Friday, 9 August 2013

Faces of Timor

I've finally gotten through the 100's of photos I took on my recent trip to Timor-Leste (known to many as East Timor). This was a bit of a unique trip because  I got to include a mix of work and holiday time. The work part involved presenting my research on coffee growing in Timor-Leste at a conference, as well as attending a number of other meetings in Dili. I really enjoyed this process and definitely learnt a lot about coffee growing in Timor and also about the processes involved with development research.

After all the official activities were finished, Rupert and I set out on an 8 day motorcycle trip around the country. I know Timor-Leste isn't really on the 'to-do-list' for many travellers but we had an amazing time and met so many interesting people.

Anyway...onto the photos, rather than do one enormous blog post with the photos from the trip, I've decided to break it up into a few sections. This first post will show my shots of the Timorese people.  I have been trying to take more people photos generally so I'm a bit excited to share some of the results!

I'll start off with some photos of the men we met along the way. Pretty much every man I pointed the camera at seemed almost proud that they were having their photo taken.  They sat up straighter, pushed out their chest just a bit and stared straight down the lens. I might be reading a bit too much into this but I think you can see the pride and strength that sustained the long fight for independence. Things have been unspeakably been tough and conditions are certainly not easy in many parts of the country, but at least there is a future to plan for.

The women were slightly harder to capture as they tended to be a lot shyer in front of the camera. I did manage to get a few photos though.  

I love the contrast between the two photos below. Believe it or not, the two ladies in the first photo were very happy to have their photo taken, they just put on their 'serious faces' as soon as I lifted the camera to my eye.  I'm pretty sure the ladies in the second photo thought I was the funniest person they'd seen in a while.

This brings me to the kids, Timor-Leste is a very young country, both politically and demographically. According to the Government's latest strategic plan, over half of the population is under 19 years old. Everywhere we went we were greeted by kids yelling out 'MALAE!!!!',  which translates to 'foreigner!!!!'.

That's it for this post but there's another one coming in the next day or two about the beautiful scenery and landscapes we came across on our trip. I'll also have another post that focuses more on motorbikes and the strong custom motorcycle culture that exists in Dili (who knew??). Subscribe to the blog using the subscription link above if you want to stay up to date with these  posts (if you're on a mobile the link is down the bottom of the page).

I'd also love to know which photos you like the best, let me know in the comments below!

(Updated: for links to other photos from the trip, click here and here)


  1. I can tell there is a story behind these men and women, you've captured that well. I like the one of the man in the hat and the child behind the turquoise chair. Your descriptions are very respectful to the Timorese.

  2. Amazing photos! Really well done. Were you using natural lighting or did you use a flash/softbox?

    1. Thanks for your comments. I didn't take a flash with me (too heavy for motorcycle travelling!) and was just using the light that was available. One of the reasons I like the D600 so much is that I can push up the ISO in low light situations and the results are still very usable.


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