Usually, when traveling and taking pictures of people, my greatest fear is that they refuse, get angry or ask money after the shot. I never expected to one day encounter a whole new problem; too many people wanting to get in the picture.
While doing a Shoot to Help report on Kalkeeri Sangeet Vidyalaya (KSV) in Kalkeeri, a small village in the South of India, Vince and I took some free time to visit the village and go eat some “geermit” following the recommendation of François, a fellow Quebecer volunteer at the school. When we were told that the people at the village liked to be photographed, I was glad to expect some simpler to get portraits of locals in a rural and more authentic settings. I was far from knowing what I would get into.
I fact, people of the village, especially children, just loved to be photographed and for the first time of my life of travel, I was asked to take pictures of people. Hell, they were asking me to wait to get all the family. The word passed that two photographers were in town and children were running everywhere always asking for “one last picture”. It seemed great at first but it quickly became difficult to either move or get some shot of any value as 4 persons in a straight line facing the camera is quite dull and kid getting in front of the lens for all the shot did not really add that “touch of dynamism and action that should come from an out of focus zoomed in face of an overexcited child”. I did manage to get once a in a while some valuable shots of the locals while making our way to the tiny village center and the “ghermite” shop (one of the three shops). Needless to say, the best shots were the ones I’ve asked to take and not the opposite, I must say I’m quite proud of these shots as they are the first real good ones I have in India.
The best way to let go of the crowd of children begging to be photographed was to finally get in the tiny restaurant, shaken down and tired. Just before entering, I had spotted two elder men sitting on the porch and talking. I was not able to get a shot but I prayed while eating my “geremyte” (which turned out to be a huge plate of puffed rice, onions and other non-identifiable puffed thingies, all for a whopping 10 rupees (about 0,20$) that the two men remained there until we got out. My prayers were answered and they had not moved indeed. The light was still good enough and they accepted to have their pictures taken but as usual, they stopped acting natural and changed their poses and expressions, not good for me. That is when the lady of the restaurant decided to bring two chais. I grabbed the pictures of the moment, then of her but the real most interesting moment was when the man started to drink his tea, not expecting a picture and not even understanding why I would want a picture of that. That’s this genuine expression of surprise I like so much that we can see on this shot; half a smile, half a serious expression.
After that getting back to the school was as hard as coming in but I’ve managed to get another genuine emotion in a picture; the Laughing Lady which was briefly explained in the Shot 6/140 of India on my Facebook page. Great moment!
You liked the story? You like the picture? Good news is that you can buy it as a print online! Not only does it provide you with amazing art to display in your house but it is also the best way to help me continue and improve my work, cheers!
Important things to remember if you do not want to read the whole story even though you should
- The best expression are genuine and not posed
- Always try to get that one unexpected moment to get a picture, it will yield the best results, keep your eyes open
- Be open about taking pictures, don’t just sneak some shots from behind or far away, results won’t come, get close to your subject
- Look into the eyes
- Try to eat gehrmit, it’s pretty good
- When asked to take a picture, do it but do realize it will not be your best shot, your best shot will probably come from a quick opportunity right after that.
- Nothing much here, normal daylight settings, framing according to rule of third
- Always focus on the eyes, they are the important point of attention
- Get your camera settings ready
- Large aperture for portraits
- Be at the level of the eyes, if someone is sitting, get to their level