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Mighty men and little boys

Mighty men and little boys
Photo Information
Copyright: Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9534 W: 511 N: 18548] (82252)
Genre: People
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 1982-03
Categories: Daily Life, Architecture, Event
Photo Version: Final Version, Original Version
Date Submitted: 2015-02-27 4:07
Viewed: 4688
Points: 94
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This is a repost of a photo I took towards the end of a long journey through West Africa during the winter of 1981 to 1982. I did not like the colours of the old version and I am still not quite satisfied, but at least this is a little bit better.

I was on my way to Lagos, Nigeria, from where I would catch a flight back home. But before I crossed into Nigeria I spent just over a week in Benin, visiting among other places Porto Novo, the small capital city a short distance east of the major city and commercial hub Cotonou.

Walking through a village on the shore of a lagoon on the outskirts of Porto Novo I met these men and boys. I have no clear memories of taking this shot but I guess I just asked for a photo and they kindly obliged. The boys were clearly more than happy to be included.

I have scanned this from a Kodachrome slide. If you click in the box to the right you can see the original version.

Here is a larger version.

daddo, COSTANTINO, Hansaphotos, ourania, PaulVDV, annjackman, annjackman, ManuMay, edge, photoray, jhm, Royaldevon, adramad, kordinator, mirosu, adores, worldcitizen, nikkitta, ChrisJ, mcmtanyel, clic has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To daddo: noteholmertz 5 2015-02-27 10:32
To PaulVDV: coloursholmertz 2 2015-02-27 10:41
To saxo042: tackholmertz 1 2015-02-28 08:25
To emka: no photosholmertz 1 2015-03-01 04:30
To SnapRJW: greenholmertz 1 2015-03-03 08:34
To iainsp: thanksholmertz 1 2016-11-20 05:59
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • daddo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3581 W: 114 N: 6351] (28698)
  • [2015-02-27 4:24]
  • [+]

Hi Gert. I think you had the same problem as I did of not having the note included. How did you solve the problem? Great shot of the proud men and the cheeky boys.Love the "organic" housing. Klaudio.

Good morning dear Gert and
have a nice weekend
your photos are a real treasure for you and for
us excellent photo shsowing a different
tradition and a different way of living
welldone and wellseen

Hello, Gert,
Yes, I see the TE has got some problems today.

Another another amazing report from the heart of Africa. But how did you recognize what they prefer for dinner? Some people could be happy to meet fresh white delicacy ;) Anyway, this is very interesting and informative publication.
Best wishes,

Ciao Gert, lovely composition with nice family, wonderful colors, excellent clarity and splendid light, very well done, my friend, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Hei Gert

Et meget fint bilde fra dagliglivet i dette afrikanske landet som vi ikke hører så mye fra. Fargene er tydelig bedre på dette enn på originalversjonen. Haugen med bildekk står i kontrast til stråhytten i bakgrunnen. Du har klart å få fram ekte glede og fine smil. Utrolig fint bilde:)

Hilsen Erling

Hello Gert! Wonderful men. Amazing boys. Fine scene. Superb scenery and background. Sophisticated colours. Wonderful image from 1982. Very good quality. Well done!

Hello Gert,
this is a lovely and interesting portrait of three young men and three little boys. I like very much the way they influenced the result with their spontaneity and attitudes. The little boys are such fun to watch, their interaction with each other and with you is delightful. I like the arrangement too, the most confident person in the middle of the frame and the others well distributed around him. The backdrop is eloquent and interesting too. The colours look like those of old documetary pictures but the scene is so vivid, that we establish a contact with the people right away. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a great weekend,

Hello Gert,
The picture looks much clearer than the other (original) version. I think the people on the foreground are better presented here. But do you not think there is a greenish hue on the reed roof at the right? Or is that only on my screen?
It is a bit of a funny picture with the guy in the middle in his tough stance and with the little boys at the right acting for an action movie.
Imagine that they find their picture after so many years here on this site. Once I had a reaction of someone who said his friend was on my picture :)
Best regards, Paul

