Feature Story

Take My Photo

Rubber Glove
Early Morning Smiles
Take My Photo
The Printer
Orange Cap
Bollywood wannabe
Muscle Men

"Take my photo," was an expression I did not expect to hear with such frequency, if at all, but verbally and tacitly it filled every road, street corner and sidewalk I ventured on in India during the recent Lifestyle Art Project. From Delhi's New to Old City, on to Jaipur and the 5000 year old Mathura, a common language amongst people of all ages was directed at a foreign photographer immediately before a theatric pose was struck.

There were those that tried to exploit their original request into a cash payment, others that wanted a copy of the photo sent to them, while most merely relished in seeing the resultant image on the camera's display. The most intriguing subjects were those that showed no interest beyond the decisive moment, leaving as quickly as they appeared after striking a pose for a period they determined was long enough for me to press the shutter of my camera.

A portrait can speak to social, political or economic conditions. Ideally it captures people in a manner that conveys a deeper understanding of their being. It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and so many of the LAP-India portraits predominantly feature these windows.

Memorable portraits are created through a collaborative effort between photographer and subject. With both parties working to control the image, the subject manipulates his facial and bodily expressions, temperament and general attitude, while the photographer chooses the point of view, determines what to include in the field of view, and grabs an instant of time being processed by the subject. When it all comes together, you have a portrait that pulls the viewer beyond the surface of the image, deep into another level of emotion. These portraits reveal the inner nature of the subject, the photographer, and even the viewer.

The surprise of encountering Indians that spanned generations being so drawn to having their photo taken contradicted everything I am used to in other parts of Asia. There are a number of ancient civilizations and Asian cultures which believe a camera can look in past the eyes, into the soul, and in the process steal it. But in India no such fear existed; everyone appeared to want to bare their soul for all to see. I don't have an explanation for why there is such desire for picture posing, but I was elated to be on the camera side of the experience.

More photos, videos and artwork for Lifestyle Art Project can be found on: http://www.lifestyleartproject.com

Find more of my photos on http://jamesmenges.photoshelter.com

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—The JPG team

3 responses

  • Dorothy Menosky

    Dorothy Menosky gave props (3 Dec 2010):

    Wonderful portraits, and interesting story.

  • Mag TY

    Mag TY gave props (5 Dec 2010):

    The story tells it all! Lovely narration!

  • Isabelle Dethier

    Isabelle Dethier gave props (31 Dec 2010):

    great story

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