I like to photograph people, and what I like to do, is to capture some essence of their spirit. I like to capture something of their personality. For me, people photography is about storytelling.
There are many genres in people photography:
· Beauty and fashion
· Formal portraits
· Candid portraits
· Storytelling portraits
· Natural light portraits
· Environmental portraits
· Studio portraiture
· Conceptual portraiture
As you can observe, the list is almost endless. Not only can you keep adding genres, but you can also split them into sub-genres. That’s why it is important to decide which genre of people photography you like to do.
A Spot of Storytelling
I like to do headshots, conceptual portraiture, and storytelling portraits. I like to capture something of people- an expression in their eyes perhaps, something of their personality, a hint of their mood. If I can, at that moment, tell something of their story, I am happy.
Maybe, it’s time now, to talk a bit about these portraits, and I do like to call them portraits. I had gone down to Bangalore many years back. Those days, I worked with DSM, and I was President of their Indian operations.
We had given added some minerals and vitamins to the daily meal that these kids were receiving from the government and wanted to see if this had had any positive effect on their health. While the government was feeding them, I don’t think that the food was nutritious. Yes, the food contained enough calories, but not enough of the macro and micronutrients that are essential for growth.
Many years later, when people write some honest stories about India, one of these will be that of poor health caused by malnutrition.
When I reached the school, it was lunchtime, and I got to see first-hand how they ate. Honestly, it was not surprising to look at them sit on the ground with their little lunch boxes, eating the food that the school doled out to them. Yet, these children receive so little that they were grateful for even this meagre meal.
After lunch, with their hunger sated, they crawled all over me and begged me to photograph them.
I photographed them in groups, and I photographed them individually. Over the years, I have edited the images in different ways.
Recently, I took up the images again, and I looked at the expressions on their faces. Each of them had a unique expression, a different mood. How would it be if I were to be in a storytelling mood? How would it be if I were to write their stories from their faces?
I think each would be very different, and I hope I captured some essence of their personality and their spirit in that one visit.
You always take something back with you, and when you really tell the story of the people you photograph, then you can be at peace.