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Layering in Photography to Tell a Story
How I photographed some absurdity in Kolkata
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There’s this growing trend across South Asia where creatives will juxtapose high-end, light-skinned models against labourers and locals in busy streets in an attempt to market their brand as authentic.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t help but laugh at the absurdity sometimes. If you’re asking me, it’s a cheap trope and when I came across it again, I had to capture the moment to share a bit of that absurdity.
This image was captured on my Leica SL2-s and Summicron 28mm F2.0. I had set the aperture to F8.0 this particular morning, where the shutter speed landed at 1/500 and ISO at 640. Aperture priority doing some solid work that day.
I saw this photoshoot happening and I knew I had to make the community occupy more of the space in my photograph than the models being captured. So I moved around the periphery and just observed. This photoshoot was in the middle of a busy market and it was holding up a lot of people.
I knew I didn’t have much time before these people would kick out the visitors.
I paced around and then saw my opening. Or window? There was a man holding his supplies on his head just patiently waiting to cross. I got up close to make the opening between his arm and head a little window, focused down the barrel, and fired my shot.
Now look, this isn’t some great, magical moment with profound meaning. It’s just something I found funny.
You have this framing that’s happening the foreground—and even some smaller framing in the back—that positions the community of this market. The foreground subject is pointed toward the models and you can even see a soft box matching this direction. There’s an aura of disinterest and frustration from the older man in the middle with a peppering of individuals laughing and smiling throughout. And the cherry on top, the male model tilted toward the viewer with a look that can only be described as blue steel.
Maybe the photograph that was taken by the team that day was truly brilliant. Maybe the fashion brand is an ethically sourced company that gives back to its community. The truth is I’m not here to be the moral arbiter of photography and try and pass judgment on another person’s work. Do what you gotta do, so long as you aren’t putting someone else in harm’s way.
That being said, if there’s something in public that I find a little absurd, especially from the world of commercial fashion, I’m gonna shoot my shot. And who knows, it may end up being a great example of layering a photo to tell a story while poking fun at an exhausting trope ;)
July Contest Winner…
Congratulations to the winner of the Long Weekend Santa Fe Shoulder Bag from Moment.
You’ll be receiving your prize directly from the fantastic team at Moment in the coming weeks. Enjoy!
Each month, I run a contest for the Church & Street community and try to feature something that I think people will appreciate.
For August, I’ll be giving away the MagSafe Filmmaker Kit from Moment. This is a cool little package that can help people capture great footage with their iPhone, even if it is to just level up your social content.
How am I picking the winner? All you have to do to enter is Like, Comment, or Restack this post. That’s it. Oh, and if you do all three, you get a bonus entry. As with every contest, I’ll be 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. Good luck!
My thanks to the team at Moment! Not only for this contest but for being the longest supporter of my work online. They’re a lean team of passionate creators that truly believe in supporting other creators on their journey. Whether it’s a new camera, lens, workshop, or just some great articles, visit ShopMoment.com today.
Reader Question: What’s the next piece you’re looking to add to your photo kit?
Last year, I started my move from Fujifilm to Leica and it’s gone much better than expected. At some point I need to add another digital M camera to the kit but before that, I think I'll be picking up the new Leica Summilux M 50mm F1.4.
I’m often carrying two cameras with my 28mm and 35mm mounted, so having a modern 50mm will bring some much-needed versatility to the kit when I want to add a bit more reach and depth.
And yea, I know… 28-35-50. Not the most inspired trinity you’re gonna read about online, but what can I say? It gets the job done.
Next week I’ll be deep into some client work where my team and I will be capturing a ton of event footage over the course of a weekend. I haven’t nailed down the exact subject, but I wanna put together a post from this wild weekend that’ll shed some more light on my process around events. Stay tuned for that in the coming months.
Anyway, that’s enough for this post. Appreciate those of you that took the time to read this far. Make sure to let me know what you think in the comments below. See ya next time!
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 ✊🏾