Evl Jon is one of those interesting characters you will meet in Johannesburg. One day I was out with a class in Maboneng, teaching visual composition and I walked into him. I asked whether I can take his portrait. He agreed and I took him aside for a few character portraits.
Instead of posing him, I asked questions about his life. Then while interviewing, started taking portraits of him. Every now and then refining my angle and asking him to turn slightly, or maybe look at the camera. My aim was to capture his true expressions. I came away with probably 70 images, all shot with a 45mm tilt-shift.
I think he enjoyed my camera’s attention and spoke with lots of facial expression and gestures. Despite his seemingly malevolent appearance, I found him a sensible and interesting character. It seems he was brought up in a “normal” home and had a proper high school education. He sees himself as an artist. To earn a living, he would make little cartoon sketches of himself, which he would sell on the streets. He also sells marijuana, because after my quick photo session, I gave him some money, to which he replied that he attempted to sell marijuana the previous evening, and couldn’t make a dime. He was very grateful for my donation.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I asked him about art. His reply was interesting. I forgot his exact wording, but he was saying something in the line of “How can you create something beautiful in such a fucked-up world”.
I don’t agree with his statement, but contemplating his philosophy provided me with some serious food for thought. And at that note, let me share a series of character portraits of Evl Jon:
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I hope you enjoyed these character portraits of Evl Jon and whether you agree with his philosophy about art? Leave a comment below!