Portrait of Salim

His name is Salim. In Arabic it means peaceful and during my brief encounter with him it fit his disposition.

Salim was enjoying a bowl of stew outside of Liam Flynn’s in Station North on a warm fall night.

I asked if I could take his photo. I find people fall into two camps when you ask if you can take their picture. Either no way, go away; or they immediately smile and let you go for it.

While Salim agreed to let me take his photo he was not enthusiastic about it. Can’t say I blame him, after all, I interrupted his dinner. And that stew smelled and looked delicious.
Now, I interrupted Salim because there are moments that scream to you – “take this guy’s photo.” For me, his face demanded it. He looked like he had a lot of stories to tell. Certainly his worn and rumpled clothing helped convey that impression.

Salim’s white and wizened beard added depth to my perceived notion of who he is or could be. The dreadlocks hanging like fringes framing his fame completed the picture for me. One that I knew I’d want to compose as a portrait.

The first few frames I shot he looked annoyed. I coaxed the smile out of him. It wasn’t difficult it just took a few words of encouragement.

The only available light was the city streetlight. It produces an ugly, yellowish hue. The solution is to manually adjust the white balance in the camera but there wasn’t time for that. Photos of folks like Salim you grab as quickly as you can. Street photography often doesn’t give you time to compose and take test shots.
For photos like this one you anticipate and shoot rapidly.

I fine tuned Salim’s portrait in Lightroom and used MacPhun, a software program that offers tools to enhance details. I tightly cropped around his face, lightened as much as I could around the eyes and did my best to adjust the white balance. The simplicity of Salim’s expression dictated that this should be a black and white portrait, my portrait of Salim.

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