How To Photograph Kids In Kolkata, India

A group of young lads pose for a photo in the streets of Kolkata, India.

Boys will be boys. Here's a pic of a group of lads I met in a side street in Kolkata, India. They were just hanging around, saw me photographing and, as is often the case, wanted to be in on the action. The image was made very quickly and, I hope, depicts the candid nature of the moment.

How To Use A Wide Angle Lens For Group Photos

Normally I’d move in close with a wide angle lens to place emphasize on this kind of subject matter and separate the lads from the background through the exaggeration of three dimensional space that a wide angle lens provides.

 
Maria Purem Hall, Chennai, India

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How Moving Can Lead To Better Photos

This time around I decided to keep a bit of distance between the lads and my camera. This allowed me to include a fair bit of the surrounding environment, almost as an equal partner to the lads, in the picture.

I also had an ulterior motive for keeping my distance. My main aim was to approach and photograph an elderly woman who was sitting on her front doorstep just behind me.

I wanted to engage, quickly, with the kids then send them on their way, without losing contact with the woman behind me. I felt she be a better subject for a portrait if I was to photograph her in relative privacy.

 

A dignified black and white portrait of a gentle soul in Kolkata, India.

 

My plan worked because, after making the photo the lads were ready to move on. All I had to do was to turn around and start making the image that I really cared about.

Notice how the textures and varying tones in our subject and background have made the image so well suited to rendering into black and white. 

 
Pilgrim in the Hooghly River at Sunset, Kolkata, India

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Good Photos Benefit Through Strong Composition

Composition is important, even in a candid photo.

Notice the design within the group. You’ll notice two quite strong triangles on the right and centre left of the group. Just draw an invisible line to connect three heads (circles) and you'll see how these dominant triangular shapes help bind the group together into a more cohesive unit.

The image features a group of likely lads and contains a candid feel, but it's the use of triangles that underpins the composition. I wouldn't call it a portfolio image. Nonetheless, without these triangles the image would be far less successful.

It's a very simple photo that fits into the street photography or documentary travel photography genres. The photo is important because the way I managed the interaction with these lads made it possible for me to make the portrait I really wanted to make.

One thing very much leads to another and, as long as you're moving in a positive direction, good outcomes will, more often than not, follow. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru