I posted this a couple of days ago in my ‘Urban Life’ series but here it is again with a little background. This is probably one of my favourite photographs from Manila. The family ran this little stall at the end of our street. The menu largely consisted of every conceivable part of a chicken but I generally stuck to the pork. The grill is just off to the left where his wife is grilling my pork skewers. The glare from that fluorescent light in the background was a challenge when processing this picture and from time to time I still work on it to fine tune it some more. The nicest part of this picture is the little guy on the right. He was a shy kid and when we smiled at him he would often hide behind his mum or dad. I didn’t notice the big smile at the time and only saw it when I opened the picture in Lightroom later.

Roxas Boulevard runs along the edge of Manila Bay and is one of the major North-South roads in the city. When Pope Francis visited, his convoy traveled this route every day and the road was closed when he was passing. Crowds of people lined the route to catch a glimpse as he passed and these four boys were taking a break from standing on the raised median which had the best views. You can see the feet of the people still waiting there just behind them. The boys were taking a lunch break with their sandwiches and at first refused to have their picture taken. As I walked away they had a change of heart and called me back. I like the sense of friendship in this picture and the very natural responses of the boys. I took one more shot which was a little more formal and posed but lacked all the humanity of this shot.

Here’s another shot I really like. This was also taken during the pope’s visit a little further down the road from the previous shot. These guys are the barangay police from barangay 76 in Pasay. Barangays are the smallest unit of political organisation in the Philippines, similar to a ward or a district. Each barangay has its own small police force. As with the previous photograph I liked the naturalness of this shot with the different postures and expressions, particularly the guy on the end looking over his friend’s shoulder.

This older man spent his days on Wilson Street a few hundred yards from our apartment. Every time I passed by he would smile and wave. Having been convinced that photographing vulnerable homeless people was morally dubious I never thought about taking his picture until one day he made clear from his gestures that he wanted me to do so. I thought his face conveyed sadness but also real dignity.

These three guys were security guards at a complex of new office buildings further down Wilson Street or possible on Mabini Street. I got talking to them and took some shots. Normally my portrait shots are set in a particular context, but here the ‘context’ was a plain wall. I was quite pleased with how these turned out which was helped, as ever, by the openness and naturalness of my subjects.