HOW I GOT THE SHOT: I came upon this scene about a month ago after finishing a photo session with a boy donning tefillin for the first time. About 100 young Haredi boys had gathered at the Kotel for morning prayers. I was drawn to them as I watched their Rav lead them in reciting the various prayers out loud in unison. This shot illustrates my approach to photographing sensitive subject matter. There are two issues at play here: First, the boys are in the midst of prayer, and out of respect, I didn't want to disturb them. Secondly, I have always found it more difficult to photograph members of the Haredi community. They simply don't want to be photographed, although this is less true for children than adults. Whenever I encounter a sensitive photographic situation, I always make my intent to photograph known and if I am waved off, I turn away and look for another opportunity. More often than not, however, people are flattered when you take an interest in them, and expressing a desire to take their picture often warms them up to the photographer. These boys looked at me curiously, but were devoted enough to their prayers to ignore me.
I kept a respectful distance from the group and chose a 200mm zoom lens, which has the effect of compressing the depth in the photo, thereby making the boys in the rear appear a little closer to the front row. Out of habit when shooting children, I crouched down on one knee to bring the camera to a lower height. I fired off 2-3 frames and disappeared. I cropped the final image just a bit to bring the boys edge to edge, an effect I've mentioned before that gives the photo a sense of expansiveness beyond what is visible.
January 30, 2008
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