As documentary photographers, this is the kind of portrait we live for.
I was departing a ship after three hours of shooting in midday heat and harsh light, sweating through my layers of safety garb. Conditions on-board were the usual, a little hairy dipping under lots of steal, climbing sloped rusty metal ladders, dodging the stevedores that would have preferred to not wear their PPE’s, aka they didn’t want me there… you know, the usual (wink)
I was on the gangway ramp leaving the ship for the day when I turned around and saw him standing there, perfectly placed, but my position was slightly off.
I wrapped my strap around my neck, leaned dangerously far over the ramp rope side rail over the water, and lined him up.
With my index and middle finger out like a piece sign, I gestured my fingers toward my eyes for him to keep looking at me just as he was. The first image was with him smiling big and laughing hands by his sides, open palms. The second image was him looking away talking into his two-way radio (I don’t know what language he was speaking, I had my ear plugs in and the air was loud with compressors and the rumbling of a working vessel)
I waited… the third or fourth image was him getting uncomfortable looking around still standing tall, fists clinched now, and the last image was this one - I felt like it was just him, not posing, a little uncomfortable, just standing there.
I had goosebumps.
I held a peace sign up with my fingers, mouthed a thank you and started down the last feet of the gangway. I was grinning from ear to ear as I held my cameras tight against my sides keeping them from banging the side rails of the ramp, and trying to keep upright as the wobbly gangway was trying to buck me off - as they do.
It was a good day.