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The 'Spotter'

By AlanBW
My first upload as an E2 member!

The above image is of John, one of our touring group in the Baltic Republics, who became my ‘spotter’ for characters during our extremely enjoyable trip to pastures new. It began on the evening of the first full day, when John and his wife Pat shared a table with us at dinner in the hotel. We had never met before, but we hit it off straight away and talked about all sorts of things, including my interest in photography. I explained that I was interested in taking all sorts of photographs but above all I sought out interesting characters and if I could capture them in context such shots could make fascinating images and memories. Later that evening I showed John a couple of characters I had captured during the day and he was very interested – ‘caricature photography’ was the phrase he used.

John is a great character who has a superb dry wit and he would throw out sharp one-liners in conversation; something that I was always happy to try and match. We had a whale of a time throughout the trip competing in the one-liner stakes, with Pat and Tricia joining in and more than holding their own.

So how did John become my self-appointed ‘spotter’? It was all because of the above image, which I captured in Vilnius when John was with the group and was gazing intently at the place that our local guide was speaking about. I had broken off from the group and was doing my own thing - something I often do no matter where we go, when I glanced back and saw John holding a look of intense concentration – and in an instant the shot was taken. When we broke for lunch, Tricia and I dashed off to have another look around the cathedral and then made for the meeting point, near which we settled into a watering-hole for local beer and a snack. Just as we were finishing we saw Pat, John and a couple of others walking past, so I called Pat across and showed her the shot I had taken of John. Pat’s jaw dropped, her eyes widened and sparkled and then came a huge, beaming smile. ‘You’ve got to show him – You’ve just got to show him!’ she said excitedly. John was a few yards away and stopped, obviously sensing that Pat wasn’t walking beside him. He saw Pat talking to us and came over, whereupon I told him that I had managed to catch another interesting character during the morning. ‘Let’s have a look,’ said John, putting on his spectacles. I switched on the camera and located the image – and once he had taken a look he knew he’d been had. John took it ever so well, although he swore he’d get his revenge on me during the trip – something that he didn’t manage to achieve.

The following day John became my official ‘spotter’ when we were approaching Rundale Palace and he ran after me to alert me to the character portrayed in ‘Apples For Sale’. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was John being John – and he had set me a test. I thanked him, turned back immediately to capture the shot and as we were going into the palace I was able to show him. John was as delighted as me, but later that day he said that it was my reaction he was testing. If I’d done nothing, I'm sure he’d have left spotting characters alone, but because I said I was going to get the shot there and then – and did so, John made it his mission to look out for interesting people too. Sometimes John would indicate a possible shot by the sideways movement of his head or by the flicker of an eye – there were occasions when I couldn’t keep up with him! We all had a lot of fun, especially on the last evening when John was stood next to a hatchet-faced conductress on a crowded trolley bus in Riga and expected me to get the shot. I tried and failed – people kept getting in the way - but every time I missed out all four of us laughed. The locals must have wondered what we were on!

It was a memorable trip, made all the more enjoyable by meeting up with John and Pat and the four of us having such a huge amount of fun together. They're a fantastic couple; I'm delighted to say that we have stayed in touch since returning to the UK.

FOOTNOTE: This image is uploaded with John's agreement

Tags: Travel General Man Candid Lithuania Vilnius Portraits and people

Voters: GalleryGirl, Badgerfred, DolphinLady and 123 more

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GalleryGirl 13 4 2 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 3:27PM
Sounds like you had a ball! Great capture of John listening intently to the guide. Probably would have cropped his right shoulder a smidge to get rid of his camera bag strap! barmymarny x
13 Sep 2007 3:29PM
Excellent portrait/candid Alan, plenty of detail,
DolphinLady 15 54 1 Wales
13 Sep 2007 3:37PM
A wonderful capture Alan.
Well spotted shot of your spotter Smile
ChristineL 16 39 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 3:43PM
a great portrait of your 'spotter', a super expression,
Grim1 14 49 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 4:07PM
Great story!
GlynnisFrith 14 23 3 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 4:22PM
The spotter got caught EH!! nice one, it's a great candid shot & he was so unaware you were taking it which adds to the fun
AlanBW 15 20 England
13 Sep 2007 4:29PM
Many thanks Marilyn, Fred, Hilary, Chris, Cori and Glynnis, much appreciated - Alan
imander 14 388 7 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 4:36PM
cracking portrait
mhaseman 14 608 1
13 Sep 2007 4:38PM
Great story about the spotter. And a nice candid.
13 Sep 2007 4:44PM
Super candid Alan and a great description. Glad you enjoyed your holiday so much.

