Taking a photo of a photogenic person with an interesting background is one of the easiest and most cliche shots in photography. But it is cliche for a reason: it can give a good sense of what people wear and how it relates to the city.
This photo is very simple, but getting it was a little more complicated than it might seem.
Before the Shot
The colonial city of Galle Fort was surprisingly quiet in the morning – there was almost no one on the street and no place to – gasp! – buy coffee. Around 8am, the town came alive as kids streamed down the streets to school and women in bright saris and men in sharp suits made their way to work.
The Decisive Moment
- Shutter Speed: 1/1000
- Aperture f/14
- ISO 1600
- Lens: 18mm (27mm equivalent)
Due to a lack of cars, I was able to stand in the street which had two advantages:
- I was slightly below the woman walking by, which allowed me to shoot up. The upward angle makes her look a little taller and more prominent.
- I was able to get a good angle – there was an ugly telephone pole just to the right of the woman and I didn’t want to include it.
As a foreigner standing on the street corner with a camera, I certainly stood out. I did not want my presence to alter the behavior of the people walking by, so as the subjects approached, I’d fidget with my camera and look away until they were where I wanted them to be, then I’d raise my camera and shoot.
With this shot, I timed it so both of her feet were on the ground at the same time, creating a triangle with the feet and body which makes the shot more dynamic. I got a little lucky to frame her between two of the columns on the building, and to catch the sari flowing behind her.
After the Shot – The lady seemed unaware that I took her photo and kept walking. I spent about an hour in this area taking photos, and got several good ones, but this was my favorite for the simplicity and colors.
The Takeaway – Slow down, observe and get the composition right. Even a simple photo of someone walking down the street requires some preplanning to get it right.