Hi Gert,
The colours may not be correct but it is the composition that matters here. It is a very good record of village life and so nice to see that the group were relaxed and willing to have their photo taken. A very enjoyable picture.
Kind Regards, Ann

  • Great 
  • Fis2 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11388 W: 163 N: 19106] (140915)
  • [2015-02-27 12:22]

Witaj Gert!
Very nice scene.
Good frame and fantastic colors.
Well done.
Good night

Dobro vece.
Dobar rad skeniranjem slajda, lepo pokazani mladi ljudi u narodnoj nosnji i deca.
Lepa fotografija sa vaseg putovanja.
Dobro vece i sve najbolje za vikend, srecno.

Good evening.
Good work by scanning slides, beautifully displayed by young people in folk costumes and children.
Beautiful photos from your trip.
Good evening and all the best for the weekend, good luck.

Hello dear Gert,
Another "historical" one in your gallery. The boys must be now around their fourties.
The two men at the center with their traditional costumes seemingly enjoyed to be phootgraphed.
Many interesting notes about this perfect scan.
TFS and have a nice weekend

HI Gert!

Even scanned it looks well, good document from what was real life there...I would like to know today...same photo so many years later...and how the world, our world...their world, has changed!!

Great capture!!

Best regards...


  • Great 
  • edge Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 753 W: 34 N: 2205] (7409)
  • [2015-02-27 14:18]

Hello Gert,

I think we may have met before on TE, and I want you to know that I really enjoyed the smile and gestures of this happy group of people. I guess they were posing for you and they did well at that. The colors are very good, with maybe some of the green not quite natural.

I have converted many slides to digital in the past few years and have recovered about 2,000 slides that I have saved. I have found some colors hold better than others, and Kodachrome is better than Agfa, Ektachrome and several others. My earliest slides were from the 50s.

It is a pleasure to see that these fine pictures are not lost but viewable to all. Nice job.

I see you have traveled to many lands. Regards, Roger

Howdy Gert,

Interesting candid of the Benin men in colorful garments and the adjacent playful boys, with the classical thatch houses background.

Well done,
PS: Thank you for the suggestion on not using apostrophes.

Ciao Gert
il sorriso di queste persone è gioviale e, come sempre, i bambini danno tutto il loro meglio per farsi notare.
Buon we

  • Great 
  • PiotrF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 4685 W: 2 N: 8500] (40906)
  • [2015-02-27 17:20]

Hello Gert,
very nice daily life scene with warm colours a very nice composition.
Colors in this photo are more interesting than the older version.Very good presentation.

  • Great 
  • Nicou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 15362 W: 0 N: 16877] (186776)
  • [2015-02-27 21:36]


Mervielleuse iamge et compo quelle scène et vue quelle iamge et cpatage avec ces homme et leur beaux cosutmes ces jeune quelle couleur et posture splendide.
Bravo et amitié

Hello Gert,

Wonderful group portrait of this group from Benin.Excellent image quality with great clarity and sharpnesse.TFS.


Hi Gert
Smiles and natural poses - it is clear that they were comfortable with the idea of you taking this photo. The boys seem to be delighted to have been included.
I like the setting with the timeless huts and the motor tyres indicating the image was taken some time in... 20th or 21st century. :)
Best wishes

At least one of the guys is wearing modern footwear, the flip-flop. But I know that even today there are still people in some of parts of the world that are way behind in culture, very sad. But the look happy with big smiles. Nicely captured with good details. Well done, tfs.

