Faces of Papua New Guinea

Sculptured by the sun, the sea and the wind. Living in natural elements in harmony with nature, being self-sufficient. Weathering storms, cyclones and malaria. The faces of Papua New Guinea tell many a tale but always a welcoming one. One can only aspire to be as warm, friendly, smiling and fun as the people we met wherever we went.

I captured more than 1,500 images in Papua New Guinea and more than 90% features portraits or slices of everyday life of the people we met. This was exactly what I wished for, travel photography and portraits and I am quite happy with the results. I have presently developed 30 images and shall launch my Papua New Guinea gallery soon on my website. Today I feature one of my personal favourites, fascinating faces of a beautiful Father and Children, captured in a dear and rare moment where the photographer and camera ceased to exist:


I am excited to hear feedback on my portraits. Stay tuned for the soon to be released Papua New Guinea gallery.

11 Comments on “Faces of Papua New Guinea”

  1. Beautiful shot Flemming!! They look very natural and seem unphased by the camera. Almost sit off from the background – did you mask a different background in? As you have said suits it well. love to know what they are deep in thought about…

    1. Thanks very much Steven. No the background is completely authentic. They are standing just far enough from the background for the tree to be slightly blurred creating separation. The sun is above, slightly behind them and that adds to the separation from the background as they are backlit. Nothing much has been done to this shot except brighten the shadows a bit in the backlit faces and desaturing the colours slightly. I also darkened the left top corner.

  2. Those are some great faces you've captured! Did you arrange them or was it a case of right place, right time?

    The composition/crop of this photo unsettles me a bit, and after looking at it a goodly while I have to throw in my 0.02. The DOF brings the tree texture out a lot (it's a tree right?), to a point which almost makes it, and not the people, the primary subject of the shot. There's enough white space in the shot to suggest an environmental portrait, but not quite enough to show something going on.

    I'd say either crop it closer to make the people the dominant subjects, or widen the frame (i realise you can't exactly do this now) to include more of the environment. A bit of a shallower DOF would work to add tonal contrast and bring them out while still maintaining the people-in-camouflage camouflage element of the image.

    That said, I don't know what your primary aim was when making this image so it really is 2 cents!

    Have a look through this guy's set for some inspiration. I'm guessing Steve McCurry's work is one of his inspirations: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cameronherweynen/set

    1. Thanks for the great feedback C, so much appreciated and a great help.

      I am at f/4, as wide open as I can get on my 24-105mm f/4 lens and they are not far enough from the background to really throw it out of focus. I dislike fake Photoshop bokeh, only the real thing counts. And oh yeah, it's a tree 🙂

      I shall try another crop, you may be right in that I have too much negative space. I love having negative space to balance the subject, but perhaps this has too much. I shall try out a closer crop.

      Good link, some nice stuff there. A few too many in your face portraits I find, too much "I want to get that McCurry Afghan girl one in a million shot". I like to include a bit of environment.

      1. “I want to get that McCurry Afghan girl one in a million shot”

        HAHA, v true. I wonder who his idol is 😉

        Despite my comments re the background I think you've totally nailed the subjects. If you end up selling this as stock, I can see it appearing on a top end tourism campaign. The man is particularly compelling. That faraway look in his eyes makes me think we need to start doing some storyboarding for F2!

        1. Thanks Charlene. I played around with a few crops, and yes a tighter crop on the left side and top works better so I have cropped the final version tighter – thanks!

          F2, yes indeed, my head is spinning with options at the moment though.

          1. You have options, I have obstacles. I think it's pretty safe to say our timing might be a bit shot through. I reckon it might happen at some point after all 😉

  3. It's an interesting juxtaposition of the tranquility of the children with the more intense expression of the father, and together with their lines of vision, it seems that while they are close, they are in 2 different places in their minds. Can you remember what the kids were looking at? I'm also not sure about the balance/cropping but then again it makes sense to start shooting some images with space for some Nat Geo editorial 🙂

    1. Great to get your comment Muzz, cheers mate. As I just wrote to Charlene, I have decided to crop it slightly tighter, favouring the people of course.

      They do seem to be in two different places. The children are watching a performance in the village while the father is quite possibly trying to figure out what these weird tourists are doing.

      And you said it perfectly, gotta leave some crop space for those NG editors!

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