The Secret Shot

by Ant Stone on November 25, 2010

in Malaysia,Reprint

Hands up if you like surprises? Hands up if you like travelling? Hands up if you’ve got three hands?

I’m constantly trying to inject creativity into I do it because I love the genre, and while I do receive some wonderfully humbling comments about my writing, I have also accepted that if I am to grow, my content needs to diversify.

Creative Blog Ideas

Recent attempts have been the SlideShare for, 10 Most Misused Words in Travel Blogs (that was awesome), and the matter-of-fact review of the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which used an Animoto slideshow as its centrepiece.

I’ve tried some lyrical gangster rapping, and in late summer I bent my nib on a series called Colour Vision.

Today, it’s a secret photograph. Everybody say, “Oooooo…”

The Secret Photo

It’s down there, on the right, but don’t click it yet!

It’s a secret photo… shhhh, don’t tell anyone!

I need to explain something first.

The photo you’re about to see is neither shocking, nor particularly striking. It was taken on a footbridge in George Town, Penang, during a mighty downpour. I thought twice about taking the photograph, so when you look at it, it’s worth considering if you would have. Put yourself in my shoes.

I’d also like you to notice the graffiti; this was the spark which led me to take the photo, and I believe it compliments the overall energy of the image.

Behind the Scenes

The reason I hesitated taking the photo, wasn’t just because the photo shows an innocent young boy.

He arrived on the bridge with a young Indian man, perhaps in his late teens. They were obviously homeless and sheltering from the rain. I felt that by taking the photo — and then wandering off — I was letting him down somehow.

Perhaps I did?

And then there’s the real reason. Look closely at what this kid is wearing. It’s disgusting that a child should be made to wear a Manchester United shirt. If it were an Arsenal shirt, he would have looked smart and respectable, but whoever bought him this shirt was quite obviously intending to ridicule him.

Poor chap.

I’m curious to know whether the hidden photo behaves itself on your smart phones and in your RSS readers. My hunch is that it won’t work, in which case I hastily apologise. Perhaps go retro and visit the original post on a computer.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Gillian November 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I love the creative ways you’re branching out – it’s interesting to see one stretch…and it give me inspiration to do the same (in a very small way).
Thank you for the secret photo…I liked hearing your thoughts before I looked and then your feelings around it after I saw the image. Although I subscribe to RSS, I always read content on the sites I visit – I like to get the whole feel when I read someones words. I went back to check the RSS though and the secret photo did work there..although not nearly as elegantly.

Ant Stone November 25, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Inspiration is officially is a key target of, Gillian, so I’m really pleased to receive your comments. Thank you, and thanks also for taking the time to check it out in your reader. That’s good to know — I don’t want the secret inadvertently slipping out!

jamie November 26, 2010 at 9:09 pm

we are always up for a surprise! does this mean all your photos will be secret now?

liked the shot too, and did notice the graffiti. pretty fitting.

i went old school and saw it on an actual computer so can help you out on that one.

cheers, jamie from

Ant Stone November 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Hi Jamie, no, not all photos will be this style. I think I’ll still post the videos, but for images that I believe need a little more time and attention, I’ll consider this style in the future.

Of course, there’s always my Travel Photography page too.

Mawaggali September 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Bed bugs? Are you getting biettn all over? are there very many under your mattress?That or its a cucumber beetle. Their trying to eat the cucumber plants growing under your bed.Next time include a picture.

Andy February 22, 2015 at 6:21 am

It’s not often I take some new information away from renaidg an informational article. I’m sure that’s because most writers tend to write the same thing over and over. You have presented new, fresh ideas.

Nick Laborde November 27, 2010 at 5:02 am

I’m a big fan of your blog and your writing already… and this new idea is no exception. I love it, it made me appreciate the photo more.

Ant Stone November 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Thanks Nick, I’m glad you appreciate the new idea. Look out for some more over the coming months.

Ong September 12, 2014 at 10:28 pm

This information is very usufel, interesting and unique in nature. You have hit on some seriously solid points upon which I can relate. I really like your style and thank you for this great content.

Poi November 27, 2010 at 6:00 am

Surely you mean he should be wearing a tottenham shirt?? 3-2 was it?

Ant Stone November 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm

[Shaking my head]

Elise November 27, 2010 at 8:46 am

We already enjoy reading your posts, and I love this new secret photo idea. I like that you explained the photo beforehand, and your thoughs and feelings about it too. I enjoyed coming up with my own ‘photo’ in my head and then actually seeing the real one. love this new creativity from you!

