Woman With a Green Hat, Quito

I’m in the process of compiling a selection of street shots for a gallery exhibit proposal, between 20 and 25 images from my six month stay earlier this year in Quito and Bogota, tentatively grouped under the working title “Urban Ballads”. This shot was taken on Palm Sunday near the edge of Quito’s central Plaza Grande, a lively hub of socializing and commerce. This woman was doing both and more during a late afternoon storytelling performance, typical of the multi-tasking you’ll encounter in most plazas and public areas.

It’s an unconventional portrait in that her face isn’t visible — indeed she will forever remain anonymous. That’s one thing that actually drew me back to this shot last night: that its focus isn’t on her as much as it is on her actions and immediate environment. So for now, I’m including it in the exhibit’s first round batch.

Thoughts? Would love to hear ’em.

And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 648th straight, was snapped on 29-Mar-2015 in Quito, Ecuador.


  1. I saw a picture on the Heifer International site — a representative of theirs was talking to women in Quito and every woman in the crowd was wearing bright colors, the same style of hat, and every last one of them was knitting. It was beautiful!

  2. I humbly agree. The take away, what doesn’t appear in the photo is the meat of the story. Even so, it’s a wonderful shot. Cudos.

  3. I have done ethnographic work with Aymara women in Bolivia, who from what I understand share many similarities of Andean culture with Quichua quiteñas. From this perspective, I think that your interpretation of the portrait does do a certain kind of justice to the sense of identity of these women. Their identity, including their beauty and fashion, often revolves around what they can do, with their skills and ingenuity, and how they navigate and dwell in their etorno. Clothes are like a part of women’s bodies and identities that help extend these skills and ways of dwelling, such as their mantas, the useful pockets built into their chompas, the status and the protection from sun that their hats offer. I think some could interpret a faceless picture of an Andean indigenous woman as objectification–as more nostalgic fascination with primitive indigenous culture without actually thinking about the peronshood of the women who proudly, yet sometimes at great cost, bear it on their bodies. And there is some truth to that. Yet at the same time, the aspects of personhood that this photo highlights are precisely what they want to be recognized for: the dignity and beauty of their clothing, their industriousness and creativity, their participation in economic and social life. So I think the portrait, particularly with your captioning thoughts, also conveys respect for this woman.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts, Sari, they’re much appreciated. I’m glad you mentioned respect, because no matter the subject or their circumstances or context, I always try to portray a sense of dignity and/or respect. I think that if a photographer approaches a subject that way, than nothing really is off limits.

    1. Thanks — I was really trying to focus on her hands, mostly knitting, but occasionally stretching out to take some change from someone who made a purchase.

  4. She is so colourful…green hat, pink top, blue shawl, yellow wool for knitting. To me it simply says…”In my own world, doing my own thing and having fun doing it”. A whole lot of possibility of stories in this picture. The Mysterious woman…Lovely!

    1. Thanks — the colors are very captivating. Especially here where she is, as you say, in her own world. And within an even larger busier world.

  5. Hi Bober, I would rather say that the photograph can be attributed with a thought provoking storyline. Though not revealing the identity of the Woman mean that you have portrayed something which is very abstract and thus subjective to multi-faceted interpretation, there is indeed an alarming message that I could probably draw. The photograph for me is something that represent well a woman’s status in the society. She may be a Mother, Sister, Wife, Teacher, Maid, educated, uneducated… She is a storehouse of talents and capabilities. She keep contributing her bit to her family, workplace and society at large… Yet she is noticed seldom. She is often Unknown and remains one in a billion even for those who is most close to her. But she never fails contributing her bit.. Knitting together many lives and telling a unique story which perhaps no one care to hear. This photograph could be a call to awakening… A spark that can set a lot of thoughts and rethinking in to a fanning flame… All the best dear friend.

    1. Many thanks, Gisel, I really do appreciate your thoughts. In fact I might be borrowing some of them in the text that will accompany the photos. 🙂 I particularly like your knitting metaphor. All the best to you as well, and thanks so much for stopping by.

  6. I really like this one! I love the fact that you can’t see her face…as I was studying it I was noting that the story of the shot wasn’t so much HER as what she’s doing (those thoughts were prior to reading your comments).

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