I'd walked past this man many times, greeting him with a 'Julley,' to which he always responded with a great smile and nod of the head, and often a 'Julley' also. I'd even inspected some of his motley collection of wares but had finally declined to buy anything after finding one of his bracelets emblazoned with 'aloha', which I assume is not a Ladakhi word. He seemed unperturbed; in fact, he seemed delighted I'd even bothered to stop and take a look.
We continued to greet each other with smiles and Julleys, and on my last day in Leh I asked if I might photograph him. He beamed and nodded and the moment I turned the camera towards him he stopped smiling. I couldn't get him to smile in any of the series of photographs, but as soon as I'd finished and thanked him, that wonderful smile returned. This is why I consider this a failure as a portrait -- it might look O.K. but it doesn't express the personality I encountered.
I'm now back in the Pohangina valley after a very long and tiring journey. Recovering my strength will take some time, but otherwise I'm fine.
All content © 2014 Pete McGregor