Ant Stone November 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Thanks Elise, that was my intention. I think in future, I’ll lend a few more lines to building up the mental image, before unveiling it.

Gamze September 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I don’t have time to look through all the picetrus to identify it for you but this site:probably has a picture of one. Poke around and try to find one that matches yours.Good luck and enjoy!

My Kafkaesque life November 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm

The hidden photo doesn’t work in my RSS, but it works pretty fine here. As for taking pics of kids, I’m generally uneasy about it. I’m uneasy about taking pics of people, I usually ask my girlfriend to take some, if there are masses of people. How many times I see someone on the photo (later when I put them on my laptop) giving me a very unpleasant look. Makes me feel I was impolite. I probably wouldn’t the photo above and post it online for a personal reason.

Ant Stone November 28, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Thanks for your comment, MKL. Interesting tactic — hand the camera to your girlfriend so she takes the flack! I might try that one 😉

In all seriousness, I accept your point of view.

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Phil November 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Hi Ant, I stumbled over here after reading a post on Todd’s Wanderings. Your site is .. refreshing. The writing is brilliant and I appreciate your efforts to make your a blog an original, unique experience. Subscribed and look forward to more. B well, Phil

Ant Stone November 28, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Thanks Phil, welcome to Todd had some really kind things to say, I was very pleased to receive his acclamation. Looking forward to hearing more from you over the coming months, if you have any feedback, you’re welcome to share it with me through the comments or contact box in the right hand side bar.

Frank September 12, 2014 at 11:41 am

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Linda November 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I love your continued experimentation in presenting material with a fresh twist, and always enjoy your style of writing…

But I wouldn’t have published this photo, particularly after you took the turn to mock ~
If it were a picture of you at this age it would be totally acceptable as we could all have had a little titter at your expense – It would be with your permission that we laugh ‘with you’ (not at you), and we could all collectively agree what moronic relatives you must have to give you yet another Manchester United shirt to add to your bulging collection!

But displaying this poor boy’s plight of being devoid of any homely comfort or care, other than what he can supply to himself, and then mock what most likely is his sole treasured, hard fought for possession, a western shirt…

I think you not only let the kid down with this one, but also yourself.
(Sorry Ant, but someone’s got to say it 😉

Ant Stone November 28, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Fair point, Linda. I take that on board. In retrospect, I should of let the humour slide, and taken a more empathetic point of view.

Now I’ve had time to reflect, I think if I’d had a conversation with the boy — even just a few fleeting seconds — I wouldn’t have posted it in the same tone. I believe I still would post it, but perhaps taking his point of view.

Well said. Point taken.

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Zablon Mukuba December 1, 2010 at 3:49 pm

i love this post i was hooked from the beginning the photo is really cool, it shouldnt be a secret

Ant Stone December 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Thanks Zablon. It wasn’t a secret for any other reason than to raise curiosity. I’m happy you liked it.

Victoria December 2, 2010 at 1:38 am


Totally would have taken this photo, what a great shot. Love the ‘give peace a chance’ sign, quite appropriate as he looks pretty peaceful himself.

But I’m a Man U supporter….I think his shirt looks good!!

Ant Stone December 2, 2010 at 11:10 am

Thanks Victoria; I should clarify that it was the compliment of the graffiti that triggered the shot.

No comment on your team. Nothing. Not one word. Nada. Zzzzzip.

Tony December 15, 2010 at 11:45 am

Hi Ant

Im taking plenty of photos in Kerala at the moment and get great pleasure from the secret pictures in the crowds, giving a more real insight to street life here. Bold and brave is the way to go! Good on you- It’s all about publicity!

Brooke vs. the World December 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm

You’re a unique one, Ant 🙂 I like the secret photo – made me look!

Ant Stone December 28, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Cheers Brooke. More to come in 2011.

Robin December 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm

A child, obviously drunk, and wearing a Man U top. And you just walk away…..I hardly know where to begin. You disgust me.

