I shot this portrait a few years ago in the main temple in the town of Talakad. These kids were on a field trip with their teacher at the temple. While everyone was smiling when they saw me and my camera, he was the only one who wasn’t. That and the expression in his eyes is what drew me to make this photo. The contrast of his serious expression with his classmates smiling makes the photo more layered contextually and visually interesting, in my opinion.
When it comes to shooting portraits, I first notice which side the light is pleasing to my subject and then I move in close and shoot from the angle that makes the most sense, given the light and the mood of the picture that I’m going after. In this case, he’s lit from the side by natural light passing through the entrance of the temple. It was pretty dim inside otherwise, with minimal light passing through cracks on the wall illuminating the rest of the room just enough to get a decent exposure. My aperture was probably around f2.0 and I used exposure compensation to brighten up the shadows slightly. If you’re a beginner photographer, shooting the lens at a low aperture is what throws the background out of focus, giving a nice isolation to your subject from the background. My post process was just making it black and white in Lightroom and adjusting the contrast slightly. Often when converting to b&w in Lightroom, the image can feel flat and grey so I use Silver FX to create a b&w image that has better tonal separation. This wasn’t the case for this though as the tones that Lightroom gave me were rich enough.
Talakad is a small desert town on the outskirts of the Kaveri river, in South India. The legend goes that Queen Alamelamma cursed the town right before she jumped to her death than surrender to the Raja of the time. Her curse went something like “Let Talakad become sand, let it become a whirlpool, let the Mysore Rajas fail to beget heirs”. It is overwhelmingly believed that her curse worked as Talakad was once prosperous but now is a desert and Mysore Rajas have had problems begetting heirs for centuries. The look on this boy’s face suggests that he’s, perhaps, aware of the legend and the ground he stands on.