With very little prompting, this group of girls from the Indonesian village of Sangeang were ready to strike a pose for the camera.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 88 mm, 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I rarely photograph people. Not because I have anything specific against the idea, rather I just prefer to focus on nature and wildlife. However, on a recent trip to Komodo National Park in Indonesia, I had the opportunity to visit a nearby village called Sangeang where the locals are known for their boat building skills. Seeing them crafting large wooden vessels (called Phinisi) by hand, was an interesting experience.

But the children who followed us around like groupies were, for me, the highlight of our brief visit. Though I am certain they have had foreigners strolling their narrow streets many times before, we were still sufficiently novel that we were accompanied by our newfound entourage everywhere we went. One group of girls in particular were a delight — changing their demeanor from one moment to the next to reflect shyness, inquisitiveness, boldness, boredom, and ease. To my surprise, every time I lifted my camera to take a picture, they suddenly froze, and then stared down the lens in amazingly photogenic fashion. They enjoyed seeing their likenesses when I showed them the pictures I was taking on my camera’s LCD.

As our group returned to the beach and prepared to board the dinghies, the setting sun hung low on the horizon and everything was bathed in a warm golden light. The girls bunched together for a few final photos and I was fortunate to capture the image shown above. If you look closely at their faces, you’ll see a range of expressions which perfectly capture the way the girls acted around us: sweet, confident, reserved, tough and enthusiastic.

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