This image was captured in Cambodia almost three years ago on the grounds of Angkor Vat.  At the time I was in the company of several other photographers and instinctively we all knew this small child on a large bicycle would make an interesting photograph  We had less than 2-3 seconds to raise our cameras and capture her as she road by mildly interested in what we found so interesting about her.

Last week I promised more of a focus on people and street photography.  This weeks feature photograph is significant not only because it’s one of my long time favorites, but because it’s also received a ton of attention in sales and circulation.  It’s simple, plain, and in my view elegant.

This image was captured in Cambodia almost three years ago on the grounds of Angkor Vat.  At the time I was in the company of several other photographers and instinctively we all knew this small child on a large bicycle would make an interesting photograph  We had less than 2-3 seconds to raise our cameras and capture her as she road by mildly interested in what we found so interesting about her.

Later that evening we sat around the dinner table with our laptops and shared our version of the capture.  Everyone but me had zoomed in on her face, or her face and shoulders, and granted she has a nice and interesting face.. but was that really all there was to the composition?  Me?  I zoomed out.  I wanted the story.  I wanted the composition.  I didn’t center her in my frame, but instead left her all the way over on the right.  I had already been noticing the light and knew she’s be lit from the side and I wanted the shadows of her bicycle.  And of course, I wanted the expression and mood.

Looking at the image later that day with all the colors of her clothes, the bike, the grass, and the temples in the background.. I felt the colors distracted from the composition.  They cluttered the composition unnecessarily without giving anything back.  I toned the image for black and white and all of a sudden she jumped off the image and drew my eye where before she was merely part of the background.  This image shows not only another cute Cambodian child, but a child with an intent expression, riding a bicycle down a dirt path, temples in the background, and best of all.. direction of light.  I had captured a relatively rare strong people composition that not only showed the person.. but told her story.

Does this image tell any less of a story?  I think it tells less.  It’s not a bad photograph, but they’re obviously posing for the camera and the light isn’t adding much to the scene.  I like it, but it’s not nearly as strong.

Does this image tell any less of a story?  I think it tells less.  It’s not a bad photograph, but they’re obviously posing for the camera and the light isn’t adding much to the scene.  I like it, but it’s not nearly as strong.

Another posed people picture.  Usually you don’t intend for them to look at the camera, but unless you use very good technique or a very long lens, they almost always will notice the camera and given a chance will go cheesecake on you.  On the other hand I’ve always liked this shot because of the story it told. A mom and her three daughters, and no room for the oldest daughter of rather large size.  Maybe I like this image because of the part of the story it didn’t capture, but I remember.  The love and ease which with all four of these ladies treated each other, the acceptance of limited space on their transport, and the absolutely remarkable attitude of the large daughter who showered me with smiles and positive energy.  And the undisguised look of sadness on the face of the youngest daughter as she was forced to leave her sister behind.

Another posed people picture.  Usually you don’t intend for them to look at the camera, but unless you use very good technique or a very long lens, they almost always will notice the camera and given a chance will go cheesecake on you.  On the other hand I’ve always liked this shot because of the story it told. A mom and her three daughters, and no room for the oldest daughter of rather large size.  Maybe I like this image because of the part of the story it didn’t capture, but I remember.  The love and ease which with all four of these ladies treated each other, the acceptance of limited space on their transport, and the absolutely remarkable attitude of the large daughter who showered me with smiles and positive energy.  And the undisguised look of sadness on the face of the youngest daughter as she was forced to leave her sister behind.