Apr 1st

2009

Without The Frame: Sherpur

roti

I shot these (click to enlarge) over an early breakfast while on assignment in Bangladesh recently. Our breakfast joint was no more than a hole in the wall off the main street, we’d go in at dawn, somewhere between the rising volume of the morning call to prayer and the sun coming up hot and fast. Halfway through our first plates of roti, dahl, and eggs, the sun would peak through the door and sidelight the steam from the fresh roti. And by the time I finished shooting, my meal was cold. I looked forward to these mornings, it’s rare that the light and the food is so good all at once, the shooting-grounds only inches from my breakfast plate.

I look at these frames now and they seem so serene, no hints whatsoever of the buidling chaos and noise in the streets, as though the moment the sun awakes all the horns in the city wake up and begin their incessant din until long after the sun’s gone down on the other side of day. And in those hours we’d be miles away, in small villages tucked up against the Indian border, photographing children and families, listening to stories of how elephants trampled their home, and how they’ve rebuilt and moved on. I shake my head alot on these trips.

The quality and direction of light while shooting food is absolutely crucial. Watching it play in this man’s kitchen morning after morning gave me a renewed appreciation for the subtleties of light, not only from one hour to the next, but from one minute, one moment, to the next. You turn and it’s gone. I love this about our craft, playing with something so intangible, so fleeting.

Comments (4)
  1. Jeffrey Chapman

    April 1, 2009 at 4:40 am

    You’re really making me wish that I had my passport and airline tickets in my pocket right now.

    Perhaps I just haven’t noticed, but I don’t recall you watermarking other images. Have you now decided that this is a must?

  2. David

    April 1, 2009 at 6:25 am

    Hey Jeffrey, thanks. As I type this I am conscious of how badly I’d love to be back there eating roti and staring down the tunnel of a long day of location shooting.

    I’ve been on and off about watermarking, usually I only do it if I an posting them at larger sizes, like these. Most watermarks can be cloned out in no time, so it seems almost an effort in self-delusion.

    How’s NY? There’s a chance I’ll be at B&H in NYC for a book launch in June – would love to see you somehow.

  3. Zach LeBar

    April 1, 2009 at 11:45 am

    fantastic story David. The dynamism of light is what I think makes this craft exciting and ever changing. You’ll never be able to go and see every way that light could hit every subject, its infinite. At the same time, the light provides constraints on how and what we can shoot. It’s the ultimate nemesis, something you at times can’t live with, but also can’t live without.

    As far as the watermaking, I think the way you do it is good. Annoying enough that it’ll discourage the average cheat, but subtle enough to still enjoy the image. In my opinion, an image like this, and really all your images, is so beautiful and pure, that when you go to the effort of cloning out a watermark, it takes something away from it, corrupts it to me. But hey, I’m not the image stealing type, so that’s probably not the way they feel.

  4. April 6, 2009 at 8:33 am

    My favorite times of day are always the periods of change, of the city waking up or falling asleep, of worlds opening and closing; so much fun to explore…