  • Great 
  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 26033 W: 522 N: 44528] (189937)
  • [2015-02-28 7:17]

Hello Gert,

The techniques are a lot better the last years, your picture is very nice.
Wonderful family picture.
Composition and presentation are lovely.
Very well done, TFS

Have a nice weekend,

Hej Gert,
Jag kände omedelbart igen den här bilden, en ypperligt komponerad bild vari alla kopierar formerna av husen, med sina ställningar. En bild som är väl värd att visas igen, nu med bättre färger. Jag förstår att det är vissa promblem med TE och jag ser ju själv att man numera inte klarar av annat än engelska bokstäver, absolut inte å, ä och ö, något störande faktiskt. Konstigt, det fungerade ju tidigare. Men hur som helst, en bra bild!
PS När jag skickat iväg kritiken ser jag att det nu fungerar med ö,ä och ö. Men lösningen gäller tydligen inte retroaktivt...

  • Great 
  • rychem Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 4119 W: 0 N: 9820] (66923)
  • [2015-02-28 21:38]

This here is a beautiful scene, great group portrait of these proud men, fantstic qality of this scnned photo
reards Ryszard

  • Great 
  • emka Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11549 W: 123 N: 29379] (138524)
  • [2015-03-01 4:06]
  • [+]

Hi Gert, When I was in school (in early sixties) I had to learn by heart all African countries ordered by the year of independence and with capitals. But then it was Dahomey. And who goes there? Only 5 pages of photos on TE. Did you go there as a backpacker, like to Asia, or were you already young journalist collecting materials for publication? If you had better health, would you go for such a journey now? I can decide for a trip to Asia or Americas in a few minutes but I am afraid of Africa.
Beautiful picture, the men have funny traditional dresses and kids are like kids everywhere, having a lot of fun posing for you.
I noticed curious thing. You have photos from so many countries but not from Norway.
WArm regrads MAlgo

Hello Gert,

This is certainly a much warmer version.
I just love the proud, stance of the men, whilst the boys have that mischievousness, common to most youngsters whatever their b/g.
Those huts are great examples of bush craft!

It would be great to be able to show this photograph to the subjects!

Have a great day,
Bev :-)

Bonjour Gert,

J aime beaucoup cette photo car elle raconte une histoire. Le jeune homme qui bombe fierement le torse avec toute sa famille autour.

Bon dimanche


Hello Gert.
A beautiful composition and a very good job of scanning, a good portrait of this group of people in front of their habitats, I love especially children, with that expression of joy and entertainment.
Very well done. I like it.
Have a good start to the week.
Best wishes.

  • Great 
  • Graal Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9445 W: 262 N: 3084] (103038)
  • [2015-03-02 0:40]

Hello Gert,
interesting and nice documental photo from your archive. Fine scene. I like the smiles and portraits. Nice series from Africa. Super quality of scan.
Have a nice week.

Dear Gert
Excellent composition with nicegroup portrait.
Wonderful natural colors, excellent clarity and splendid light.
Very atmospheric image from your archive.
Kind regards

  • Great 
  • mirosu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1572 W: 0 N: 3418] (16313)
  • [2015-03-02 3:08]

Hi Gert,
Another splendid, well arranged daily life photo from Africa. Excellent viewpoint. According to my experience the Africans are like the Asians (with some exceptions), they like to be photographed. The smiling faces are beautiful.
Very well done.

Hello Gert,

I love the machismo here, especially from the man in the middle and his sure grin. The boys make a nice addition as well, acting it up for you and your camera.

Thanks for your welcome back - I did not intend a long absence, but it seems to have become one!


  • Great 
  • berek Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7512 W: 201 N: 7196] (50508)
  • [2015-03-02 22:28]

Dear Gert
Mervielleuse iamge and composition what scene and view what iamge and cpatage with these rights and their beautiful colors cosutumes these young and beautiful posture.
All teh Best
Burak Erek

Hello Gert - I see that you haven't managed to upload a new shot yet.... bugs!

The two men pictured here look fantastic in their vividly patterned clothing. The one looking directly at the camera looks quite imposing and I can imagine that he is a man who rise up through the tribal ranks to become a leader. The boys are like boys the world over basking in the limelight of your attention!

