Ted Kozak – The Unknown
“I met this elder man in Como, Italy. He was selling flowers in local market and as soon as I saw him sitting between the stands with flower and flower seeds I instantly wanted to do a portrait. This time all conversation was based on smiles. He was smiling all the time to every question of mine followed by loads of hand signals. I was trying to ask him what was his name, how is he, is he enjoying this sunny afternoon but in the end of this “conversation” there was not much to say, though I am very happy – I got his name! Quite good for non Italian speaking person like me. Finally I just have to say that his name is Domenico, he sells flowers and he’s the owner of one of the widest smile I have ever seen. Thank you, Domenico!”
I met Sylvester week before Christmas in over snowed Southport walking in a mall. I was really tempted to do his portrait so I asked him. He instantly agreed but asked me to be very quick. He said he’s busy and he needs to do some things. When I asked him if he likes the unusual amounts of snow this season he replied that he haven’t seen Christmas so white for about 50 years. It’s not usual for him at all. Sylvester is proud of his name. It’s Welsh. Moreover this name was given for him after a person who saved his fathers life in the first World War. Now that’s something to be proud of. Isn’t it? After photographing Sylvester he asked me to show the picture and was really mixed up when I said it was film and I couldn’t do that. Though in the end he was really happy to have this short conversation. Thank you, Sylvester!
I met this man last Saturday while visiting Italy. In the small town named Como he was sitting on the bench reading some documents. With all my courage I approached him and started my Italian talk in signs. It wasn’t easy to convince him to do his portrait. He was sure I was asking him to do mine, but in the end he smiled through the corner of his hat and gladly posed. Later I thought I should get him to say his name but messed up my words and asked him “come stai?” instead of asking “qual è il tuo nome?” and got his short answer “Benne”. Just after couple of minutes walking away from him I understood that I asked him how he was instead of his name and got his short answer “Good” so his name is not Benni as I thought. Finally I don’t know his name but I am sure I got his wide Italian smile and loads of good emotions.
Sometimes when you meet someone to make a portrait of, it’s not always a voice confirmation that you get as an acceptance. I met Abdul standing next to the pharmacy with big boxes in his hands. When I asked him for a portrait, he wasn’t saying much, but just moment after this I saw a sinister smile on his face and a slight nodding. He wasn’t sure but he was enjoying it in the end. Abdul is a medicine delivery man to some of the pharmacies around and he was waiting because he came here too early. He doesn’t like to be late as he said. “People need medicine every day so I need to be on time”. Abdul enjoys this city. He has work and keeps himself busy here. And dark winter days doesn’t bother him too much. “That’s the way it is and you become used to that and be positive”, he adds.
I met Momodou Ceesay next to the train station. He had the biggest smile on the street so it was hard to miss him. Momodou is 65 years old and he’s acknowledged artist. He does paintings. Originally he is from Gambia, but whole his life he spent in different parts of the world. He studied in United States, then moved to France to get another degree there. He really enjoyed being photographed and desperately waited to get the actual picture. He asked me to do it in my best skills and not to worry about the time. “We are artists. And to do something good we all need time so don’t hurry, take your time.”, he said. He was very nice and in his best spirits, so it was very nice experience to meet this man. Best luck, Momodou!
“Are you a true Christian Ted?” was a first question Mr John asked me when I approached him with suggestion to do his portrait. While I was photographing him, there were loads of other questions. When you became Christian? What type of Christian are you? Which Churches are you visiting? But even asking all those not day to day questions he was shining with positivity and warmth. That’s why he chose to advertise Christianity in Speakers’ Corner. He suggested to become real, and strong Christian. To open your heart for it. I done his portrait and wished him good luck on his believing and the ways to express it. He needs it, because people are so doubtful today.
more images on Ted’s website