Photo of The Week: Bissau Rain Day

Looking back on Bissau is a little bit tough for me.  It was one of those places that I just don’t feel like I got anything out of.  Sure, part of the problem was that I found myself in the grips of malaria, but it was also that there just isn’t a lot to do in town.  For a capital city, Bissau is a quiet city that somehow feels more like a small town than anything.  And the truth is that the one thing I’ll remember about the city is the rain.  It seemed to rain about 80% of the time; perhaps not surprisingly since it was the heart of the rainy season.  Shooting photography was already enough of a challenge in Guinea-Bissau since the people are just so camera shy, but the rains almost made it impossible.  Luckily, on one day I used the rain to my advantage and shot some stills of people scampering through the rains.  This was the one image that I really liked from that bit of a shoot.

How I Got the Shot

Photographing people is always a bit of a tricky situation.  I generally follow the rule that if I’m taking a portrait of someone that I ask for their permission.  I also ask, or tip the camera for approval if I can see that some potential subjects are in one of my shots.  However, in trying to capture a raw image like this, there would have been no way for me to ask permission.  Am I supposed to yell out at him and ask if I can shoot?  Moreover, I feel like this is more of a scene than a portrait.  Thus, I didn’t ask.  Luckily for me I have a long lens and I can take images like this a little without too much of a problem.  I took this image at a focal length of 120mm.  If I just had a wide angle lens I would have had to be so close to the subject that it would have made the subject feel like, well, a subject.  At the end of the day, as long as you don’t act like the world is a zoo and the people within it are animals put there for your viewing pleasure I think you’ve probably met the ethical standards necessary to sleep comfortably at night.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: Brendan van Son is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. He has visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than he has the desire to count. Check out his profile on . for a little bit more about him.

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>