Assignment 1: Shooting Day and Final Five Portraits

At 8:30 in the morning, I went to the specified location that the four construction workers and I agreed upon and I was so delighted to find out that four more joined for the photo shoot so there were a total of eight welling construction workers waiting for their photos to be taken.  As I have not met these workers before I was a little uncomfortable and they were a bit tense.

I remembered Bob Krist’s explanation in his book “Spirit of Place” on how to break the ice by using phrases in the native tongue of the person I want to photograph, see post  (Photographing People) in research section.  So, I did that and whenever I got stuck in the middle I would go back to English and then we would start to laugh.  I asked the workers about their names, countries, age and marital status.  I was told that one of the workers is a grandfather and we joked about him looking so young for a grandfather.  After we were all completely at ease; we started the photo shoot.  My friend was there with me and assisted me by taking notes like I asked her to.  Ramlal from India was willing to start first so I did a quick test of the location he would stand on for shooting.  I decided to use the 50mm 1.4 lens because I wanted a very shallow depth of field and my other lenses can only be set at F/4.  I also made sure I am not very close to the subject in a way that would create a distortion.

Below are the test shots I took of Ramlal and reasons not to use them.


The villa in the background was very distracting and unpleasant.


I liked the background, I find it interesting, however, the sun was casting an ugly shadow on Ramlal’s face.


The subject is comfortable and the background is fairly blurred and does not distract much from the main subject. So, this location was the final choice.

One by one the construction workers stood in front of the camera and I started taking their photos.  I asked them not to smile but to show confidence in anyway they wish to present. The weather was very hot and humid and I did not want to make them stay for long, I also could not bear humidity so I got the workers bottles of water on my way to the location and the photo shoot went pretty well and fast.

Below is a contact sheet that shows all the construction workers I took photos of:

color set

Colour Version

bw set

Black and White Version

Since the assignment asks for five portraits; I had to exclude three from the set and my choices were as follows:


1) Ramlal from India, 34 years old, married with two kids. His photo was excluded because of the double chin which is unflattering in a subject. I should have asked him to adjust the head position.


2) Mohammed Shajaha, 29 years old from Bangladesh, married with two kids. His photo was excluded because of the posture and body expression as he was a bit more shy than the others.


3) Younis Ali, 28 years old from Bangladesh, married with one kid. His photo was excluded because he was a bit off to the left than the rest.  Other than that I liked his portrait and it was hard to choose between him and the others.

The Final Five Portrait: 



Mohammed Alf Wa Misa, 28 years old, single From Bangladesh. His confidence was very obvious and when I saw him, I was hoping him to be within the series.



Mohammed Lilpol, 36 years old, single from Bangladesh.



Roopesh, 29 years old, single from India. I was going to exclude this photo because of the harsh shadow on the cheek but the position of portrait number 3 (Younis Ali) was more distracting than this one.



Hannan, 38 years old from Bangladesh, married with two kids and a grandfather. Hannan was very intense during the shoot and I thought of excluding his portrait but his harsh features and intense gaze catches the eyes.



Sadeq, 38 years old, married with kids, from Bangladesh. I loved his confidence and how the sweat is obvious as to show how hard working he is. He was my second favourite.

My final portraits are a typology of hard working migrant construction workers.


In the post processing, I converted one set of the portraits to black and white and another to desaturated color.  I liked both versions and I asked my fellow students and family to pick their preference but it would always end up as a tie!  Below are two versions of portrait number one from the selected ones:




Desaturated Color

I am a fan of black and white when it comes to portrait but for this series I decided to choose the colored version because I liked the contrast between the blue helmet and red shirt.  I also liked the outcome of the colour desaturation.  It is not strong to take away from the subject’s identity, on the contrary it adds to it and takes the ordinary boring portrait and gives it a sense of energy.

Technical Information and Post Process:

Camera:  Canon EOS 5D Mark III.                    Lens:  EF50mm f/1.4 USM

Aperture:  f/2.8           Shutter:  1/2000           ISO:  100

Images were taken in RAW and I added a slight HDR effect and desaturated the colors in Adobe Photoshop.


5 thoughts on “Assignment 1: Shooting Day and Final Five Portraits

  1. Judy Bach says:

    Excellent set of portraits Ghada , they work well as a set and individually too . After initially preferring the b&w I think you made the right decision to go for the colour versions , they look great.


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