I love the backdrop, it speaks of verdant tropical growth and good use made of local materials. The large dwellings look so neatly made.

I think the shot has a slight green cast perhaps?

Hope you manage to upload soon. Things seem a bit better than they have been.

Warm regards


  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 13313 W: 125 N: 23838] (119799)
  • [2015-03-03 13:39]

Hi Gert,now the colors seems better,but are still typical of the film fo 89's...a great memory another time,the guys seems happy to be models for you,i like it! Have a nice day and thanks,Luciano

  • Great 
  • adores Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5733 W: 64 N: 11349] (46979)
  • [2015-03-03 15:00]

Hi Gert,
Togo and Benin are on my top list for a long time. I miss Africa already, these little houses, the people, the land... Very nice photo - I like their faces, the patterns of the clothes and the houses in background. Another great old shot.

Hello Gert,
I was trying to critique this photo for a couple of days... It's an interesting scene. We can see the differences between the younger boys and the older men. I like the traditional clothes, and the traditional structures behind them. You've had a lot of international adventures, and I enjoy seeing them here on TE. :-)

Hi Gert
Oh jolie photo, un scan de grande qualite, tant dans les détails, les couleurs, magnifique
Belle journee

Hello Gert,

very fine picture from Benin showing this very interesting scenery. I like your composition and the sharpness of the shot.You have shared here a picture full of atmosphere.TFS.

With regards fromLUxembourg


Hola Gert

This capture is the dream of a photographer, everybody is proud ( just 3 boys and 3 men) of you taken the photo, not so easy nowadays
And quite agree with the title of this, once more historical capture
Warm regards and good work


  • Great 
  • ChrisJ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 15527 W: 1055 N: 32393] (150784)
  • [2015-03-20 6:30]

Hi Gert

At first glance the pair of seated men in a colorful robe, the image appears to depict Siamese twins. The posing boys at right are a hoot and almost succeed in stealing the show from the centred adults. Good sharpness and a superb daily life scene. Excellent color, framing and saturation. Tfs.

Hi Gert,
I am a great admirer of the quality of your scans. They are better than my current photos and you have taken them so many years ago! Great scene captured here. It is interesting how digital photography has shaped our view now -you can now check the photo and try again if someone closes eyes or makes bad face. In the past you did not have a second chance so if you managed to get it first time -that was really an art! You got it here very well first time! I like the scene.
Very well done,

Hello Gert,
This is a gorgeous portrait of these proud people. Excellent composition, TFS!

  • Great 
  • clic Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2764 W: 0 N: 3401] (22672)
  • [2015-04-17 13:02]

Hallo Gert
I consider you accomplished a neat job, compared to the original shot, handling the correction software of your scanner.
Those smiley faces compose an attractive family picture.
Thanks for showing and Viele Grusse!

Hi again Gert,
Wonderfully captured life in Porto Novo. It gives the viewers an idea what daily life looked there.. They didn't have a lot, but they were happy!

Greetings Gert,

I have a fabulous book on the History of African Photography - and this shot would fit perfectly in to that book as part of a line of itinerant and studio based West-African photographers. I can see why you might be a little unhappy with the colours - the sky did not come out particularly well and the greenery on the rooftops could be better - but the colour and detail on the people and their clothing is fantastic. Maybe a much tighter crop and larger ratio of width:length on the frame? By the way, an alternate title (depending on the impression you are trying to convey) might be 'Big Men and Little Boys'. The phrase Big Man tends to have a well-understood, political connotation throughout much of the continent, referring to someone who wields influence from title and position.

Anyway, a great shot which I really like,


  • Great 
  • jmdias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11219 W: 174 N: 20535] (90568)
  • [2017-06-22 2:48]


nice view of the huts covered with palm leaves and a green liana while in FG we can see the proud adults and the kids making fun with the camera. curious they used the same fabric to their clothes, a way to save money as usual in the times of pioneers here in my hometown. I crossed this country by air. here I have an idea how it is.



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