Photographing Worry And Wisdom

The look of a life very much lived in the eyes of this dignified man in Chennai, India

I made this photo in Chennai (i.e., Madras), India. I noticed this gentleman while visiting a small village, the building of which my mother had helped to finance, years earlier. I noticed him in the village chapel/meeting room. It was a simple matter to ask him to move, not far from the open doorway, into an area bathed in lovely, soft light.

He looked like a kindly chap and I wanted, as always, to make a life-affirming image. He certainly wore the appearance of a life lived and I couldn't help but be aware of the worry and world weariness that seemed to be etched into his face. It reminds me of the notion that wisdom is a mixture, in equal measure, of intelligence and experience. And this gentleman's experience seemed to be well earned indeed.

Deconstructing a Photograph

I like the delicate tonality evident in the wrap worn around his body and the surrounding background. Notice how the ruffled shape of the wrap around the neck helps to frame his face. The textural qualities in his beard and eyebrows have been highlighted by my decision to opt for a black and white rendering.

The Search for Beauty

Beauty surrounds us. We just have to slow down, take a breath and look. And we have to learn to look with more than our eyes. Our eyes are simply one end of a viewing funnel and it's our choice as to whether that funnel ends at our mind or our heart. One will try to rationalize and make sense of things while the other will simply see without bias.

Likewise, as photographers, we have the choice as to whether the purpose of the funnel is to gather as much information as possible or to open ourselves up to the world around us. Empathy will allow us to better understand the journey others experience and help to concentrate our mind on our own life's purpose.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru