Towel Man

Selling Towels.

We all gotta earn a living.

Some people sell food. Some people sell water and soft drinks. Some people sell beer and booze. Some people sell little toys. The latest people on the scene sell small towels.


Yep. It’s hot out there. You need something to wipe the sweat off your face. To wipe down your hands. Sometimes your feet. Some people bring larger towels from home. You’ll see them wrapped around their heads. These towels are really the size of wash clothes. They fit easily in a front pocket. I keep one there and in my camera bag.

All of these street vendors are pretty smart businessmen. They buy wash clothes for 19 cents at someplace like the Dollar Store. They sell them for a buck. That’s some markup. That’s what they all do, no matter the product. One guy buys water at Sam’s for 29 cents a bottle and sells it for a buck. They have no permits. Nobody bothers them. Even the police. And, they don’t ask much for whatever the sell. It’s easy to reach into your pocket for a dollar bill. They do a volume business.

The picture. He was rolling by. I made the picture. I bought a towel. I made some tighter pictures. A fist bump later, we were both good. I did bring him to the foreground in post production using burning and dodging techniques, the digital equivalent to what I used to do in the wet darkroom in the days of film.

Pro tip. If you are working an event in some manner — call it street photography, photojournalism, or documentary photography — keep a roll of one dollar bills in your pocket. Buy something from the person of your street portraiture dreams and make a friend.



Leave a Comment

  1. I love this. The photography (of course) but also how you always show respect to the folks whom you photograph. It’s amazing how the golden rule of simple courtesy can go a long way. In my humble opinion, I think sadly many “photographers” become so engrossed in what they are photographing, they forget basic manners. Thank you – as always – for sharing some of your experiences with us. I may not often comment, but always look forward to each and every post đŸ™‚
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Takami. I try to be kind to the people that I photograph. One of my oldest mentors says that you should leave your subjects feeling better than they were before you met and photographed them. It’s sometimes hard to do a second lines because you are working in a crowd with a lot of pushing and shoving just because everybody is so tightly packed. But, we all respect each other.

    Take care, Ray


  3. I love the entrepreneurial spirit in people who recognize a need and figure out a way to make a healthy buck! I wouldn’t have thought of towels, but that’s rather brilliant! Good advice on having a few dollars to contribute. I think I’d have bought one myself, perhaps simply admiring the creativity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are unlicensed vendors selling everything at second lines. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I first saw little towels. They do help in our normal heat and humidity. I wish they were bigger so that they could be draped around the neck. Maybe I’ll do that. Heh!


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