In Photos | Female Strangers and the Beauty of the Candid Shot

This photo essay is woven around female protagonists, most of whom are strangers to me. As a photographer, for me, each portrait depicts a unique moment in time when ‘her’ eyes meet mine, directly or through the lens. That moment may evoke emotions ranging from anger, amazement, astonishment, curiosity, suspicion, amusement, joy, pride or a complex combination of all.

Sometimes our eyes meet after the shutter has dropped. Ismile! She smiles back or doesn’t. Talks to me or ignores me and continues doing her work, or turns and walks away, or invites me for tea. All this happens usually after I’ve frozen my frame.

The candid shot offers an opportunity to observe authentic expressions, behaviours and actions of the respective protagonists in their natural settings; where they live, work or commute on a daily basis. The compositional elements in the form of lines, frames, background-foreground and light-shadow complete the story.

 Also read: What Makes You A Woman?

As you see a picture in this photo essay, you may find yourself looking at a poor woman wearing traditional attire. However, a simplistic and superficial viewing, as in the above example, may reduce a protagonist to an ‘object’, devoid of individuality, complexity; simplified, stereotyped; evoking pity or sympathy on one hand and adulation and romanticism on the other.

I have tried to depict the complexities and simplicities of each woman through photographs. This is my attempt at portraying a subjective reality, personality, vocation, unique life experience and agency through my portraits wherein each woman is uniquely positioned in relation to the physical environment, objects, animals and people surrounding her.

I wanted to try and make the invisible visible – in tribute to each of the protagonists for being the women that they are – and bridge the gap between the protagonist and the viewer.

Alankrita Singh is deputy director at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussorie