fisherwoman, portraiture, goa, colours

Project Brief

Assignment 2 | Inspired by the News by Suzanne Opton | Page 256
Make a conceptual portrait based on a news story

Photographers are apt to draw inspiration from any number of places—our histories and dreams, long walks, paintings, music, novels, other people’s photographs, or the news. The task of photojournalism is, of course, to illustrate the news while adhering to a strict ethic of impartiality. But this assignment calls for quite the opposite: a conceptual portrait that is based on an idea about the news story, rather than being a document of the story itself.

Choose an ongoing or specific news item and make a photograph that reveals new insight into the story. You may be lucky enough to be able to find people whose circumstances are directly related to the story (an illegal immigrant fro a story about immigration, for example). Or find a person who in some fashion matches your idea. Your photo may touch upon the history or consequences of the story or it may deal with the emotions of the subjects involved. You should feel free to be very directional with your subject and the intention about the gesture, the setting, and the light. Less is more. The simpler your concept, the stronger the image.


Ongoing personal pet project which sees Jane D’Souza and I, take on 307 assignments in The Photographer’s Playbook


Photography by Rhea Gupte

This assignment was particularly challenging for me, as I felt a block towards how I could approach it, what subject I might want to use and how I would take it on in terms of execution and thought process. The choice for the news story especially, had me think and rethink this assignment with several moments of feeling like it was simply something I couldn’t do. Being a novice at portraiture didn’t help either. Although I enjoy photographing people going about their day to day life, a portrait session is a lot different as it involves the full knowledge of the subject being photographed and the challenge of still being able to capture a candid and honest emotion.

I finally narrowed down to a couple of news stories I had been following over time which led me to the issue of demonetisation which India has been faced with. The idea behind this portrait was to provide an insight into the feelings of local business owners and street sellers as well as the uneducated class. How a sudden announcement of this sort may leave them perturbed and commonly without a plan of action. A lot of times, all they can do is rely on friends and well-wishers for advise and the way forward. I wanted to showcase both the strong and vulnerable side of this demographic through the portraits.

Do view Jane’s dreamy rendition of the Delhi smog over on her blog. It is beautifully executed!

Every time I embark upon a new assignment from this book, I am enthralled by the opportunities it gives me to think differently. I have a very strong feeling that 307 assignments down the line, I will emerge much stronger and wiser as a creative, with the ability to take on a lot more conceptually. It is a growth process that I look forward to experiencing. Onward to assignment 3!

Join the conversation

  1. I love the main portrait Rhea. Way to step out of your comfort zone and shooting portraits so up close. I think you should more in these series.

  2. Something about your captures for this post got me to pause and ponder what was the story behind this woman. Her eyes are full of strength! Very inspiring project, you’re taking on! 😀

    1. Thank you so much! I am lagging far behind in the timeline of this pet project, but I am hoping to make up for it soon. So glad you liked the outcome of this assignment!