Behind this shot : Happy girl 2

You must have seen this photo in my last What you haven’t seen. I really like this photo and I wanted to decorticate it a bit to show you what I liked about this one. Nothing flashy. I would even say that this photo is rather ordinary. For some people it would be a derogatory definition of their work. Personally, that people describe my work as ordinary makes me rather happy. I no longer look for the exceptional on the street.



This photo is quite characteristic of what I see regularly when I am in Saint-Denis. It was just before Christmas and people were busy in the streets to finish shopping. This little girl with her mom and little sister caught my eye. She beamed and was in a happy mood. I can understand it. Christmas was in two days and beyond that, 5 weeks of vacation would follow ! How not to be happy ? At this location, several small stalls were installed on the sidewalk, forcing passers-by to descend onto the road to cross paths. There were quite a few people and I waited until I had people who frame my main subjects to click.



This technique which consists in closing the frame on the right and on the left, is interesting because one directs the reader’s attention to the mother and her two daughters. In addition, it also adds depth to the image by offering several plans. I already mentioned it in a Street Photography Tips dedicated to Layers. Besides in the background, you have enough context to see that it is a rather urban place with cars, a bicycle and people on the opposite sidewalk.



Post-processing was also important. I wanted to cut this image in half with a rather dark part at the bottom and a rather overexposed part at the top. It was a deliberate choice to transcribe the heat it is doing at this time of the year on Reunion Island. It’s just a pain to walk the streets. Even today, I went to lunch with my wife and I stayed barely 1 hour in the city because I could not bear this moist heat anymore. I had only one desire : to take a good cold shower and go and lock myself in my room with the air conditioning. This is the rendering I had in mind for this photo by deliberately burning the upper part of the image. This process allows me to give depth to the image because nothing is really very clear in the background.

This photo was taken with the Ricoh GR

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2 thoughts on “Behind this shot : Happy girl

  • John Harper

    I was just reading about Colin O’Brien, a London Street/Documentary Photographer for 65 years. His subject matter was the ordinary and as he said “I wasn’t Don McCullin going off to war or David Bailey photographing celebrities, I don’t even travel”. Essentially just like the rest of us. Out of the ordinary comes the extraordinary, that little girl’s smile is priceless, the composition draws us in to it and make us smile too.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      We’re the unknown street photographers, photographying and documenting the unknown small cities. Extraordinary sceneries might happen sometimes but most of the time it’s only mundane situations we have to deal with. I like mundane because life as I see it, is like that.