AlanBW 15 20 England
13 Sep 2007 4:52PM
Many thanks Ian, Martin and Val - Alan
Nettles 13 England
13 Sep 2007 5:09PM
What a great candid and fabulous story.
Holidays are so much more fun when you have some others to share it with.
A super shot, he looks a character most definately.
Well caught an excellent image.
13 Sep 2007 5:12PM
Jaw-droppingly good Alan, enjoyable read too, he has that Victor Meldrew look about him, sounds like a great character to be on holiday with, fine image, Adrian
AlanBW 15 20 England
13 Sep 2007 5:29PM
Many thanks Annette and Adrian, very much appreciated. There's a bit of Victor Meldrew in all of us - LOL!!! - Alan
trissie 14 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 5:45PM
Excellent capture Alan, and loved reading your story. It's lovely when you meet up with people on holiday and have a great time together.

Trish x
proz 16 205 United States
13 Sep 2007 6:05PM
nice shot
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2397 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 6:11PM
But try explaining that to people who expect to spend a holiday inert on the beach...
I like the idea of a personal spotter, I like the idea of the watering-hole even better. Sounds like my sort of holiday all round (Vilnius is on the list.)
Lovely shot, more character than caricature, and thanks for the story.
foggytwo 17 36 1 Scotland
13 Sep 2007 6:17PM
A super capture Alan with an excellent pose to go with it.Like the way you arrived at the title.
AlanBW 15 20 England
13 Sep 2007 6:23PM
Many thanks Trish, Proz, Moira and Pete - Alan
13 Sep 2007 6:41PM
Well done for spotting the spotter. Great capture.

John Smile
13 Sep 2007 6:54PM
superb capture

Richard707 14 14 United States
13 Sep 2007 6:56PM
So this is the spotter. Nice shot. It definitely shows a lot of character.
helenlinda Plus
13 374 22 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 7:12PM
Nice shot of him
Interesting character
Joline Plus
14 34 59 United States
13 Sep 2007 7:26PM
John looks like quite the character much fun meeting people when traveling.
franken Plus
18 5.2k 4 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 7:29PM
Excellent candid Alan, I like the pose.

Portknockie 16 48 Scotland
13 Sep 2007 7:36PM
Sounds like you had great fun Alan....and as you say a real character and a scholar....Lol

jaktis Plus
17 84 Sweden
13 Sep 2007 7:39PM
A great portrait filled with character and life

VintageRed 15 15 1 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 8:08PM
The spotter spotted. Have an RC.
AlanBW 15 20 England
13 Sep 2007 8:12PM
Many thanks John, Graham, Richard, Helen, Joline, Ken, Don, Peter and Nick, very much appreciated - Alan
bunbeam 15 2 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 8:25PM
amazing, you always manage to get such great expressions.. love the detail right down to the tiny hairs on top of his head.. love it
15 13 1 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 8:34PM
Well captured Alan!
Hop-A-Long 14 52 1 England
13 Sep 2007 8:51PM
Excellent shot, great expression. He does look like he has a very keen eye.
Glostopcat 15 255 2 England
13 Sep 2007 8:58PM
A fine photograph and story to go with it, he looks a colourful character
imagio 14 12 1 England
13 Sep 2007 9:04PM
Excellent Alan, tongue in cheek image? Lol

