The closest equivalent of this Portuguese word saudade in English can be “melancholy” or “yearning”. We’ve heard of so-called “untranslatable” words. Well, there’s no exact English equivalent for saudade. Portuguese themselves are unable to easily describe the word. One writer defines it as a constant vague desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.
I first vaguely noticed someone hovering in front of the restaurant just outside the clear wide window glasses where I was having lunch. The emaciated young man finally caught my probing eyes. I was uncertain whether he briefly smiled to me or at me, although there was no denying that his eyes earnestly focused on my plate. He looked straight at me again with what I finally considered a false mournful smile as he moved away a little farther to sit on a bench near the front door without forgetting of throwing once more a lingering look at the food on my plate.
In the book The Photography of William T. Vollmann, it says that, “‘When doing research and when taking documentary photographs, it is essential “to capture candid moments of reality.’ Therefore, a significant ethical guideline within the field is to never intentionally influence the scene or involve oneself with the subjects at hand.”