Sometimes, we all struggle to hard too accomplish something more, something extra-ordinary and something better than others in our photography work. We want the photograph to have that "wow factor" which would impress the viewers at the first glance. I admit at times, I pushed myself to shoot in a way that I want to just capture "award winning" worthy shots. We tried and we tried and we tried harder, sometimes we accomplished what we wanted (or we think we did), other times we did not, but I am sure, many of us know this truth, it was when we stopped trying, and just be ourselves when we shoot, that we truly shine.
The Indian Lady
If you were to ask me what is special about this photograph, I honestly tell you there is none. Most of the time, my favourite photographs are the simplest photographs, those that I did not put too much planning into them beforehand, and just happened, because I was there at the right place and time. I am not saying that we should depend on luck to get better photographs, but trying too hard just takes everything away from the important part of photography: especially having fun. When I saw this Indian lady, she already noticed me, obviously carrying a camera, and I smiled at her, then she smiled in return. We Malaysians smile a lot, and we are friendly bunch of people. I am not sure how people are at other parts of the world, but I am pretty sure if you smile at someone, you will most likely get a positive response. As I pointed my camera at her, she just looked at me calmly, and I snapped the frame. The photograph was made, no dramas, nothing more.
If I were to analyze the situation, many things could have been changed, or improved. She was standing with her back against the strong light, and usually for portraits that is a big no no. Then, I was standing too close to her, and having revealed more of her body, or what she was carrying, with a little bit of her environment would have been a better "story telling" photograph. Then according to "street photography guide and rules and regulations" I should not shoot her with direct eye contact, and would probably ask her to look away. I should probably not shoot her with a smile on the face too, because that would have degraded from a good street photograph to just a plain portrait photograph. At this point I don't really care if that qualifies as a street photography photograph or not. I saw a photography opportunity, I grabbed it.
If I had given in to all the considerations described in the previous paragraph, I would have asked her to stand in an entirely different location, shot her from a different angle, stand possibly 4-5 meters further away from her, and have a completely different output altogether. Will the photograph be better if I were to chase that "perfection"? Who knows, I did not have the supposing "improved" version for comparison. However, this much I am sure: if I have come into and meddled with the scene, her expression would have changed. It was her beautiful smile which she gave me in return that captivated me in the first place. It was that brief moment of connection between two strangers in a public space, without the need to explain or verbal communication that jumped out of the image. I wanted to freeze that brief connection. And I do not care if the photograph suffers from back-lit situation or was badly composed, or did not reveal enough background to support the main subject. Keeping it simple, straight to the point, worked well for me.
No, I doubt this image will be anyone's favourite, and people might not even understand why I would shoot a photograph of a random Indian lady in a market place. Believe it or not, to me, this was my favourite photograph for the day. It was just an ordinary photograph. I was not trying too hard to make something out of nothing. I was shooting her, as she was, without complicating the situation. I shot her the way I saw her. No more, no less. What did I see in her? I see beauty. She looked like an ordinary Indian lady to everyone else in the market, but in my photograph, she is beautiful.