Now one of my favorite photographs I’ve taken, this was almost the photograph that never happened. Over spring break, my family and I traveled to Playas del Rosarito in Baja California, and as usual, I carried my camera (a Canon T3i Rebel) with me whenever we left the house. However, on this particular trip I was having a hard time actually shooting anything. My passion is and always has been street photography; and the language, people, and scenes on the streets of Mexico were so bright and full of character that I got overwhelmed. I felt that there was no way I could possibly convey all the excitement and life occurring around me through my camera in four days, especially with my family pulling me in all different directions. Every time I pulled out my camera, I found myself disappointed with what I captured.
On the second-to-last day of our trip, my friend’s little brother, Max, decided he had to have a Mexican-made ukulele. I went with him and my friend into town to search through the street vendors for the perfect ukulele. As I wandered through the maze of booths, vendors, and stalls, I came across the man in this photograph. He caught my eye because he was peacefully caught up in his work making leather shoes and belts – an extreme contrast to the loud and colorful streets. The perfect light came through a hole in the makeshift roof right onto him, naturally lighting up him and his work. The composition couldn’t have been better if I had planned it. This was every street photographer’s dream. Although the light was perfect, it worried me that the background might be too dark. Even more so, that this man might not want his photo taken by an American tourist, and my limited knowledge of Spanish would not help the situation. Because of these factors, I almost kept walking. At the last minute, I decided to just go for it and take the shot. I adjusted my ISO to 1600 in hopes of making the background a little lighter, without washing out my subject. My f-stop was set to 4.0 and my shutter speed was 1/160. I took a couple steps back, and put him in the bottom right corner of the photo, and framed him nicely by his finished products hanging up around the stall, and zoomed in until I had an 18 mm foal length. As soon as I shot it, I was so glad I took the chance. The picture came out just as I had envisioned it, and it told a story about the everyday culture of Rosarito.
About the Photographer:
My name is Kelly Lienhard, and I am a freshman at Northern Arizona University this year. I am a journalism major and a photography minor, and I hope to be a photojournalist someday. My mom is a photographer, so I love taking photos, however, my high school photography class sparked my passion for photography class when my teacher assigned us a street photography project, and I realized what really inspired me was other place’s stories. Since then, I have had photographs featured on the local news, shot friends’ senior portraits, and taken many more photography classes.
To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/4th-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project. Please take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Kelly would love to hear from you!