I spent part of the weekend studying the work of Steve McCurry, one of my favourite photographers, whose portraiture of culturally diverse subjects has brought him international recognition. Of particular note is “Afghan Girl”.
According to Wikipedia this image was
named as “the most recognized photograph” in the history of the National Geographic magazine and her face became famous as the cover photograph on the June 1985 issue. The photo has also been widely used on Amnesty International brochures, posters, and calendars.
Many of his other portraits are equally profound, and while “Afghan Girl” was taken using a 105mm prime, a large proportion of his portraits are achieved using a 50mm f/1.4 prime – a very similar lens to the one I’ll be using for this assignment. Here’s one example, “Girl with Green Shawl,” taken in 2002 when McCurry returned to Pakistan (where he had photographed the “Afghan Girl” in a refugee camp over a decade before):
One of the features of this image is the shallow depth of field which has caused the shawl around the girl’s face to become blurred, with her face – and those penetrating eyes – in sharp focus. I’m hoping to use depth-of-field to good effect in my own portraits, to put the focus on the subject of each image while retaining a recognisable background. I’m confident I can replicate a similar look if I want to – I happened to take a picture of my cat a couple of weeks ago that has a similar depth-of-field effect with piercing eyes sharply in focus. 😀 Here it is!