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Five Lessons from Photographing the Markets of Jaipur
And a last call for my first contest!
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In my last post, I dissected one photograph from a walk through a busy market in Jaipur, India. This week, I wanna share a few more pictures from that same morning, how I captured them, and what I was thinking during the process.
Depending on the light, I’ll look to get to the markets around 6am or earlier. I wanna give myself enough time to explore the space while people are conducting their business here.
If I spot a group enjoying tea, I break the ice by offering to take their portrait. I’ll embrace being the odd one out and try to make some friends, immersing myself in their stories while sharing my work.
With my camera snug against the right side of my chest, equipped with a 28mm lens, my Leica feels more like body camera at times. I set the aperture to F8.0 and adjust the focus range to roughly be in the 0.8m to 1.5m range. Now it's a dance, where I position the subject in a space around where my outstretched arm would be.
Picture this: camera pressed close, tilted inward a bit, ready to capture the scene as I look to imagine what the camera is ‘seeing’ from its perspective. I move through the market and pay attention to whatever is catching my eye. When I see something interesting, I close the gap, snap the frame, and move on.
I’m not being picky, nor trigger-happy like a preteen who just discovered his body. I’m simply looking to pay more attention to where my eyes naturally go and then position myself to take a shot. Like this well-dressed man reaching for matching flowers, moments of serendipity will eventually unfold.
Knowing my camera's focus range and having it by my side allows me to drop down—as if I’m ducking a boxer’s jab—and capture unique perspectives effortlessly. I’ll look to vary the height, not just the distance.
Certain moments demand more focus, like this one. I stop, bring the camera to my eye, and compose the shot.
I need to print this one soon.
When I encounter someone intriguing, especially if their hands are in the frame, I jump to capture the moment as quick as possible. They may notice me, but I embrace it. Documenting the space and connecting with the community is part of my journey. A smile, a conversation—it’s all fulfilling encounters.
But let's face it, there’s gonna be times like the one above where they brush me off like a worthless mosquito leaving happy hour.
People have made parts of the market a second home for a large part of their lives. So I’ll look to position myself to capture a bit of that story in my images. Like this example where I’ll push our subject to the left of the frame and give room for his tomato stall in the foreground and background.
Let me wrap this with something Joel Meyerowitz would often share: say yes to the photograph.
Let your camera follow your eyes, capturing whatever catches your interest. Ignore the antsy, monkey part of your brain trying to talk you out of it. Just reassure that little ape and say yes to the photograph.
The Five Lessons
If I can summarize the five takeaways from this walk it’d be this:
Get your ass up super early if you wanna visit a market so you can have time and light on your side.
Find a way where you can position your camera against you so it looks like it’s resting, but you can capture liberally to build some positive momentum.
Don’t make it awkward. Speak with the people that aren’t too busy and look to learn about the community.
Play with both distance and height to vary your images. It’s gonna be a long morning so keep things fresh as you make your rounds.
When you see those really special moments, slow down and make it an intentional experience. Land the composition exactly where you want it and try to tell more of a story with your image.
Next week, I’ll be announcing the winner of my first contest here so if you haven’t entered, here’s your last chance at a full copy of Capture One Pro 23 and my Global Styles Pack. All you have to do is create an account with Capture One with this link here and…
If you’re already a part of this Church & Street club, just make an account with Capture One with the same email and you’re entered.
How am I picking the winner? I’ll be taking the mailing list here, randomly picking one person, confirming they meet the requirements and then contacting them directly before announcing the winner publicly.
Once again, this contest is void where prohibited by law.
Reader Question: What have you been enjoying lately?
You mean outside of the undying love and affection of my wife and kids? It has to be the new Zelda game. Tears of the Kingdom put whatever free time I have in a camel clutch and damn, it’s just one of the greatest games I've ever played. Sure, I could’ve taken the 80+ hours I’ve dropped so far and gotten a bit more reading done. But variety is the spice of life.
Or some sh*t like that.
Anyway, enough for one week. I’d love to hear what you think of this post so if you have a moment, please drop your thoughts in the comments below. See y’all in two weeks where we announce the winner of our first contest!
Thanks for reading Church & Street. Be sure to leave any thoughts or questions in the comments and if you really enjoyed this post, share it with your circle ✊🏾