KBan 16 512 4 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2007 9:48PM
marvellous candid Alan
13 Sep 2007 9:52PM
Magic expression, ya done it again
Possum 14 148 England
13 Sep 2007 10:04PM
Aha - the spotter spotted before he spotted for you! Great shot, love that intense look of concentration.
firzhugh 16 13 New Zealand
13 Sep 2007 10:11PM
fantastic capture, like the expression. great write up too
nickyv32 Plus
13 135 England
13 Sep 2007 10:17PM
Great expression, good on you !
Rende 14 38 4 Netherlands
13 Sep 2007 10:23PM
Great expression and lovely composition.
pamelajean Plus
15 1.5k 2213 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 12:13AM
How wonderful to have a companion who shares the "spotting" with you. What an expression you caught, and love his whispy hair. My first thought was that he looked like Victor Meldrew, too.
Brilane 14 5 12 Wales
14 Sep 2007 1:31AM
A great story, and a lovely picture of your spotter.
chrissd 15 304 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 4:41AM
great capture, that sounds like one fun trip Smile
jkennedy 15 4 1 Indonesia
14 Sep 2007 5:13AM
A great candid capture Alan accompanied by another fascinating story.
AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 6:39AM
Many thanks Bun, Simon, Andy, Ed, Bernie, Keith, Graham, Allie, Cornelia, Nicky, Rende, Pamela, Brian, Chris and Joe - Alan
Buffalo_Tom Plus
14 2.3k 16 Wales
14 Sep 2007 7:55AM
See he is actively at work for you,lovely shot Alan.
wyatturp 15 2 England
14 Sep 2007 8:20AM
I would like to see this in BW----WELL DONE

AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 8:49AM
Cheers Tom and Doug, much appreciated - Alan
A Booth 18 11 4 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 8:59AM
superb character portrait - lighting detail and skin tones "spot" on.
SandraKay Plus
13 233 4 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 9:13AM
Excellent candid - especially the expression in his eyes.
AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 9:33AM
Many thanks Alan and Sandra - Alan
bricurtis Plus
15 2.4k 51 England
14 Sep 2007 10:04AM
You got the 'spotter' spot on Alan.Super candid - really caught him unaware. Nice to see large.
JudeC 14 6 3 England
14 Sep 2007 11:02AM
Superb portrait - JudeC
Misteree 14 2 Australia
14 Sep 2007 11:10AM
Wonderful image. So much character in that face!
AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 11:48AM
Many thanks Brian, JudeC and Paul - Alan
Libby_M 14 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 12:23PM
this is just fab
so clear and sharp so much detail
great shot
TelStar 16 116 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 12:37PM
A great spotter spotted. Spot on!

14 Sep 2007 12:38PM
Enjoyed reading your story and good picture and expresion Smile

Bmarie 15 77 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 12:40PM
A very natural looking portrait shows off the character - great story too.


thank you also for your welcome comment on my first upload for a long while.
iajacks 15 24 England
14 Sep 2007 12:44PM
he look as if hes deep in fort.

nicely detailed shot ian
myrab 14 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 1:46PM
Great expression, well caught.
riprap007 16 1.6k 37 England
14 Sep 2007 1:52PM
wonderfully informative description, and love the capture
AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 2:14PM
Thanks Libby, Tel, Rune, Brenda, Ian, Myra and Nicholas, very much appreciated - Alan
fossilized 16 79 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 2:42PM
Lol..... as has already been mentioned, I immediately thought 'Victor Meldrew' as well. A brilliant character study.

jakcie 14 8 Ireland
14 Sep 2007 4:03PM
Excellent candid shot. Like it so much.
AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 4:11PM
Many thanks Jean and Kuba - Alan
14 Sep 2007 5:19PM
A really great portrait + story. JNC
AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 6:06PM
Many thanks Jean Noel - Alan
14 Sep 2007 6:20PM
You've done it again, not only to do you have a great story telling ability, but your image captures everything of the moment. Well done Alan. I'm thoroughly impressed. Jenn
derekv 13 3 England
14 Sep 2007 6:27PM
Great story, great portrait - Love it !
AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 6:38PM
Thanks Jenn and Derek - Alan
ginz04 17 281 20 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 7:04PM
wow this is an excellent portrait - everything about it i like it.
una 17 10 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 7:15PM
Excellent candid and great story.
dianah 14 24.5k 4 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2007 7:37PM
What did I say before about the tongue have done it again! Superb capture..a truly excellent protrait and the story is an epic.
crimp 14 England
14 Sep 2007 7:43PM
Cracking portrait.
AlanBW 15 20 England
14 Sep 2007 8:56PM
Thanks Ian, Una, Di and Kelly, very much appreciated - Alan
glazzaro 16 70 23 United States
14 Sep 2007 9:32PM
He seems to be just the perfect character as those he was spotting, nice shot, Spot on! Click!!!

panda 16 5 1 England
15 Sep 2007 10:29AM
Superb candid shot, excellent detail and expression.

