Photographing People

I’ve been photographing seriously for about 13 years now and until March of 2008 I would have said that I’m absolutely not a person photographer. I used to take extra care to avoid people in my photographs or I edited them out in Photoshop.

So when I visited India in March of 2008, I’d planned to photograph Taj Mahal, the spices and the colors, but not the people. But — surprise, surprise — when I came back, 80% of my photos were of people, many of those portraits. And then — surprise again — just as an experiment I turned the portraits into black-and-white, and they looked even stronger. This wasn’t planned, it just happened — the people begged to be photographed and the images begged to be shown in monochrome.

Nothing has been quite the same since. Although I still haven’t gone as far as asking strangers if I can take their picture or asking friends or models to pose for me, I’ve started to allow people to wonder into my photographs and I’ve shot a few abstracts with people in them.

I’ve also been looking at lots of photo books lately, and these surely have an effect on me. How could it be otherwise, with such strong images by Steve McCurry, Sebastião Salgado, Herb Ritts, Robert Mapplethorpe, Isabel Muñoz, etc.?

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