A wedding procession in Rwanda. A Shinto priest with an offering in Japan. The wind-burned faces of a Uyghur father and son in western China. A cigar-smoking Creole woman and her dog in Havana. A proud Sadhu in Kathmandu. A Swahili woman harvesting seaweed in Zanzibar. These are some of the images I’ve made of people engaged in the business of life.
I’ve always been interested in how people live in different parts of the world. To me, it’s one of the essential joys of travel—the chance to observe and even experience life as others live it. These images reflect that essential curiosity as I attempt to capture a moment that can tell some kind of story about a people, a culture, or the rhythms and textures of life in different corners of the globe.
Some of these images are impromptu portraits, taken after a polite request. Others are candid shots taken from a distance. In the first, the subject is involved in the process and what interests me is what the subject chooses to reveal in that moment. In the second approach, the image is captured in stealth without the subject’s participation. Each approach has its merits and its pitfalls.
What draws us to a particular subject? It’s a question I’ve learned to ask whenever I look through my viewfinder. When it comes to photographing people there are often multiple answers: the character revealed in a face, the color or uniqueness of garments, the complexity of emotion in the eyes, a moment of interaction or an expressive gesture.
Thinking about what drives one to ‘take the picture’ typically makes for a better photograph, and I find that especially true when it comes to photographing people. If you can articulate to yourself, in a quick mental shorthand, what about an individual or group of individuals has drawn your interest, then you can’t miss making that the story of your photograph.