Hands and Faces - 1 - Meet Oz

Hands and Faces - Meet Oz  Railay West - Thailand Hands and Faces - 1 - Oz - Tonsai, Thailand The Story I brought two pairs of...

Hands and Faces - Meet Oz 
Railay West - Thailand

Hands and Faces - 1 - Oz - Tonsai, Thailand

The Story

I brought two pairs of climbing shoes with me to Thailand. A brand new pair of 'top of the line' Italian foot torture devices and my old trusty and totally beat up old pair. The older pair, were on their way out: totally ruined. I had brought them with me to try "deep water solo" i.e: climbing without ropes over water. Sea water is not great for climbing shoes and I fully expected to throw them out prior to getting back on the plane to Australia.

As is usually the way, my expensive new shoes started to fall apart as well. Fellow climbers pointed me in the direction of a climbing shop in Railay West (the neighbouring beach) that did cheap shoe repairs.

Big solid working hands emerged clean from a patterned coat of blue and flesh that extends into the shadows of the sleeves of a black Harley Davidson tee. He was barefoot and grey bearded.  however I noticed none of these features. Oz is a gentle person and hides behind a coy smile. It acts like a window, through which this strong and solid human to appears to take up less space in the room, due largely to that 'oh so Thai' nature of making every effort to not make others uncomfortable.

The work he has done on my shoes is spectacular. I had been told in Australia that these shoes were beyond repair. Yet repaired they were, to the point of looking new, although a little faded, as they hung in this mans meaty hands.

I told him so, and he sidesteps the compliment. I ask him for a photo, he sheepishly agrees. I shoot one photo on the instant camera.

Then I give it to him.


It's the first shot of the "Hands and Faces" project and the idea came to me within that very instant.

Something spectacular happened on the other side of the glass. Oz opened up. His smile became genuine and his body language relaxed. He laughed and told me, through very broken English, stories about his tattoos and why he doesn't climb anymore, About the best spots to climb and eat and what the area was once like.

That small act had made his day and it definitely made mine.

Ordinary people are often baffled by the fact that a photographer would like to take a photo of someone they don't know. I think it's the ultimate complement. That person was so interesting, that based on nothing other than their face and clothing, you were inspired to capture that instance.

This way, we both get something from the experience. We make a photo together, each take a photo from it and are both richer for having looked deeper into another person.

On a final note: my rebuilt climbing shoes are fantastic!

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