Meeting Locals On A Kolkata Photo Walk

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

On a Kolkata photo walk you'lI interact with everyday Indian people while you engage in the fantastic experience of Kolkata street photography.

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 when they saw me making photos. As is often the case, the boys wanted to be in on the action.

The image was made very quickly and, I hope, depicts the candid nature of the moment.

Good Photos Benefit Through Strong Composition

Composition is important, even in a candid portrait.

Take another look at the design within the group photo of the three boys. You’ll notice two quite strong triangles on the right and centre left of the group.

Just draw an invisible line to connect the heads (circles) and you'll see how these dominant triangular shapes help bind the group together into a more cohesive unit.

While the image contains a candid feel, 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.

Pilgrim in the Hooghly River at Sunset, Kolkata, India

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How To Use A Wide Angle Lens For Group Photos

Normally I’d make this kind of photo by moving in close with a wide angle lens. That approach would allow me to achieve the following:

  • Place emphasis on this kind of subject matter

  • Separate the lads from the background through the exaggeration of three dimensional space that a wide angle lens provides

 

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

 

How Moving Can Lead To Better Photos

This time around I decided to keep a bit of distance between the lads and my camera.

It 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 confident that I’d be able to make a good photo, so long as I could photograph her in relative privacy.

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.

It was a simple and quick image to make and I really enjoyed the interaction with this lovely Indian woman.

Of course it’s because I had my camera with me and, despite the oppressive heat, that I was out and about on a self motivated photo walk that enabled me to initiate that interaction.

Positive action leads to positive experiences, particularly if your mindset is in an open and positive state. Wouldn’t you agree.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru