In this eighty-eight archive story by Kristian Bertel, we learn about taking street portraits in Varanasi in Uttar Prasesh, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
A street portrait just means a likeness of someone. For instance, you can photograph a full body portrait of someone and you can also shoot a closeup face portrait of someone. Anyways, the photographer personally always been drawn and attracted to faces like with this street portrait of an Indian man in Varanasi.
A street portrait just means a likeness of someone. For instance, you can photograph a full body portrait of someone and you can also shoot a closeup face portrait of someone. Anyways, the photographer personally always been drawn and attracted to faces like with this street portrait of an Indian man in Varanasi.

Varanasi street portraiture

As a general rule, if a photographer is shooting from a public space, such as a street or a park, he or she will usually have the right to do so without the consent of the of the subjects. Generally speaking, if you can see it from a public space, you can take a picture of it.

Aperture and lenses
When shooting portraits, it is best to set a wide aperture around f/2.8-f/5.6 to capture a shallow depth of field, so the background behind your subject is nicely blurred, making them stand out better. 85mm portrait lens is by many considered to be the best focal lenght for a good portrait photo, however the photographer prefer 105 mm for himself when taking portraits in the Indian streets. A short telephoto is typically the portrait photographer's favourite focal length with a something around 56mm on a camera with an APS-C sensor or a 85 mm on a full-frame model being ideal. It is as much about how close you end up being to your subject, as the perspective you get.

The definition of a street portrait
Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Street photography, also sometimes called candid photography, is photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Although there is a difference between street and candid photography, it is usually subtle with most street photography being candid in nature and some candid photography being classifiable as street photography. Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Though people usually feature directly, street photography in India might be absent of people and can be of an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic. The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world picturesque.

"The street photographer can be seen as an extension of the flâneur, an observer of the streets who was often a writer or artist"

Framing and timing
Framing and timing can be key aspects of the craft with the aim of some street photography being to create images at a decisive or poignant moment. Street photography can focus on people and their behavior in public, thereby also recording people's history. This motivation entails having also to navigate or negotiate changing expectations and laws of privacy, security and property. In this respect the Street photographer is similar to social documentary photographers or photojournalists who also work in public places, but with the aim of capturing newsworthy events, any of these photographers' images may capture people and property visible within or from public places. The existence of the burgeoning trend of self-photography the so-called-selfies, further complicate ethical issues reflected in attitudes to street photography. However, street photography does not need to exclusively feature people within the frame. It can also focus on traces left by humanity that say something about life. Photographers such as Kristian Bertel | Photography often produce street photography where there are no people in the frame, but their presence is suggested by the subject matter. Much of what is regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the nineteenth century through to the late 1970s, a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras that enabled candid photography in public places.

Varanasi, a cultural centre in India
Varanasi has been a cultural centre of northern India for several thousand years and is closely associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe that dying here and getting cremated along the banks of the holy Ganges river allows one to break the cycle of rebirth and attain salvation, making it a major center for pilgrimage. The city is known worldwide for its many ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. "- Of particular note are the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat, the last two being where Hindus cremate their dead and the Hindu genealogy registers at Varanasi are kept here", the photographer says.

Read also:  Rana Mahal Ghat in Varanasi

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of an Indian man in Varanasi. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.