A few weeks ago I posted some thoughts on portraiture, and how I feel there are a great deal of similarities to making landscape photographs.
I’ve just started work on my Indian images in haste now, and thought I’d post these two images to discuss the merits of applying some ‘landscape’ principles to people photography.
This image was shot in Jodpur, the blue city, not a few feet away from the hotel I was staying at.
When I’m shooting landscape images, I think there are two main directives for me : form and colour.
In my mind I feel I build a spacial map of how all the main components of the scene are laid out. With portraiture, it’s very much the same for me. I’m drawn to form and colour and also how each of the main objects in the scene are ‘balancing out’.
In the scene above, there are for me three or four components: the grey cloak, the face, head scarf and the background. Each of them have different proportions and when I was making this shot, I’m sure that in the back of my mind, I was calculating out the spacial proportions of each of these objects in relation to each other.
Despite the fact that the cloak is taking up quite a considerable proportion of the scene, it’s not the main point of focus, yet it is not distracting. Why is that? Because it’s form or texture is very non-demanding, as is its colour. If the mans cloak had been a very brilliant, dazzling object in its own right, then I would have probably felt it was distracting too much from the main point of interest, which I feel is his half hidden face. His face is interesting because I know he’s smiling, despite his mouth being covered.
Then there are the colour combinations. His head scarf is very colourful but it adds, rather than distracts from his face. And the background of red makes for a colourful image, yet the textures there aren’t overly demanding.
So I think we subconsciously read images on many levels at the same time. For me, I’m weighing up the proportions along with working out priorities of what is most interesting coupled with texture and colour.
I love texture and colour and sometimes that’s just enough for an image. This old woman had plenty of colour in her clothing, and her face had plenty of texture too. But sometimes shooting someone up close is not as great as perhaps shooting them in context to their surroundings. There’s lots of texture in the door in the back, the paving stones and there’s plenty of colour there too, but it’s fairly muted. I always end up back at the old woman. And then there’s the composition. I like how her foot at the lower left of the frame leads me diagonally up towards the top right of the frame and then back down again. And we have an opposite diagonal going on with the edge of the steps that shes sitting on.
I feel I make these decisions in Portraiture as well as landscape photography. They’re not really that different after all. But I guess for most of us, we feel they are because dealing with people can be challenging in a way that a landscape is not. I feel I’ve overcome that hurdle in the past few years and I now embrace shooting people because of the richness of the interractions I’ve had. But there’s still something very satisfying about shooting landscapes too.