Korean BBQ

Beef on the grill at Han Gook Guan, in Colombo. February 2023.

Portrait of Unemployment

Naattamis (a sort of Sri Lankan urban stevedore, employed to unload produce from lorries in Colombo’s main market district of Pettah) usually begin work before dawn, hauling heavy sacks of vegetables, potatoes, and dry goods on their distinctive two-wheeled carts, labouring until late morning to keep the wholesale stores of the market stocked. But the unprecedented economic downturn in the country has seen an agricultural system scuppered by fertiliser shortages, and transportation hampered by infrequent fuel supplies. The result is a drastic reduction of produce entering the capital from distant farms and fishing towns. When I took this picture at 7.30am, on 4th Cross Street, these naattamis should have been busily racing up and down the narrow warren of lanes; instead, they were sitting around without work, fearing there would be no more that morning, and very little the next day. Pettah, September 2022.

• 35mm • f/2.8 • 1/500 • ISO400 • Canon R6 & RF 35/1.8 courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.

Stay Home, Stay Safe #2

A mobile phone vendor, on Olcott Avenue, in Colombo, in April 2018. For small businessmen such as he, dependent on each day’s take of sales, staying home during the corona pandemic is not an option. These vendors are too small to compete online, and rely on walk-in customers; in this man’s case, mostly commuters from the nearby Fort Railway Station, the city’s main rail hub. Long lockdowns, restrictions on travel, and pressure on the public to stay home, a full year into the crisis, have made a huge dent in earnings for many like him.

Shoe Shop in the Pettah, Sri Lanka #5

Shops in the Pettah #5 by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com
A tiny shop, not much larger than a walk-in closet, sells shoes, bags, and other other leather goods; on Olcott Avenue, close to the Fort Railway Station, in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. April 2018.

Rush Hour Breakfast

Rush Hour Breakfast by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com
Kendha on Chatham Street in the Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. September 2016.

In the Corners

Corner Sales by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com

An ancient woman sells little daily essentials — from ballpoint pens to Panadol pills to soap and boiled sweets — to office workers from a makeshift stall in the shelter of the Bristol Building, on the corner of Prince and York Streets, in the Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. September 2016.

  • 600D+EFS24/2.8@1/500,f/2.8,ISO400
  • The Pagoda Tea Rooms

    The Pagoda Tea Rooms by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com

    Number 130, Chatham Street; the famous Pagoda Tea Rooms, which opened in 1884 in the Colombo Fort, and immortalised by Duran Duran in their 1982 music video, Hungry Like the Wolf. Sri Lanka, September 2016.

  • 600D+EFS24/2.8@1/640,f/2.8,ISO400