Borja (Stranger #78/100), Dublin

Street Portait

In Dublin for one night with work, I threw my camera and a couple of reflectors in my only bag. Late on after an intense day I hit the streets for a quick walk to clear my mind.

It was a bright, sunny evening, so I thought I would head up to St Stephen’s Green, which is pretty much my favourite part of the town (competing with Howth for the similarity to my surname and seals). However, Grafton Street was busy with people and a dark wall up the side of the Molton Brown shop offered a background right amidst the main footfall.

Shortly after taking up residence, Borja caught my eye. A dashing chap in suit and bright red tie, he passed in one direction with a purposeful stride and I hesitated, not wanting to disturb a man on a mission. A few minutes later, however, he came back with a small group of people – his wife and parents visiting from Basque country.

Still a little concerned at interrupting an intense conversation, I nonetheless approached and met the most fantastic chap you could hope to encounter.

His wife Noemi and he listened to my explanation of the project, and kindly, excitedly even agreed to take part. Both had a wonderful, positive, international energy and together we set up in the alleyway.

We shot with the light chiefly coming from behind Borja, as I wanted to give him some separation from the dark wall. He’s holding one reflector, and Noemi the other, just next to me to bounce the backlight back onto him from the rightside. I popped a Canon 600EX-RT beneath his reflector (to mask it) firing at Noemi’s, to add an extra zap of fill – fired ETTL at -1 comp.

Though we experimented with a “serious” shot, I opted for this one of Borja’s incredible natural smile. Noemi spoke about his kindness and warmth, and in speaking with them I felt a wonderful mix of humility and unshakable confidence from him. He was a lovely, hugely charismatic chap.

He’s in Dublin as a civil engineer. We chatted about his most interesting project – the M50 motorway – and the challenges people outside of his profession don’t anticipate. He explained that the human element was the most complex and difficult to resolve; so many stakeholders, views, objectives and conflicting agendas to balance. It made great sense to me that he work in this field given his aura of calm, his friendly energy and a serious, focused gaze.

When we parted I wandered on, up to St Stephen’s Green… wondering about taking another portrait, yet feeling it was not needed. No sooner than I’d arrived, I bumped into Borja and Noemi again by the central fountains. Meeting them there I knew my work for the evening was complete, and, smiling I headed back to my hotel to tidy up my day’s work.

Borja – eskerrik asko! Thank you so much for your time, and for checking out my project! I’m so pleased you took a moment to be part of it and hope you like your portrait.

This is portrait #78 of my 100 Strangers Project – check out the group page and get involved.

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