Austerity and Prosperity Brief- Portraits

On November 4th, I flew to Jakarta, Indonesia. I decided before I left that I wanted to shoot this brief while I was there I wanted to document the completely different culture here. I had originally wanted to shoot both austerity and prosperity to create a contrast. However, when I was there, I couldn’t help but notice the poverty in such a developing country, so naturally I started to document it, although there are a few portraits in the set which represent prosperity more so.

I’ve particularly enjoyed taking portraits of people, and I’ve discovered that people are excited to have their photo taken . It has surprised me how happy the people are even though the conditions they’re living and working in are below first world standards. They seem oblivious and content in the lives that they’re living.


The first image was taken from a low angle to ensure I got the whole vehicle in the shot. I thought this would give it more context as I wanted it to be clear how many children were in the back of the van. I used an ISO of 100 and an F stop of 5. The original image was too bright as I struggled to adjust to the bright daylight, so I tried to bring the light down during post production, however I think the original image was too over exposed. I particularly like the facial expressions of the children in this shot as it shows their pure happiness and excitement at having their photograph taken.

The last image is one of my favourites from the trip. It was shot off the hip as I was preparing to take a group shot of the boys behind the main subject. I like the direct address the subject is giving the camera as well as the juxtaposition of a poverty stricken child and the more well off boys behind him. As it was shot in a shadowed area, I used a slightly higher ISO of 400 and an F stop of 5 to ensure the picture was lit correctly.

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The above portraits were taken in several different areas, but in my opinion, document the developing world as well as the happy people within Jakarta and the surrounding areas. I used a low ISO (no higher than 200) for most of the images as they were shot in daylight and I didn’t want them to be over exposed and my F stops were between 5 and 5.6 for the same reason.


This image is potentially my favourite portrait from the trip. I like how it captures the kind of poverty the subject is both living and working in; yet he was still happy and excited to have his picture taken. I crouched down to get the shot, making me level with the subject as I didn’t want to seem superior. The 50 mm lens I used for the shot enabled me to capture the background for context. I used an aperture of 5.6 so the background was in focus and the subject was lit well enough.

Some of the people I photographed would be considered more well off as they had or were having an education and they were visibly were more clean and had better clothing etc.


Both of the above images were taken with an ISO of 200 as the day was naturally bright, and both images feature school girls on a school trip. I think their attire shows that they’re more well off than a lot of the other subjects in my portraits were. As well as that, in the second image, the girls are taking a ‘selfie’ which shows that they can afford to purchase technology, again proving the point that they are more prosperous then a lot of the other subjects. I used slightly higher F stops for these images (7.1 and 10) which enabled the background to drop slightly out of focus which, in turn, gave more obvious focal points for the images.


These three portraits are some of my favourite from the whole trip as I think the subjects worked really well against their backdrops. Again, all of them were taken using natural, available light, however my ISO ranged from 340-1200 as two of the pictures were taken in more shadowed areas. For the second image, I crouched down to make myself slightly lower than the subjects, but for the other two, I was level with the subjects which I think makes the people more ‘real’.  I particularly like the colours in the last image as I think they make the subject stand out from the background more.


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