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© Artem Zhushman

This week our Behind the lens feature is all about family love and connection, as we share the stories of the images that won our Family and Smiles and laughter contests.

Locals in highs mountains by Artem Zhushman (top photo)
Winner of the expert vote in
Family

"Documenting the world" - I chose that as my mission. Documenting places I've visited, faces I've met, cultures that will vanish very soon and nature suffering from urbanisation and mass production. To touch one's heart with an image, to make them stop for a moment and think about their role and responsibility in our world - this is the best prize for me.

I made this shot in a small highland village in Nepal. I met the schoolteacher during a visit to a local primary school. And it's important to say that to find a young educated man working as a village schoolteacher is very rare in Nepal. People dream about moving to the capital, Kathmandu City, of getting better education and better jobs. In spite of this, I met a lot of people thinking outside the box, who realize that national future depends on education and care of kids.

The teacher invited me to his house for a cup of tea and introduced me to his wife. To keep this moment in memory and to tell this story to others I asked them to pose for one family shot. Composing the frame I tried to get some surrounding environment into the picture, to give the viewer an idea of how the family lives.

It was a simple stone hut, typical for that region, with only the necessary stuff like the wood stove. Traditional hat of the Tamang people on the woman's head gives us an idea about traditions that people still follow. That family was nice to me and they had nothing against me taking this photo. They posed in a very natural way, so all that I needed was to manage the light and to click. I used sunlight coming from entrance as a main light source.

The post-processing was only about colour balance tweaking. I reduced excessive warm shade, making the skin tones look natural and keeping the feeling of the cozy environment. For that I used the Lightroom basic tools".

© Hardik Gaurav

Circle of life by Hardik Gaurav
Winner of the crowd vote in
Family

"My classmates, myself and our supervisor were bidding our last adieu to the people who had been kind enough to help us out in providing information about their small village (Dhinkli, Udaipur in Rajasthan, India), during our M.Sc. Anthropological Fieldwork. This old man was also one of our informants. Just as we came to thank him, a woman came from the dwelling on the right along with this baby. The old man at once took the baby in his lap and hugged him.

Fortunately, I had my camera on me at that very moment, and as if in a sudden response to this emotional stimulus I pointed the camera towards them and froze that moment. What actually made this picture so special is the fact that it was taken at the perfectly candid moment, and the loving expression on the old man's face was mesmerising.

I love shooting portraits and, of course, for portraits most of the photographers prefer a 50mm lens. I had Canon 50mm 1.8D fitted at that moment on my Canon 600D and for a perfect blurry DOF I usually prefer clicking at aperture value (AV) mode set to F1.8. Thus all I needed to do was to just freeze that very moment, setting the focus manually. The old man wasn't very far from me and I didn't want to capture anything else other than their faces, and they were in a perfect position in the viewfinder. So I just clicked the picture from where I was standing at that moment.

There are a few pictures that are so perfect that you don't feel like they need much post-processing, and this photo was one of them. I just decided to desaturate it, as I thought that would be the right treatment for such a dramatic moment. Portraits, I believe, most of the time are best expressed without colours. So after desaturation I decided to increase the temperature too a little bit and the result was a gorgeous-looking strong portrait. So nothing more than that went into the post-processing of this image".

© Steven Grogan

Video Call to Australia by Steven Grogan
Winner of the expert vote in
Smiles and laughter

"I was booked to shoot a wedding at the Hilltop Country House, a beautiful venue in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. Bridal preparation is probably my favourite part of a traditional wedding day as the bride is usually surrounded by some of the people most precious to her: the bridesmaids, children, close friends and parents. This can be a very emotional time and I love being on-hand to document these often incredibly raw moments that you just can’t stage – smiles, laughter, tears, nerves, excitement – it’s all there. Seeing as my photographic style is very much geared up to capture emotion this is a part of a wedding day that I absolutely love.

I class myself as a storyteller, so anticipation is absolutely paramount to how I work. Alongside the usual structure of a wedding I'm always looking for other moments that aren't necessarily in the wedding day itinerary. During this particular wedding the bride announced that she was going to Skype her friend in Australia who wasn't able to make the wedding due to her work commitments. I knew straight away that this would be a great moment to capture, so I knelt down to be at eye level with the bride and waited for the moment she got through to her friend. Creatively, I use a great deal of shallow depth of field in my work so I made sure an AF point was over the bride's eyes and as soon as contact was made I fired the shutter, I'd set my camera to burst mode as I knew I'd have to fire off about 5 frames per second in order to capture the moment I was looking for. I had a speedlight mounted on the hot-shoe of my camera to fire off a little fill-flash to balance the bright natural light coming from the window beside the bride.

I did very little post-processing. My editing workflow is pretty straightforward, but rather time-consuming, as I don't batch edit. The many variations in light throughout a full wedding day mean I prefer to tackle every image individually at the post-production stage. I shoot in RAW, so I made the usual contrast and white balance adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw before converting to black and white in Adobe Photoshop. After that I applied a small amount of sharpening and that's all.

Check out my wedding photography website and my business Facebook page".


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