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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beyond the cliche

Anyone who's been to the Taj Mahal has one of these in their arsenal. How could you not shoot it? This gorgeous building reflected in the waters of the lake in front of it are a picture postcard personified. The only problem is - it's been done to death and unless you're there on a very special day weather wise you're not going to get anything that a million other people haven't.

For the next little while I want to explore the concept of getting beyond the cliche and exploring photographing a subject in depth. I was considering using something near where I live to show how you can photograph one place in different ways, but I thought it would be much more realistic to show you how I tried to get a deep coverage of somewhere I went as a traveller. With a limited amount of time and totally dependant on what the weather gods threw at me. Also it didn't hurt that this is the biggest cliche travel photo of all time!

So this is what you see when you first walk through the massive gates of the Taj Mahal. I've seen quite a few famous sites around the world and quite a few of them weren't quite as impressive as I had imagined them to be. The Taj lives up to expectations and more.

So my first effort is the obligatory postcard snapshot before I move on to see what I can do. I'll try and follow a bit of a timeline with the following pics to show the thought processes as I photographed the Taj over a few days but I thought I'd start with one of my favourites.

One of the things I'd never really thought about before going here is that the Taj is a HUGE tourist attraction for the local Indians. I can almost hear all the Homer Simpson D'ohs emanating from your computers but all the photos I'd ever seen had the place nearly empty. It's nothing like that - we are talking huge crowds of people from all over the country - mostly rural people dressed in their finery making a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

The elderly couple above were dressed in their finest clothes and posing in front of the main building for a souvenir photo. I used a wide-angle lens to frame them with the Taj in the background to show where they were positioned for the photo. I thought about using a little bit of fill flash to lighten them up but in the end opted for natural light and an almost silhouette. I like the fact that the wive's teeth are almost glowing. It was pretty much a grab shot as I was just walking around looking for different compositions and they came and stood and posed right next to where I was with the camera. SNAP and I got a keeper.

So that's probably one of my favourites and over the next few days I'll post some other pics taken in different light, from different angles and using different lenses. But all of the same subject.


Briar said...

Wow Paul, this is fantastic stuff. Often after an inspiring course you're left on your own and can lose inspiration, so this is a great way to keep the momentum going.

Great commentary and I especially love the image of your unwilling child model a few days ago. I can relate to that.

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Cheers, Briar

Billie-Jo said...

I am really enjoying your site and especially the blogs. Thank you so much for sharing with everyone, its nice for someone to actually discuss their photos, not just display them.

Paul Dymond said...

Thanks Billie-Jo,

I'm glad you're enjoying the blogs and I've got plenty more pictures to come! Thankyou for the support.