could take their portrait, they gladly agreed. I had seen them there a few times before. They come to our English Speaking International church, and it's always great to see their smiling faces.
I made one click today. And this is it.
Today I set out to find someone to meet the requirements for the "100 Strangers" portion of this project. I was a little bummed that I was once again running up against a wall. I almost asked one guy who looked most interesting, but also seemed to be a little drunk. I didn't want to deal with the consequences of asking a drunk guy to take his photo. So I was a little discouraged.
Then this awesome couple crossed my path.
This is Munkhuu (the Grandpa) and Yanjimaa (the Grandma) dressed up so nicely in their traditional Mongolian дээл.
I couldn't have been more happy with this capture.
Today I walked into a local import store (It is ironically called "Good Price" ... the prices are actually not that great) and I saw this young lady wearing a Chicago Cubs hoodie.
I knew instantly this is today's 100 strangers shot.
I haven't lived in Chicago since I was a little boy, yet I still consider the Windy City to be something of my "hometown" ... and if I watch baseball, I still kind of prefer the Cubs (Losing consistently since 1908). So this girl wearing a Cubs hoodie in the middle of UB struck a chord with me.
Her is name is Болорцэцэг (This means "Crystal Flower") and she knew nothing about baseball. Her older sister had given her the hoodie as a gift. She wears it stay warm while working in produce where strawberries are about $15 a pound.
Good Price, indeed...
During today's evening "magic hour" a band of clouds covered the sun, taking away my beautiful, golden, Mongolian, pre-sunset light. I took a couple of shots of some random-ish things, but really wanted a stranger shot.
So I stood in front of the State Department Store and waited for the cloud bank to move.
This young lady was waiting for a friend.
The cloud bank moved, and she was still waiting, so I asked if could take her portrait in the perfect light.
She laughed and laughed ... but kindly obliged. Her name is Энх Саруул ... I think this means something like "peaceful serenity", although it could also have something to do with peace and clarity. She was a great subject. I shot one of her and her friend, as well. She went on her way, still laughing at the сонин гадаад (strange foreigner).
This afternoon this young lady came into the Grain of Wheat Center (the student center where I work) to use one of our computers to prepare her CV and application for an internship at a local telephone/cable company. She is a senior at a local accounting school. This is Жагаргадиу (This is a Tibetan name. She goes by "Jagii").
She agreed to a portrait in the afternoon sunlight, then went right back to working on her internship application. You can see the intensity and determination in her eyes.
I was kind of impressed.
This young man's name is Otgoo. He is a server at the Rosewood Kitchen + Enoteca in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Otgoo is a super conscientious server and was a good sport in allowing me to take his photo today.
I must say that I recommend this place. It has some of the best food in UB. I had a Crispy-Skinned Half Chicken, and it was delicious. I also recommend ordering the parmesan herb fries. So good.
And if you go, ask for Otgoo. He does a great job.
I saw these two guys standing on the corner by the bus stop, just after I got off the bus today. They are clearly from the Mongolian Countryside, and were happy to allow me to take their photo.
They are with a group that has traveled into the "big city" from the south Gobi. These two are herders. The younger man's name is Ѳлзий Буяи (Ultzii Buyai ... means something about a a blessing). The older gentlemen's name, I can not even begin to pronounce. I am pretty sure it's a Tibetan name, as it's nothing like any Mongolian name I've ever heard.
In any case, I asked the older gentleman how he liked the city. His answer:
"It's not nice or friendly. Too much movement. Too many cars."
Given that where these guys are from, where it's mostly sand and camels, I guess Ulaanbaatar is a bit over the top.
So happy to have met these two country gentlemen today. Perfect Mongolian friendliness.
This is "Ultzie" and he is the main Chef at a new restaurant in Ulaanbaatar called "German Doner." I decided to go here today because I decided that a Bratwurst for lunch sounded fantastic (and it was!)
Ultzie has been working here for the past four months, which is also the length of time the restaurant has been open. They are very eager to please and are doing a great job serving quality German and Turkish cuisine.
Ultzie was kind enough to allow me to photograph him If you're ever in Ulaanbaatar stop by and have Ultzie serve you up a bratwurst. He does them right.
Ran into these two gals while on a photo excursion up to the Prague Castle. They were taking pictures of each other, and when I asked if I could take their photo and add them to my strangers collection, I was expecting European accents.
To my surprise, I heard Southern US!
I was happy to meet Elizabeth from Athens, TN and Moriah from San Jose, CA ... in Prague, Czech Republic.
We live in a small, small world, indeed.
Found these two sitting at a Frozen Yogurt place in Greenville, SC. This is Brian and his dog, Bones. Brian has had Bones for about three years and has found him to be a great dog. They were both kind enough to pose for a portrait while waiting for a frozen treat.
Downtown Greenville was kind of sketchy 25 years ago when we lived here. Now ... it's fantastic. Today Renee' and I were down here after church to hang out with our kids for a little while (before they went into work) and we met Abby. She is with her two dogs, Roan and Frost. Two puppies. Lot's of downtown activity. It was difficult to get them all looking my way at the same time. In fact, that never happened. However, it was nice to meet Abby and her two canine friends anyway. Downtown Greenville is now the place to be ... especially if one has dogs!
I've taken several photos this week around "Due South Coffee". I really like this place a lot. Today I had the chance to chat with one of the co-owners. His name is Patrick. They have a great vision for a unique space. Coffee is important to them, and every cup is individually poured with affection and care. I enjoyed some time with daughter, while sipping a pour over made with a medium roast from El Salvador. I've tried the cold brew iced coffee, which is actually on tap. Patrick also let me taste the Thomas Creek coffee oatmeal stout which is on tap there. All was very good.
So I haven't taken a stranger portrait in some time, but today's photo sort of landed in my lens. This lovely young lady is Jekela and she was visiting Greenville from another part of the State for the purposes of her work. She borrowed my computer to charge and power supply, and we struck up a conversation which resulted in her kindly allowing me to take her portrait. She was so kind and so photogenic!
Perfect for 19/100 strangers.
Pastor Bhan (Stranger #20)
Met this beautiful family while visiting the World Relief Refugee Resettlement Office in Atlanta. Pastor Bhan and his lovely wife and daughter are from Myanmar (Burma) and pastors' the Shan refugees who are coming to Atlanta from war-torn Burma.