Beautiful Stranger

I saw him from a distance. His amber-blonde curls and sun-painted face drew me in. His freckles made him look older than he was, I observed. Australian, I guessed.

He was sitting on a bench, waiting for his friends, I imagined. There was ample space around him, a plain background, and the right sort of shade.

He seemed unhurried, careless. I hesitated. Intimidated. My mind was already talking me out of it. But when I hesitated for a second time, I knew I would have to do it.

Five strangers. Five yeses. That’s all I had asked of myself.

I walked over and asked if I could take his portrait. As soon as I got my reply, I realized, once again, that nobody ever says no to me, they say yes to their own insecurities.

And I felt bad. Almost guilty for having asked at all. For he had said no. And saying no is always harder than saying yes.

He would end this day a little weaker. He would regret that no. Doubt that no. He would doubt it in a way that he wouldn’t doubt a yes.

For facing your fears is easier than living with them. I learned that now, once again. Stronger because of it, I was. And so was she, I was sure.

Street portrait of a young woman in Cnaggu, before PhotoshopStreet portrait of a young woman in Cnaggu, after Photoshop

2018, Bali · Mika Francis*

*Not long after publishing this post, I would bump into this beautiful stranger (pictured above) on the internet. Her name is Mika Francis, and she may not be as shy in front of the camera as I thought she was.


🔧 To edit the image above, I applied the retouching skills as thought in the Skillshare class “Photography Masterclass: Learn the secrets of portrait editing.” Sliding the arrow from the left border of the photo to the right will reveal the original shot.

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👉🏻 In the summer of 2017, I spent 30 days learning photography and Photoshop: “Photographer for a Month: A Journey into Learning to Shoot Strangers.”