Couple exchanges long, loving look against background of empty stadium prior to Olympic Festival in Durham, N. C. (© Michael Maher).
Arriving early for a track meet at Duke University stadium, I was assessing the shooting angles, backgrounds, and levels of sunlight at the football stadium. There were scarcely any spectators in the stands, but I spotted a couple walking around together, hand-in-hand, looking for seats. I watched on and off as the man and woman slowly climbed the stairs to the middle of the empty seating section and sat down. They looked amorously at each other, began to hug, kiss, and I noticed how alone they were in their section of seats. Though I shot several close-ups of them interacting (feeling a bit like a voyeur), it was clear the more interesting visual would show them alone in the row after row of empty horizontal benches surrounding them. It was funny to see a couple finding solitude in such a public space. The only question was where to place them in the frame of the picture --- top, middle, or bottom. Since it is never good to place subjects in the middle and make a picture too symmetrical, I framed them at the bottom of the photo, so the viewer’s eye would go to the seemingly endless rows of empty bleachers first and then to the couple.
1) Not all portraits and personalities are close-up facial expressions – some can be shot from afar if they convey human interaction.
2) People can express love and affection in a number of different ways, often through body language.
3) Photo composition is more interesting if it is not symmetrical – place the main subject to the side, top or bottom, but not in the center.