Slow it down

If you’re familiar with my work, you probably already know I am not much of people’s photographer (some may argue I am not much of a photographer, but that’s a debate for another day). While, I still favour photographing landscapes and architecture mainly, I have developed a keen interest for people photography. One of the main things elements I have focussed on during my latest Moroccan adventure, was the incorporation of human figures into my frames so as to add scale, motion and interest to a given scene. I have quickly come to see that places that may not photograph so well on their own, spring to life, when humans are added to the scene.

As we were walking down the mesmerizing narrow streets of the Old medina of Fes, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the earthly colour of the walls and the wonderful light bouncing off them. However, I often found that my efforts to portray these streets fell somewhat short of conveying the magic surrounding the place. This is where I decided that the addition of some human elements would bring the scene to life.

Walking down the streets of the old Medina of Fes, Morocco. Click on the image to buy a print.

While I do enjoy a good old portrait, there are times where a more subtle approach is desirable. In this case, while I wanted to add a human element to the scene, I didn’t want it to be the main subject, which would have diverted my initial intention of this image. Therefore, I opted here for a more environmental image, where people would merely be passers-by. To do this, I knew I needed to slow down my shutter speed. Enough to render the motion blur from people walking-by, but not as much as to make them completely disappear from the scene. For this I knew that something in the vicinity of a half second would be required. With  my camera on the tripod and the polarizer on, I only needed to close the aperture down to f/8. I then simply fired a few shots away as people moved in and out of the scene, until I got a satisfactory image.

In the final image presented here, I was drawn to the fortuitous “yin and yang” look with the man in dark clothes and the woman in white clothes evenly placed across the frame. I have to admit though that my favourite part of the entire image is the sweet soft light hitting that wooden door in the background…the sort of light dreams are made of :) .

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7 Responses to Slow it down

  1. This is an absolutely fantastic shot Younes, and I agree that the human element adds quite a bit of interest to the image. The light on the door draws your eye through the frame, and you can almost envision the man in the black clothes on his way to that entrance. Very well done, and thanks for explaining your process as well.

  2. Ed says:

    Younes, I really like this image for all the reason you set out above. Your landscape and architectural photography has clearly informed the excellent framing and composition that do not detract from the people but actually add to their story. Which door will they go into, the one with the beautiful light, the one slightly hidden on the left, or the open one with the beautiful pattern? Great stuff.

  3. Jay Goodrich says:

    Love it Younes. And I would definitely debate the your comment about not being a much of a photographer at all. You are more of one than most out there.

  4. Beate Dalbec says:

    Great image, Younes! The people certainly make the shot. And I love just the bit of motion blur.

  5. Younes says:

    Thanks everyone for the very kind words. I had a great time getting out of my comfort zone in Morocco (photographically speaking) and am pretty excited about the fresh batch of work I brought home. I am glad it is getting such a positive reaction.

  6. Mark Tisdale says:

    I can definitely identify with not immediately warming to include people in photos. I used to go to great lengths to omit them, but it’s not just scale, it’s often a sense of life that’s missing from an empty photo. I still struggle with crowded scenes, lots of people and heaven forbid cars! Sure one day those cars will look vintage and cool but now they just bug me. ;-)

    At any rate, this is definitely an example of a scene that would be so much different without people. There’s a lot of texture and detail so it would still be intriguing, but the people definitely add life to the scene.