Stay or Go?


Though I may take many photos on any one occasion, I edit down to a small few. How do I choose? My images need to say something so I’ll use this one to start a small series on reading photographs.

The temperatures in Vietnam were intense … until the rain broke the stifle and gave me an opportunity to photograph the reaction of the village children.

Cartier-Bresson talks about “the decisive moment” in street photography – getting the timing just right to freeze the intriguing expression or action. Here I’ve actually caught Boy having a decisive moment too!

Conflict is written all over his face: should he stay and play or run for cover?

  • Movement is conveyed by the body language and his positioning and proportion at the front of the picture.
  • Usually I like my subjects to be looking into the space within the frame to keep the viewer’s attention but the fact the boy is at the edge and looks as if he is just about to step out of the frame perfectly fits this story.
  • Rain drops are visible but his clothing is not yet soaked so we know the rain has just started. And we know it is heavy because his shoes are already sloshing in it!
  • There’s an abandoned pair of shoes pointed in another direction. ’Boy’ had not been alone and clearly his mate decided to get out of the rain … and was quicker than him! (He’s probably laughing from the sideline – ‘outside of the frame’).
  • Colour works really well here. The yellow immediately attracts our attention – first to the boy (larger proportion of yellow) and then to the ‘side story’ of the abandoned shoes. There are no other colours grabbing our attention and this enables a simple message.
  • The toy in his hand tells us what he had been doing prior to this.
  • The background is textured but not in a distracting way. This enables the subject and shoes to stand out.

What decision did he make?


We all knew he would!!

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