This is number two in a series - where from time to time I’ll share some of my favorite images from Asia and the stories behind getting those shots. This is one of those photos where what I got was not what I was initially going for. This is a back alley near Kumartuli, the famous sculpting center in Kolkata, where craftsmen manufacture clay gods and idols for various local festivals and export huge numbers of the idolatries worldwide. I’d turned a corner and found myself in front of this small, brilliantly painted, ramshackle house. There was a stunningly beautiful young woman standing just inside the doorway and the light on her face was near perfect. I stopped dead in my tracks and raised the camera but before I could release the shutter she caught me and quickly pulled the curtain. I mean she was ninja fast. I fired off two frames but I remember being miffed because I was knew I’d missed a shot. It wasn’t until a couple of days later, when I saw this on the computer, that I realized the mystery of what was happening behind the curtain was quite possibly more intriguing than the shot I originally wanted to make.
This was a special day for me, one I’ll never forget. It was my first afternoon in Kolkata, my first trip to Kumartuli and my first day shooting the Fujifilm X-T1. Being unfamiliar with the new camera might have been part of the reason I was a bit slow to get that first shot, but it worked out in the end. I love a lot of things about this image. The color palette really plays well, with the oranges and blues working through the frame. The hammer and sickle and the decay of the wall are both visually interesting and the contrast via the camera is excellent. It’s the moment though, the bulge of the woman’s arm and hand in the curtain, the posture of her feet as she begins to recede back into her home, with both serving to create some tension and a bit of mystery. There are some who will no doubt say the mystery is gone once the viewer knows the story behind the shot. I’ll give you that. I’m sharing the story here though to demonstrate that sometimes, just like Mick and Keith wrote all those years ago, we don’t always get what we want - but we usually do get what we need. Sometimes that works out better in the end. I’ve learned to let the shot come and not to lament the misses.
I’ll continue to share more images like this from time to time. If there is a particular shot in my portfolio that you’d like to know more about, just send me a note.
Liuzhou - May 4, 2019