Many years ago (many by the standards of someone whose passport says 1985), I would come back to Bulgaria and would immediately put my shield (immediately=at the airport BEFORE the flight). I needed that shield for my own sanity – it is a culture shock – not that I wanted to keep my distance or that I felt ashamed of being Bulgarian. It had to do with change – in the same way as air pressure change leads to a headache, I had a headache experience when I looked at the faces of those Bulgarian flying back to Sofia – I used to play this game in my mind trying to guess if the person is Bulgarian or a foreigner going to Bulgaria just by looking at their facial expression. Statistically, I would have in most cases won had I bet on him/her being Bulgarian but it wasn’t also difficult to differentiate them simply because the neutral expression isn’t neutral – it is tense, worried, full of contempt even.
Over the years, and especially since picking up street photography, I have come to rely on the camera as the shield which has opened my understanding for such looks. And it is not that this is a reflection of the soul – no. Just like my camera, such a facial expression is a shield and you can see it drop when the person talks on the phone with a loved one, or when the boy feeds the birds, or when they hand together chatting about girly things, or when in the grey reality of the day he walks with a flower in hand, or when their orange hair (which is rare on one person in the streets let alone two people next to each other) flows in the low afternoon sun.
All shot from the hip (and as such they are “deliberate accidents”) at f8 or f11 (Summicron C40/f2) pre-set based on the distance indicators on the lens barrel.