Unveiling the story and execution strategy behind one of the bestselling and critically acclaimed image “Colors of Faith”
“Colors of Faith” (photo on the left) has a very special place in my heart and portfolio. It still remains one my most prized photographs and yet, what amazes me the most is, the number of interpretations people have presented for same photograph since then. Advertisers called it, a great material for marketing as half the frame offers free space for customization while Non profit organizations saw a positive streak and representation of strength, hope and energy in the photograph. I generally agree with all the interpretations i have come across, however none of those are anywhere close to the idea i started with.
It all started in December 2014, when i had just begun with photography. After i spent initial few months, learning technical aspects of photography and looking at works of renowned photographers for ideas/inspiration, I was quite motivated and hungry to create something different or unique. As an artist, I have been trying my best to not be repetitive, and not do what others have already done. But as they say, easier said than done. I did not want to rush onto any random idea that popped up in my head, so I took my time and continued to challenge the artistic side of mine. Fortunately, I did not have to wait for long. The seed of this concept was sown in my mind, after i watched a concert on TV. The electrifying sight of a huge crowd cheering for the artist on stage, holding their flashing phones in their hands, arms up in air and waving, got me thinking.
So now that i was certain about the main element of my photograph, I began brainstorming on the end result. I am sure, many of you would agree that, every photograph tells a story and if you remove the artist and dramatic environment from the photograph above, the crowd by itself does not have enough story to tell.
True to the quote, “The Best things in life are often found at most unexpected places…”, I found next 2 pieces of the puzzle at a place, where i didn’t expect to find them. Before i talk any further about how everything started to fit together in the frame, let me share a couple of things here. I am not super religious, but I am not an atheist either. Being a Hindu, whenever I can, I go to the ISKCON of Washington DC for evening prayer sessions. In one such session, 2 of the statues (Lord Chaitanya And Lord Nityananda), that i had seen number of times before, rang a bell.
Take a look at the picture on the right and you, too, shall see why. I was still trying to connect the dots when, towards the end of the prayer session, the devotees of Lord Krishna, true to the tradition and culture, began dancing as an offering of their love and devotion to the god. It was more than a mere coincidence that people were dancing in a manner similar to the way two statues posed. But was that enough for me to imagine the entire photograph in my head? No, it wasn’t.
Another couple of weeks went by. Winter gave way to Spring and the Indian Hindu Festival of Holi was around the corner. Every year, ISKCON of DC organizes a fabulous event called Holi DC to mark/celebrate the beginning of spring. While booking tickets for the event, I stumbled upon a video that event organizers shared on social media to promote the event. The video showcased a fun activity (Hourly Color Throw) wherein the crowd would get together around the performance area and on a count of 10, throw handful of colors up in the air. Although the scene was filmed from the top angle, that video turned out to be the final piece of the puzzle that i needed to finish the picture in my head. I knew exactly what i wanted, but i had a new challenge – “Executing the Shot”.
Finally, we come to the day when it all happened. I reached the venue, only to observe that the place was buzzing with people of all ages. The atmosphere was total fun but nothing short of a chaos. Each of the faces in the crowd were painted in different colors and patterns. The conditions were not suitable for photography. Colors (dry and wet) were flying all around and people were dancing and running all around in the crowd. I knew it was a terrible idea to try and click anything from anywhere between the crowd.
I decided to go on to the performance stage and chose to settle down in the corner of the stage. This position gave me a fairly good view of the crowd, looking down, and allowed me to adjust the frame to my liking. Rest was all about timing and picking the right camera settings.
I decided to go with the 50mm prime lens, F/7.1 to smoothen out the clouds of color a little bit, 1/1000 sec for sharpness and ISO-100. I edited 3 different clicks of the same scene (seen on the left) differently and the rest is history.
Some of the Accolades that my photos from “Colors” series have earned include
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