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Intentional Portraiture Matters
How I Photographed The Labourer
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Do you ever walk by someone and get this feeling inside that compels you to take a portrait of them? Wait, wtf kinda of question is that. Of course you do! You wouldn’t be part of this club if you didn’t.
There are some people on this earth that have a face that demands a photograph. And I would go so far as saying that it’s our duty as photographers to create a portrait of them, to document them. When you recognize that feeling, you have to act on it. You have to make the effort. You have to make the photograph.
This image was captured with the Fujifilm X-Pro3 and XF 35mm F1.4 lens. Aperture and shutter speed were locked at the time to F1.8 and 1/1000th respectively, with the ISO responding with 640. Let me also say, the XF 35m F1.4 is one of the few products that I tell Fuji photographers is a must-have lens. There’s some magic being done here that you just won’t find elsewhere in their lens lineup.
While walking the streets of Mumbai I saw this man seated in the streets just looking contemplatively into the distance. He had this presence that felt so wildly different from the chaos that surrounded him. I want to believe that was the crux for me to make my approach.
Through what only can be described as sign language for those that don’t know sign language, I motioned between him, my camera, and some kind of gesture to indicate how stoic he looked. He allowed me to capture this image and it’s one of the few from this trip in 2020 that I look back with reverence.
There’s something about his expression and gesture that feels deeply empathic. The gleam of light reflecting off the eyes—moisture piercing through this arid day—it just made for this distinct look that couldn’t be ignored. It’s as if he’s trying to inform us of something; revealing something right in front of us but haven’t quite figured out ourselves.
The first episode of the Church & Street show is streaming now. Follow me as I go on some photography adventures around the world and meet some remarkable people along the way.
Portraits That Teach
What made this photograph even more meaningful was that it would go on to really inform how I would manage colour in the future. With the help of a close friend, this photograph would be the base of me re-learning colour theory and skin tones. The seeds of this photograph really changed the trajectory of my work. And that’s why I believe we should stop for the people that stop us.
When you come across someone that catches your attention, don’t disregard that feeling. Stop for them and make the portrait. Your brain recognized them for a reason so take the next step. And truly, it’s not about making a great image so much as it’s about just moving forward with your work. What’s special is that you may just stumble across a moment that’ll change your photography in a far more profound way than you ever could’ve imagined.
Got a Question?
I want to make this club as interactive as possible while staying true to the experience. If you have a specific question about photography or my work, let me know. Whether you leave it as a comment or send it to me via Instagram, I’ll start setting aside a few that can make for a great post.
Anyway, that’s enough for one week. Appreciate each you that took the time to get this far. See ya next time!