Don’t Look Now

Anyone passing by this graffiti in the port city of Kochi, on the west coast of India, sees the possibility right away, but getting a picture as perfect as this one is all about decisions that follow recognition.

The light wasn’t right on the day John Conn saw the scene, so he came back the next day at a time when the shadows would work in his favor. Then he waited. The geometry of the legs of a trousered figure striding by was distracting. “I really wanted a woman because they usually dress in lighter, more colorful clothing,” John says, “and I needed a more solid form, with more of a flow. And she had to be the right height, too.” His next opportunity was a bicyclist…who veered away from the perfect spot, spoiling the alignment. Then a woman came by and John took the photograph you see here.

“I usually hate motor drives,” he says, “but I used it here, for pretty much the first time, to take a five-frame burst. Then I checked the LCD right away.” Time spent waiting at the location: about 20 minutes.

John’s approach to photography is usually much more spontaneous: see it, shoot it, move on. “But this was different,” he says. “I saw the background and preconceived the image and all its elements. I just had to wait and hope.”

Examples of John Conn’s photojournalism, fine art, and travel images can be viewed at

© John Conn

Tech Talk: John took the photo hand held with a Nikon D800 and an AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikkor lens at 1/250 sec, f/7.1, and ISO 100, with the camera set for aperture-priority exposure and center-weighted metering.