Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 6, 2010

The Language of Faces

I love faces. One of the things I enjoy most about travel is the opportunity to see and to study new faces. Every face is unique and has a story to tell. I am committed to learning the language of faces — the script that is used to record the experiences of a lifetime on the small canvas of the human face. I am also learning to recognize the handwriting of the various authors that compete for the pen that writes the story. You can look at some faces and know that hardship wrestled the pen away from comfort to write a mournful tale across furrowed brows and downcast eyes. Pain and loneliness also have recognizable penmanship that often erase smiles and dim countenances. And, it’s not difficult to decipher the message written collaboratively by joy and peace. These writers have a very distinctive and bright script.

In addition to photos of my family, I have photographs of faces I have seen around the world on display in my home and office. Photographs of faces are my favorite travel souvenirs. They remind me to pray for those I’ve met and to continue to serve them as Jesus would. I have learned over the years that God can use us to make a difference in the lives of others if we will dip our pen in the inkwell of love, service, and encouragement. God can use us to write joyful messages across forlorn faces and to put the bold exclamation mark of hope on the gray canvas of despair. We can choose what we will write, but should always remember that others will read what we write — on the faces of our children, those with whom we work, and those we meet on life’s journey.

Determine to look at faces a little more intentionally — asking God to help you read what is written there and also to notice what is not yet written there. And then, allow Him to use you to add a few lines that can make a difference. Study the language of faces and do all that you can to improve your penmanship. Here are just a few of the thousands of photographs I have taken on my travels and that are now on display in my home and office.

Kashmiri Woman

Rickshaw Walla

Gujarati Woman

Sukuma Man

Pakistani Man

Kui Greeting

Tarahumara Girl

Tsataan Man

Kui Woman

Bengali Smoker

Bengali Man

Dongba Priest

Tsataan Girl

Bengali Beggar
Darfur Girl


  1. I love your photography, the fact that many of the choices depict the elderly. Their wrinkles – the roadmap of longevity.

    When I was five years old I learned to count to 100 in Spanish whilst seated on the lap of a woman who was 96 years old. She would start the count, “uno” and I would say “dos”. When we reached 100 she would laugh, showing the two top front teeth which remained in her mouth.

    I still love and remember, Tulitas’ face. It was a warm brown face, with merry little eyes.

    Tammy Swofford

    • Thanks, Tammy. And thanks for sharing your remembrances of Tulita. I too, love and remember the faces of wonderful old abuelitas like her.

  2. Thanks for the valuable post. Every face has to say something, even thou they do not have an opportunity to say. You are absolutely right!! Those faces are help us to reminds and think about them. As our human nature, we forgot many faces too.

    Thanks once again, for good post!

    Mortuza Biswas

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