Demure Joy

Imagine 200 school children demanding their photos be taken, decending on you like some crazy throng and posing in attitudes from their favourite gangsta rappers, like in the following photos.

Now imagine what it’s like for the shy girl who’d love to have her photograph taken but simply can’t or won’t push her way to the front because of all these extroverts.

What happens when the photographer (me) sees this shy girl hanging back but desperately wanting a piece of the action?

I’m in a tiny outback town that I’ve written about many times before, Spitzkoppe in Namibia, and I’m at the local primary school being beseiged by all these kids, the boys adopting aggressive poses that they think look cool because they’ve seen them on telly, and the girls all posing like supermodels (and some of them are more beautiful than some real supermodels). I see one small shy girl hanging back, unlike all the others, and I go over to her and ask if she would like her photo taken. Her face beams and I take some shots and then show them to her on the back of the camera. She loves them and laughs, but then still shows her shy side and I manage to get one final shot of her showing her true colours.

This scratchboard piece is the result of that encounter and I’ve called it “Demure Joy”, symbolising both reactions I saw from her that day.