The Grip : Making of a Portrait

Portraits at Bosco
Pavithra. 13 years old. Chamrajpet. Bangalore. July 2016. Photograph by NIshant Ratnakar.

The kids took their turn one by one for me to make their portraits that day. Most of them were children from families that lived on the streets or children who ran away from their homes. But, now all of them were in the care of the shelter home run by an NGO in Bangalore city.

The shoot was almost over and the last child came in. She was the oldest of the dozen children whom I photographed on that overcast day. The brief from the client required that each child poses with a toy or some of the items at the shelter home.

She came in front of the camera and stood there quietly, holding a doll. It needed me to direct other kids on getting their pose as per the requirement of the assignment. For her, I didn’t have to intervene. I had to just converse to break the ice between me and her as I made her portraits.

Her grip on the toy was way different from that of the other children. It didn’t seem like she was holding a toy. It looked like she was a seasoned adult carrying a baby with years of expertise and ease.

But, she was just thirteen. Then, how?

My guess was right. She was one among the 6 siblings in her family. She had carried her younger brothers and sisters helping her mother in their daily struggle.

And that’s why that grip.

Bangalore NGO Portrait Photographer
Pavithra. 13 years old. Chamrajpet. Bangalore. July 2016. Photograph by Nishant Ratnakar.


‎Strobist‬ information below.

  • Light Source: One Canon 430EXIII for the key light. Camera left, slightly above at 45 degrees to the subject. A silver reflector for fill light to the right of the subject.
  • Modifier: ‪Godox‬ 60×60 softbox with both inner and outer diffusion panel in place.
  • Camera and the lens: ‪‎Canon‬ EOS ‪5DMarkII‬ with 24-70 f2.8 lens at f/2.8 and 1/200th s shutter. ISO 100. Shot outdoors at about 2:00 pm on an overcast day.
  • Trigger: A pair of ‪‎Yongnuo‬ ‪YN622CII‬ transceivers.

Behind the Scenes shot of the portrait showing the placement of lights and the location.

BTS from a portrait shoot for an NGO. Bangalore. July 2016
BTS from a portrait shoot for an NGO. Bangalore. July 2016

I am a Portrait, Wedding and Editorial photographer, and a photography educator based in Bangalore, India. But I travel across the country on assignments. To contact me for assignments, photography workshops, or any other queries do write to me via the Contact form.

Nishant Ratnakar
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By Nishant Ratnakar

Nishant is a Bangalore, India based Wedding, Portrait & Editorial Photographer. He is available for assignments across India. He also conducts photography workshops and offers personal photography mentorship.

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