This morning I have shared a quote and portrait on our Facebook Group about one of the interesting characters you will find in Johannesburg and thought it wouldn't be right if I don't share it with our Photo Critic community too. I would love to get your opinion about my story and please leave a comment below or post it on our Facebook Group at


Evl Jn is one of those interesting characters you will meet in Johannesburg. One day, I was out with a class, teaching visual composition and I walked into him. I asked whether I can take his portrait and took him aside.

Instead of posing him, I asked questions about his life. Then while interviewing, started taking portraits of him. Every now and then refining my angle and asking him to turn slightly, or maybe look at the camera. My aim was to capture his true expressions. I came away with probably 70 images, all shot with a 45mm tilt-shift. I might share a few more of the more expressive portraits at a later stage.

Despite his seemingly malevolent appearance, I found him quite sensible and interesting. It seems he was brought up in a "normal" home and had a proper high school education. He sees himself as an artist. To earn a living he would make these little cartoon sketches of himself. He sells it on the streets. He also sells marijuana, because, after my quick photo session, I gave him a Hundred Rand, to which he replied that he attempted to sell marijuana the previous evening, and couldn't make a dime. He was very grateful for my donation.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I asked him about his art. His reply was interesting. I forgot his exact wording, but he was saying something in the line of "How can art be beautiful in such a fucked-up world".

I have also made a quick blog post on our website, showing more of the portraits I took of him - Check it out: Creating Art in a F'd up World


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Hi Danie - in capturing this portrait you managed to get one of the fundamentals in great portrait photography right and that is - getting him to drop his guard, peeled away the layers and that you got by asking him questions and also by offering something of yourself (not money....). Each person has his own style and I can see what his face is slightly out of focus. In wanting to capture his soul rather than is spirit I would have focused on his eyes, rather than on his fist. That being said - the gesture relates to his comment thought and strengthens the message. My thoughts.....

Thanks for the reply Phillip. I agree wholeheartedly with you. I also prefer to focus on the eyes, and I have several portraits of him, with the eyes sharp in focus. I decided to share this image as part of the quote, because he was giving the FU sign, which goes with his philosophy. 


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