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The Man in the Hat

by Penny Sadler

One of the attractions of traveling is meeting new people. If you’re traveling on your own as I most often am, a bit of conversation, a friendly face and a smile can change your whole day.

I also enjoy photographing people though I can be a bit shy about it. I love attending Fiesta Santa Barbara because there are always so many interesting people in costume and they don’t mind being photographed.

I saw the man in the photograph sitting with a large group of his friends and family, though if  you asked me what anyone else in the group looked like I wouldn’t be able to tell you. He has such a strong spirit and look I didn’t really see the people around him.

I’m a professional makeup artist and hairstylist – I notice details: color, bone structure, hair, wardrobe, anything unique or exotic. It’s just what I do.  I wanted to take his photograph but was hesitant to ask, not because of him but because he was surrounded by so many people.

I complimented him on his hat, which contrasted nicely with his skin. What I really liked about him, he had  a definite ethnic look and it was genuine. I couldn’t think of anything else to say, so I moved on and joined my friends.

We were at the Mercado of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a small neighborhood market with live music, games for the kids, Loteria, coing tossing, and food booths serving churros, posole, tamales and other typical Mexican foods. The market is only open during the Fiesta Santa Barbara Old Spanish Days, an event I attend annually in Santa Barbara, California.

Back to the man in the hat…

He was sitting not far away, and I every now and again I’d look over my shoulder just to make sure he was still there. I was afraid he’d leave before I got up the courage to ask him if I could photograph him. I guess I was looking over my shoulder a lot because it wasn’t long before one of his friends pointed at me and smiled, and the next thing I knew he was making his way through the closely packed tables and chairs towards me.

What a relief! Even though he’s obviously a friendly guy I was glad I did not have to approach him in front of all of those other people.

He told me he’s a descendant of Emiliano Zapata, and that was the reason behind the style of his beard. I said I thought his beard was perfect – really an essential part of his look – and explained that I’m a professional makeup artist. I loved the contrast it created with his skin, and he said he liked that too, but his wife wasn’t fond of it. Beard or no, his personality is written all over his face and shines through his eyes.

You know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” To me, this picture is worth much more than a thousand words. It’s a travel memory and a reminder of the many reasons I love to travel: inspiration, a change of scenery, local color and culture, sharing ideas and meeting new people.

Speaking of inspiration let me know if the girl in my article Travel and Self Exploration inspires you?

Do you like photographing people? How do you approach them?


All materials ©Penny Sadler 2012 please be respectful.

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writecrites September 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Yes, I love taking photographs of people, and the way you approached him with a compliment is a perfect way to introduce yourself. You would probably love Turkey, where beautiful school children (there are always groups of them visiting important sites with their teachers) actually throw themselves in front of your camera so you can take their photo. No request needed 🙂

Penny September 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I’ve been investigating Turkey. Are you living there?

writecrites September 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I live in Hawaii, but spent 3 weeks touring Turkey last year and have done quite a few blog posts about it. Remarkable country.

Phil Lanoue September 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Terrific portrait! Really like seeing something differnt from the alligators I often photograph. 🙂

eof737 September 1, 2012 at 6:29 am

Excellent post and photo. 🙂

Carrie Lundquist August 31, 2012 at 7:18 pm

He did have an interesting face…and very friendly, too! Love your pictures!!

Penny August 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Thanks Carrie. Had a great time.


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