By Jim Zuckerman
I am leaving to lead a photo tour to India tomorrow, so I thought it would be appropriate to post a photo that I took last year in this remarkable country. I’ve never been to a country where the photography of people is so amazing. Compelling photographs are everywhere, and I find it one of the most rewarding destinations I’ve ever been to.
The little girl below was taken in a small village in the state of Orissa. The tribe she belongs to traditionally pierces both nostrils as well as the nasal septum when girls are only a few months old. The three nose rings give them a very distinctive look, and this is especially true on very young girls.
When I approach a portrait outdoors, I usually opt for shaded conditions. I prefer soft, diffused light because there are no harsh shadows that detract from my subject. In addition, the person I’m shooting doesn’t have to squint from a bright sun; I can capture the full depth of their eyes.
Another very important factor is that I want a background that is unobtrusive, that doesn’t in any way compete for attention with the subject. I maintain that the background is just as important as the subject, and that if it’s distracting or if it takes attention away from the subject the picture is significantly less effective.
I also like to shoot at eye level. When a small child is my subject, I get down low for an intimate glimpse into their world. Shooting downward from a standing position gives you a different feeling entirely, one that implies you are on the outside looking in.
This picture was tweaked in Photoshop. I altered the color somewhat and used one of the Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 filters that darkened the background a little yet maintained the highlight on the young girl’s face.