PORTFOLIO - ROB CORPUZ
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WOMAN BEHIND A GATE - Cochin, India

In the original version of this photo, one of the spikes of the gate was tall enough to look like it was actually going up her nose. I didn’t notice the distraction until long after I had taken the shot, but once I saw it, I couldn’t un-see it, so I did some retouching to shorten the spike and paint in the part of her face that it had been covering.

I could have avoided the issue in the first place, by changing my camera angle or asking the subject to shift her position, but honestly, even if I had noticed at the time, there is a good chance I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

For better or worse, in photos I often love it when vertical lines actually look vertical and horizontal lines look horizontal. I even had to resist an instinctual urge to straighten out that rebellious, crooked spike on camera-right, which I now quite like. So my obsession with vertical and horizontal lines means that I often shoot from a relatively straight-on angle, as I did here.

In addition, shooting from a lower angle would have made the spike/nose problem worse, and shooting from a higher angle might made her look more like she was a trapped victim, rather than just hanging out. Shooting from the left or right could have been cool too, but then I would have wanted to change lenses (from wide to telephoto), and anyway I wanted to keep the other end of the tunnel in the shot.

This charming lady was already in this exact place and position when I first saw her. My immediate impression was that she often spent time here, leaning on this gate and people-watching, and I wanted to capture her on-camera exactly as she was. If I had asked her to stand a bit straighter or move even slightly, I might have ruined that.

I certainly advocate taking the time to try out different angles and focal lengths and to engage with your subject, making adjustments to pose, gesture, and expression, in order to get everything as close to the way that you want it in-camera, but there are occasionally circumstances when you shouldn’t mess with what’s right in front of your camera. In this case, it wasn’t a planned shoot, I was asking a stranger for a moment of her time and didn’t want to impose on her, and already knew exactly where I wanted the camera to be, so I didn’t regret spending the time later to adjust a small issue like that spike.

From TALKING TO STRANGERS