Category Archives: Portraiture

New Gallery: Portraits Of Médecins Sans Frontières Staff In Laos

For three months during the beginning of 2013 I was with a team from MĂ©decins Sans Frontières* and photographed in the hospitals and health centers in the Houaphan Province in north-eastern Laos. What most people don’t know about MSF is that they aren’t just staffed by doctors and nurses. They bring in all types of specialists in order to carry out their mission.

photo Médecins Sans Frontières

Jon! Come have some tea with Mohan and me…

What I’m quite upset about was that I did not get the chance to photograph the national staff: our Lao and Hmong counterparts for which the project would have never begun. All together an amazingly talented team and truly a special group of people.

See the new gallery here.

*That’s Doctors Without Borders for the American readers.

Portraits Of Médecins Sans Frontières Staff In Laos.

Also posted in Black and White Photography, Humanitarian Photography, Jon Witsell Photographic Arts Tagged |

Bangkok Personalities: Bestu Varas

So… technically, my Bangkok Personalities posts are about someone I find interesting and interact with. In this post, however, I found the situation interesting but the only interaction that happened was getting scowled at by an Indian holy man. And no, his name isn’t Bestu Varas…

Photo Bestu Varas

That was Laotian, I’m Hindu. What part of that don’t you get?

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Also posted in Color Photography, Travel

Bangkok Personalities: Angie In Black And White And Color

I’ve always been interested in the spectrum of sexual identities and in Thailand observations are more easily made than elsewhere. Ladyboys, or Kathoey are quite common and are referred to as the Third Sex. Somewhere betwixt and between a male and female, their appearance can be quite stunning. As far as I can tell, anything between growing long hair and wearing feminine clothing to full on sexual reassignment surgery counts. As if someone were counting. I’m not.

(Rollover the images to compare.)

So, being the naturally inquisitive person that I am, I went online and met Angie and asked if we could trade her time for my photographs for her portfolio. She models, and sadly also works as an escort. She doesn’t want to be an escort, but the modeling pays very little and being an escort a considerable sum more. Especially since she is a full post-op ladyboy. I take it that that is a little bit rarer in amongst the very large population of ladyboys in Thailand. So, an impromptu meeting was set up and we shot for an hour or so. I was quite taken aback by her appearance.  Read More»

Also posted in Black and White Photography, Color Photography, Travel Tagged , , |

Henry Rollins Portrait

Henry Rollins Portrait

My name’s Henry and you’re here with me now!

Henry Rollins. Is there anything more to say? I just love this portrait of him. Just perfectly exemplifies the intense nature of his personality. I just wish I had had the foresight to go see a Black Flag show when they were touring. The first twenty seconds of the song Damaged I is just blindingly intense. Hell, the entire song is out of control.

I do really enjoy his spoken word shows, especially when he went to Australia and did Henry Rollins: Live in the Conversation Pit. Next time he tours I’m definitely going to see him.

Important: I’ve searched, but I could not find an attribute or credit for who took this photograph. If you can show that you took this photograph and want it credited or removed, I’ll do so immediately. Send me an email here.


Also posted in Black and White Photographers, Black and White Photography

Bangkok Personalities — Ampoin

He’s a little gaunt, maybe even severe. And he salutes me—and I don’t get saluted often. Hardly ever. I guess that’s not surprising. So on my first jet-lagged day in Bangkok I was a bit caught off guard to find myself saluted by a very serious man dressed suspiciously like a police officer.

bankok personalities ampoin

Bankok Personalities — Ampoin

What was it? Maybe my shaved head, suggesting military? Maybe It’s the two-toned, collared shirt that I’m wearing. If you are somewhat color blind and squint at it a bit, you might think it was one of the military shirts worn by the guards at the US Embassy, which is just down the road from my hotel. Head, shirt, both, neither. I couldn’t tell.

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Also posted in Color Photography, Travel Tagged , , |

Bangkok Personalities — Tom

Goddamnmotherfuckingsonofabitch—fuck-me-that-hurts. That’s my response. Under duress. I’m responding to Tom, whom I’ve met on the long end of three minutes earlier. I’m in Lumpini Park, Bangkok, getting in a morning bodyweight workout. He’s there… well, to kick my ass, Thai massage style.

Bangkok Personalities Tom

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Also posted in New Project, Travel Tagged , |

New Project: Bangkok Personalities

bangkok personalities intro


I’ve been meeting some interesting people here in Thailand and have decided to do a Bangkok Personalities project: describe people that I happen to meet that strike me as interesting, and shoot a portrait or two of them. The first will be posted soon, take a look!

The image above? Not a person, but something I ate that was really good: Daikon radish pickled with soy sauce (among other things). Yum!

 Bangkok Personalities.

Also posted in New Project, Travel Tagged , |

From The Archive: Sadness On Her Face

Jon Witsell's Photograph Of A Woman Titled Sadness On Her Face

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Sadness On Her Face is a photo of a woman I once knew. She was a neighbor, and we would go out drinking often. But underlying her normal outgoing and strong personality, ever so rarely I would sense a hint of sadness, a wearing-down. It was never something you could grasp looking head-on. But if you paid close attention, you might catch it as her words in a sentence trailed off, or in a slightly too-long-held look as she glanced out a window. She was a stunningly beautiful African-American woman, and I photographed her a lot. I had quite a crush on her–alas, it wasn’t reciprocated. As I look back at those images, they are mostly just snapshots of her across a bar table or in a restaurant. But this photo is different.

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Also posted in From The Archive

Portrait Photos at Bellingham Homeless Connect

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This last friday I photographed portraits at the Bellingham/Whatcom County Project Homeless Connect event.

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Also posted in Humanitarian Photography