Back Story; Often It’s Second Things First Page 2

Trio. I guess you could call this eliminating the background by positioning your subjects. I could have gone for a single person and lots more of the blue steel corrugated door--and I probably did in variations--but the photo I previsualized was a close view with severe cropping and very little background. Don't be afraid to cut off faces; the photo works, right? And don't be afraid to ask people to pose.

Mural. This one was pure previsualization, but a little trickier than it might appear. I saw the mural while I was sitting down having a Coke, then came back later and asked a passing woman to pose for me. I threw the background out of focus--the f/stop was 4.5 at the 47mm setting on my Canon 24-105mm zoom--but I didn't want it reduced to blurs or blobs. I wanted the background to be interesting, but not interesting (sharp) enough to distract from her. This picture works because of the balance between background and subject.

Player. Back to basics: neutral background, off-center subject, Rule of Thirds, nothing elaborate. But I saw this wall first, visualized the photo, and then found the musician. He was playing in a crowded courtyard nearby, collecting some offerings from tourists and passersby. I waited 45 minutes for the crowd to thin out, then asked him if he'd pose by the wall. I gave him several rupees for his help. We didn't speak the same language, but gestures were enough.

Overhead. I was at a festival in Bodh Gaya, the city where Buddha found enlightenment. There were so many cool things to photograph, and I shot countless frames. At one point I needed to get away from all the frenetic energy and find some simplicity and calm. At the top of an overpass I saw the stones below and knew they were the simple background I wanted. I waited until the monks came along and asked them if they'd pose for me. For a final touch, I found and placed the bowl of flowers.

Gulls. I think most people would have simply taken the shot of the coastline and the city through the fog, and I probably did take a few frames of that myself. But I wanted to make that the background, not the subject. We were on a boat--the river is the Ganges--and were able to attract the gulls with a few bits of bread.

Morning Prayers. One morning in Bodh Gaya I saw the wall of carved figures and noticed how the light was hitting it. Later the monks came and lined up to go into the temple. I had to come back the next morning in order to get my position and timing right. I'd previsualized the picture the moment I saw how the background wall would duplicate the line of the monks.