This boy does not quite look comfortable sitting still. He seems a little amused at being pushed outside of the house, made up like this in public for the sake of a passport photo or something like it. It does not seem as if he chose the tie himself. And he can’t have been long from the barber’s, his hair still holding the crest of the wave combed into it. I imagine his mother fussing over him one last time before stepping back, out of frame, and allowing the photographer to do his work.
Though amused he hardly seems buoyant; his shoulders are slumped, his body cramped as though stuffed into the frame. Having submitted to the process, his lips seem passive as if there were nothing held back on his tongue or no occasion to speak.
But his right eye seems to be drifting free of the room, his mind elsewhere. And the right corner of his lip is turned down and tense with a touch of aggression. Perhaps he is not amused after all. But his left eye seems palpably shocked, as if it alone had caught sight of something that the other side of his face, lost in thought, had missed.
I wonder how the other photos in the spool turned out. I suppose that among the others this one failed to make the cut. That is why it was discarded or lost in a drawer and set on its way to the market where I picked it up. Perhaps in the very next moment, shaken into shape by the first flash, he recovered his composure, lifted his gaze and stared straight ahead, fixing the camera with the formal, blank look that was all he had been asked for.