Ant Stone December 28, 2010 at 6:15 pm

He wasn’t drunk, so please don’t make wild assumptions. I was there when he arrived. He was happy, he simply sat down to escape the rain, and nodded off.

robin January 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

It was a joke…

Ant Stone January 6, 2011 at 10:48 am

OK. Forgive me, but there have been some quite strong opinions about the photo and the ethical side of it.

robin January 6, 2011 at 11:32 am

Yeah I read back afterwards and can see how my little (otherwise very funny) contribution could have been taken the wrong way. Now its hilarity can shine.
I wouldn’t worry about the preachers although I can see why you might have been taken aback by the response. Your application of humour to situations does not preclude thoughtfulness or ethics. And you are one of the few to ask questions rather than busy yourself manufacturing half baked answers. That is highly ethical.

Sbongile September 11, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Be careful tikang medical advice from Yahoo Answers.Some of the answers to your last question were bizarre, especially the one about masturbation causing torsion of the testis.One testis larger than the other may be a result of mumps, but you should seek proper medical advice about this in your case.Sperm count tests involve examining a fresh semen sample. They are not expensive as tests go, but obviously require some privacy to produce. Talk to your doctor about this.

Tony January 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm

It seems obvious that there are those that look through curiosity and those that look then feel guilty for looking, realising they feel helpless and quite possibly ashamed for looking. Without images like these how can poverty, disease or any manner of mis-fortune be measured against what we have in a thriving modern society. Awarness is the message here and it works well. It’s bold, real and in your face- just as it should be!

There should be more REAL blog images on the www than the glossy “ooo look at those mountians or monkey” images that we are ALL guilty of taking whilst ignoring the realism of what is really going on around us while we tramp around the world blindly oblivious.
Now, it’s not blogging…but it is real travel journalism!
Well done.

Texas City Hotels January 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

To me this photo is striking in that I feel like there is so much sadness and disappointment in a boy that has barely stepped into life. Other than that, I think I would have also taken the photo, though also thinking twice…:) You know, there is something beautiful about sadness so…it’s a beautiful picture with a paradoxic sad effect.

Ant Stone January 12, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I agree, thanks for your insightful comment. Emotion is something very hard to capture; be it elation, or deflation.


If you don’t mind, the next time you leave a comment would you please consider using your name as oppose to your website’s. I understand why you might need to do this, but similarly me and my readers would appreciate it.

For the record, I usually delete comments which use these tactics, but as your comment is a thousand times more relevant to the topic, and is obviously written by a human (rather than a bot), I’ve let it slide.

Val Rover January 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Yes, you’re right. Sorry for that:) and thanks for the reply;) I appreciate it:)

Akila January 14, 2011 at 2:00 am

Ant, I am finally catching up on the last two months of blog posts . . . the holidays were crazy plus we were doing our site redesign and blah blah blah. In any event, I love your creative posts . . . I really do — especially the 10 misused words. The secret photo isn’t one of my favorites but I like the idea nonetheless. Here is my one problem with your site, though: you don’t post enough! Seriously. Where have you been?

Okay, onto the photo. I don’t post shots like this because I worry about posting pictures of children who are not aware of the photo. We post photos of children only when the parents are near the kids and see us taking the picture (and, ideally, we ask their permission before taking the picture usually by pointing and mimicking). More often than not, the parents are delighted that we’re taking the picture but on a few occasions, they have shook their head and said no, and then we haven’t taken the picture.

Ant Stone January 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Thanks as always, Akila. I don’t post enough, you’re absolutely right! Unfortunately I have to prioritise paid work over my site. But in truth, there have been a few other issues behind the curtains which have stalled posts. I’m hoping to get back on track soon.

I LOVE your redesign. Well done, I can see a lot of work has gone into that.

Thanks also for your point of view on the picture of the young Penangite. It’s interesting to hear other people’s points of view on what is a sensitive subject.

Akila January 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Thank you on your compliment! We are really happy with the redesign, as well.

I completely understand about the prioritizing paid work and such. As more people hire me to write, I find myself struggling to keep our blog going on a consistent basis. I wish there was a way to add extra hours in every day so that I could still get enough sleep!

Ant Stone January 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I was contemplating the reason we humans were even designed to sleep.

Couldn’t our manufacturer give us an upgrade? Human 2.0? No sleep; we’d literally have “all the time in the world” to do what pleases us most 🙂

Dan Collins March 20, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I must confess… this is the first time I’ve had a proper look through your site, but your posts are just genius! This one made me laugh especially hard… the three hand joke was awesome. I agree about the Manchester United shirt too… should have been Liverpool 🙂

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