When it is all in the eyes

What is it about shooting portraits? For me, it is just the simple joy of capturing a little bit of the personality with just a shot. So, how does it work when it is an absolute stranger you are shooting? Especially, if he isnt simply going to pose for you?

Well, here’s a portrait. I recently shot this at a market and I really like this picture. He was a complete stranger whom I met just before clicking this shot. He was a great subject – lots of character in his face, lovely sharp eyes, and I even had nice light on him.

I approached him nice and easy. A smile always helps. The camera isnt such a big deterrent or a big deal if the person behind the camera isnt over-whelming. The camera is typically not blocking my line of view with the person I am going to shoot when I am approaching the person.

The man here was a slightly conservative, not the overtly ‘at ease in front of the camera’ person. It may have also mattered that I was a woman, that he wasnt completely at ease. However, I really liked his face and I went about clicking him. I had a feeling sooner or later I would get the expression I was hoping for. Here are couple of images that I got just before the one above. Notice the eyes? They dont meet the camera. While the light and the face/expression are still the same, there isnt any connection with the viewer.

Here too, he is still looking elsewhere and not having any kind of rapport with the camera/me.

And then, that changes …. in that one sec when he does look at the camera for a brief bit and well, look at those eyes! Beautiful and sharp.

When I clicked at that moment, I knew I had the shot I wanted. I also saw it in b&w in my mind.

I hope you like this one. While this bit of capturing his personality may have worked in this way this time, things may be very different in a different scenario; which is also what makes it challenging – there isnt a formula! And which is also what makes it fun.

I do portrait shoots with the idea of capturing personalities of an individual and the collective personalities of a couple, family, or a group. For more of my work samples, do take a look here – Chitra Aiyer Photography

PS: Sorry for having gone missing in action here. I guess I was on an extended break – just that even I didnt know that!

13 Responses to “When it is all in the eyes”

  1. I liked the way u explained it

  2. Really interesting … Thanks for sharing

    Keep clicking more faces ..!

  3. What stands out for me is what I suspect is the prayer mark on his forehead. The one that comes from praying 5 times a day for years. That along with the lines on his face.. Nice.

  4. Excellent work. Just one question Chitra, I’m curious did you ask for permission to shoot him? Or just went ahead and shot him? I shoot a lot of portraits too and sometimes balk at the thought of asking. So wondering how it went with you?

  5. Thanks Amar and Roshan.

    Mumbai paused, yes the first thing that I saw the min I opened the pic up. Ty.

    Anugraha, thanks. Asking permission depends …. I typically see the situation and mostly shoot others without offending them. So, whatever it takes. I try and not shoot without their knowing, because I find it as a kind of a violation of their rights. Well, anyway, that is just me. There are lot of folks who do shoot candid, without checking with the folks on the streets.

  6. explained very well… thanks for the info and clicks

  7. Great work n explanation lady… KEEP it UP… ALL THE BEST FOR FUTURE ENDEAVORS… :-)

  8. Thank you Senthil and Naveen.

  9. ah! You may not have noticed that you were not blogging, but I am sure that many of your blog readers noticed, yours truly included! Glad that you are back. I liked the portraits that you have taken. Very difficult for me, because I cannot seem to capture on picture what I “see” and am never happy with those kinds of photos. Very nice to see his pictures.

    Especially appreciate your honest tidbits to budding photographers :-) That is the mark of a true human.

  10. Lovely write uyp madam, Liked it, Here is one of my portrait clicked last week :)


  11. AM not much of a photographer, but do keep try taking pics with my Digicam only. The way you have explained how you’ve taken this pic, really got me involved.

    Would like to read more similar posts.

  12. Very nice explanation given.Only when eye contact is there between the person and the camera,the photo taken will get its life :)

  13. Nice. I liked the first one.

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