Regards Phil
AlanBW 15 20 England
15 Sep 2007 10:39AM
Many thanks Greg and Phil - Alan
summ3r 14 26 1 United Kingdom
15 Sep 2007 3:23PM
Superb candid, I hope he likes this shot as much as we all doSmile
norton 17 2 6 Jersey
15 Sep 2007 4:56PM
Great story and portrait Alan,sounds like you all had fun!
Well narrated and captured.........

danbrann 16 640 17
15 Sep 2007 5:32PM
What a great story Alan And a great portrait to go with it. You can almost see the wit in his face together with just a hint of mischief.
brownsilent 14 7 2 United Kingdom
15 Sep 2007 5:59PM
A great portrait, well caught, yes. And a good story to go with it as well.
AlanBW 15 20 England
15 Sep 2007 6:21PM
Many thanks Carole-Anne, Tony, Danny and Johanna - Alan
15 Sep 2007 8:02PM
Alan, this is a truly wonderful image, with character just pouring out of the screen. Thanks for the detailed explanation - it makes the image even better! I do so much hope that John is monitoring this site and image!

15 Sep 2007 9:13PM
Good close up, here.

AnthonyR 15 5 Wales
15 Sep 2007 9:28PM
Another superb study, mentioning a conductress takes me back a bit too.

joseph 15 England
15 Sep 2007 11:12PM
This is just so good Alan...Superb exposure and pin sharp. Brilliant work mate...Rgds. Joe.
AlanBW 15 20 England
16 Sep 2007 9:37AM
Thanks Mike, Sue, Anthony and Joseph, much appreciated - Alan
fatmod 14 22 England
16 Sep 2007 11:20AM
superb candid
evelen 16 5 England
16 Sep 2007 3:54PM
another great shot,
bliba Plus
15 2 Austria
16 Sep 2007 3:57PM
very well spotted
ChiliMan 14 135 17 Singapore
16 Sep 2007 4:02PM
Lol...fanTAStic story, Alan. So cool. You really have the best adventures and it's probably 'cos you're such a people person. Superb shot of John too - so well lit!

Andrew Smile
GrahamBaines 13 39 United Kingdom
16 Sep 2007 4:12PM
Nice portrait Alan.

GeorgeRusky 15 1 4
16 Sep 2007 4:16PM
Absolutely stunning portrait, Alan!
Yo are getting perfect in portraiture!
Pleased to see your mastery!
AlanBW 15 20 England
16 Sep 2007 5:23PM
Many thanks Andy, Eve, Ollie, Andrew, Graham and George - Alan
sandrish 17 36 United Kingdom
16 Sep 2007 5:29PM
Super shot, great story and yes he looks like a good "spotter".

Barbaraj 14 450 England
16 Sep 2007 7:22PM
You out manouvered him with this shot. Well caught.
Shroomer 14 14 167 England
16 Sep 2007 9:02PM
Deep in thought here. well captured
AlanBW 15 20 England
16 Sep 2007 9:09PM
Thanks Sandra, Barbara and Richard - Alan
phototime 15 8 United Kingdom
16 Sep 2007 11:11PM
What a fantastic portrait Alan,beautifully shot.

AlanBW 15 20 England
17 Sep 2007 6:46AM
Cheers Mo, much appreciated - Alan
Mavis 19 143 2 England
17 Sep 2007 9:43AM
An excellent portait Alan . Such detail . Whew that narrative is like a young book . Glad you had such fun xxx
KKmoments 14 12 1 United Kingdom
17 Sep 2007 12:13PM
Great candid Alan... isn't it funny when we 'concentrate' we do strange things with our tongue lol... Great description... Karen
AlanBW 15 20 England
17 Sep 2007 12:28PM
Many thanks Mavis and Karen - Alan
17 Sep 2007 1:39PM
Superb Alan, you really are good at these candid shots.... helen x
AlanBW 15 20 England
17 Sep 2007 3:50PM
Cheers Helen, many thanks - Alan
Crazee1ady 13 16
17 Sep 2007 7:35PM
I love your candid shots and very remiss of me dont always pass a comment, I thought this was fantastic as a thumbnail, the expression and detail, reading the story brought it to life so much more :o)
anthhope 15 1 England
17 Sep 2007 8:18PM
Alan, another great capture.
Pegon 15 78 1 England
17 Sep 2007 9:42PM
A superb capture Alan, and I loved reading the story.
great candid nice capture
AlanBW 15 20 England
18 Sep 2007 7:21AM
Many thanks Jan, Anthony, Pete and Sharon - Alan
TonyFrith 14 3 6 United Kingdom
18 Sep 2007 8:57PM
Welcome to e2
great capture
Nigel_95 Plus
15 262 2 United Kingdom
18 Sep 2007 8:58PM
Welcome to E2 Alan. Well timed candid shot of your spotter. I wonder whether you have sown the seed of photography with John.

JimV 14 6 3 Canada
19 Sep 2007 3:26AM
As the 109th, clicker, nothing to add Alan, but just had to tell you how much I liked it, and the description of course!
Rgds., Jim
AlanBW 15 20 England
19 Sep 2007 7:17AM
Many thanks Tony, Nigel and Jim - Alan
Ridgeway 14 222 2 Ireland
19 Sep 2007 9:28AM
I see your fan club is growing day by day,it took ages to scroll down this page,,,,in future I'll just hit the "leave comment button". haha
The story and portrait,briliant.
You have opened my eyes to another part of photography,
People,some we might otherwise just walk right by.Dont have your eye for it,but I am that bit more aware,
Cheers Alan.
AlanBW 15 20 England
19 Sep 2007 10:37AM
Cheers Aidan, much appreciated - Alan
RobinF 14 83 1 England
20 Sep 2007 8:59AM
'Caricature photography' what a great description of what you do best Alan! This is a lovely detailed portrait with a great expression. Enjoyed your write up too, glad you had such a pleasing trip!

kind regards

AlanBW 15 20 England
20 Sep 2007 9:15AM
Many thanks Robin, I liked John's phrase too - Alan
Caledonia 14 2 Scotland
21 Sep 2007 11:32PM
Love this shot ... he looks a real character himself! Excellent lighting on his face. Love the story too... you obviously had a great holiday!
sputnki 16 10 Canada
23 Sep 2007 6:14PM
Marvelous, sounds like a great time had by all and having a 'spotter' sounds like a good idea....

AlanBW 15 20 England
24 Sep 2007 7:56AM
Many thanks Marie and Doug - Alan
24 Sep 2007 9:30AM
Like it! Well taken candid.
AlanBW 15 20 England
24 Sep 2007 10:00AM
Many thanks Benjamin - Alan
Gaz_H 14 150 1 United Kingdom
29 Sep 2007 9:56PM
Congratulations on becoming an EPZ member Alan. Great story.
digital_boi 15 3 6 Scotland
4 Oct 2007 2:10PM
great shot
AlanBW 15 20 England
6 Oct 2007 9:46AM
Many thanks Graham - Alan
mollye 14 3 United Kingdom
10 Oct 2007 4:45PM
Well it sounds as though you all had a brilliant time and your write up is very well written , as for your image the spotter well he looks as if he's thinking of what to do next.... another excellent capture alan
regards Mol
AlanBW 15 20 England
10 Oct 2007 5:05PM
Many thanks Molly - Alan
electricsoup 14 30 England
15 Oct 2007 1:29PM
What a great portrait!
28 Nov 2007 11:27AM
Love your stories. Great portrait.
AlanBW 15 20 England
28 Nov 2007 3:09PM
Thanks Nathan and Tanya - Alan

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