Photography, Retouching, and Life. 

The free-writing platform of Pratik Naik. A mix of curated content and personal writings. 

The Stories Behind The Photograph

The Stories Behind The Photograph

If a photo is worth a thousand words, what are the stories behind them worth? 

We start this series with some beautiful stories along with the photos that make them so. It's fascinating to find out what lies beneath the surface by just taking a glance at some of these images and reading the narrative. 

Eli Dreyfuss

It was like every other Sunday afternoon. I was sitting, editing some photos I took the previous week, when all the sudden I felt a massive what I thought was a "cramp"that went from my back to my chest. It felt like i had an elephant on my chest and it was stopping me from breathing even a single deep breath. Trying to relieve the pain, I took some asthma medicine because I thought it was that, I took pain meds, a hot shower, but the pain still did not go away, It only got worse. That is when I decided to call 911. A few minutes later they arrive and it is 2am. I have never felt so scared in my life. The began to take my vital and my heart rate was at 142 sitting still.

A half an hour later my mom and I rush to the hospital where I was instantly admitted. Over the course of the next 2 days I would be attached to IV'S, have blood tests taken in the middle of the night, x-rays and cat scans of my lungs, and really bad food. The diagnosis was a collapsed lung. The whole in my lungs was sized at 10% and therefore healed on its own. The entire experience was one of the scariest I have ever felt, and I am incredibly thankful to even be alive.

Grayson Lauffenburger

i met a buddy of mine named Party James in Rome a few years back and, true to his namesake, he insisted we go out.

We went to one bar in which we stayed until they closed at 2 am. I pushed to go home but James insisted we head to another bar. So we hopped into a cab, told the guy to take us to another bar (didn't really matter which one as long as it was open) and we headed to the complete opposite side of town. We stayed at the next bar until about 4 when I decided I was leaving. James decided he was staying.

I get a call at about 5 in the morning and James is completely incoherent (he had been more or less sober when I left so this was a bit of a surprise). After being on the phone for about half an hour, I got enough information out of him to realize that he had somehow gotten his ass kicked and was sitting on the Spanish steps covered in his own blood.

I told him to hop into a cab and come over and this was the face that met me. A couple fractured cheek bones, a chipped tooth, a pretty gnarly concussion. Cherry on top - he was in Rome to celebrate his mothers birthday and the brunch (to which i was invited) was about 3 hours after this photo was taken.

We spent the remaining time trying to ice his face down with frozen vegetables and the sort but needless to say our amateur medical practices yielded meager results. That was not a comfortable birthday brunch to attend considering the guest of honors son had gotten his face smashed in but now in retrospect I always laugh when I think about it. We also have yet to figure out what happened or who did it.

David Bowie

This is a scan of a 4x5 negative.

In Virginia, there is this bridge in Crawford Road that everyone says is haunted and many are afraid of. Well, for my final assignment in my large format class, I had the idea to shoot a photo here at night. So, a friend and I went out there at about 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Being night, I left my car on and lit the bridge with my headlights, while I took two long exposure shots.

After about 30 minutes, we packed up and were about to leave. I put the car in gear and gave it gas, and it immediately died. All the lights and electronics still worked. It just wouldn't start. Being a manual, we tried to push jump-start it. That failed, too. So, we called for some roadside assistance.

When the guy got there 30 minutes later, he hooked up the charger pack and goes "Huh, that's weird." And we respond, "What?" To which he replies, "Well, this says you have full power. You don't need a jump." So, I got in, and it started right up.

I later found this site saying how very haunted this area is. Read the Crawford Road entry at the bottom:

Exposure/Photo details: f/64, 100 ISO 4x5 film @ 12 minutes.

Max Chesnut

Ever sense I was little my mom always told me that she sees me living in Australia and loving Australia. Now I have always rejected that notion for the longest time until I took this photo & the moment behind this photo.

Now the reason I was even in Australia & Canberra of all places started 6 months before in London where I met a girl named Erin. Erin & I meet at a bar and ended up hitting it off right away, but unfortunately for us we only had 2.5 days together in London where she had to fly home & I continue my trip to Paris, but we ended up staying in touch and growing on our connection we had in London.

Now after six months of late night skype talks, many FB messages, & a promise to see one another again ASAP I found my self booking a ticket to Sydney for 2.5 weeks with plans on staying in Canberra her home town for a weekend. And with that I was on a plane flying to Sydney where Erin & I spent the first week and half in Sydney where she showed me around, I meet her friends, & I got to know her even better, but I also noticed my self falling in love with everything I was experiencing from the city, to the life style, even accents well especially the accents.

On the 2nd weekend I was there we ended up traveling to Canberra where Erin grew up & if you know anything about Canberra it is the fact that every Australian talks so much crap about there Capitol and how boring it is with nothing to do. Except for Erin now, so with mixed expectations and a vague idea of what to expect we ventured out to the Capitol. So on the first day of us arriving in Canberra, Erin set off on her mission for me to enjoy my time in the Capitol so we ended up going out for a nature walk 2 minutes from her family home.

This trail was beyond beautiful, with views of the mountains, the valley filled with horses, cows, & this family of Kangaroos that where just hopping around in the valley. As any foreigner in a place like Australia, I immediately bolted toward the Kangaroos in an attempt to take a photo of them, also never have seen one in really life I just wanted to get close. But every time I tried to get closer & closer they just hopped further & further away towards the sunset. And this is the moment when I captured this image above, I hit a point where I knew I couldn't get any closer & I had to just capture the moment as it was & to me it was the perfect one.

With Erin right beside me in a field in Australia, with kangaroos hooping away it just hit me that I was half way around the world & my heart was just stolen by Erin & Australia.

Daniel Raghu

This is the penultimate photograph from the series on the Nepal earthquakes and I think this one holds special meaning to me.

I was on my way to visit a few people and help out when a stranger approached and asked if I had a camera with me. Since I did he wanted me to follow him. He led me to this lady and sat down beside her and she gestured for me to take a picture (she had no teeth and I'm guessing she couldn't speak). I showed her the picture and I'll never forget the way her face lit up. As she was smiling I knew I wanted to capture that because it was a moment I would always remember; and she obliged. It was only when I was converting it to black and white that I realised she actually had tears in her eyes.

This fragile, old lady had lost everything and yet there she was smiling in the face of adversity with a smile that could really brighten up any day.

This is what really posed a challenge - here was someone who had nothing and yet hadn't given up. She stood firm and held her head up high. How easily we tend to give up at times instead of staying strong!

I'll never forget the moment she asked me to take a picture of her and the way she smiled when I showed her the picture - that's a memory I'll always cherish.

Jason Kruppa

This is painter/photographer George Dureau, whom Robert Mapplethorpe admired so much that he traveled to New Orleans to see him a number of times in the 70s when Mapplethorpe was beginning his own photographic career.

I got to know George in the last few years of his life through a mutual friend. When I worked in the French Quarter, we would pass George's house every morning, and he would have snacks ready for us and would talk for a few minutes before we went on our way. 

Often when leaving work, I'd stop by and talk to George for a bit before heading home. I was just beginning to take photography seriously, and I had the great fortune to see sketches, paintings and 20x20 darkroom prints of his photo work around his three story home/studio. In retrospect, I realize now that he was beginning to show early signs of dementia, but after a few minutes of his trademark dramatic flourishes, we would sometimes sit down and talk for a little while in the falling light of his studio. He would offer me juice, and I would ask him about how he was feeling, what he was working on, how he worked, etc.

At some point I began suggesting to George that I shoot his portrait, but planning such an endeavor proved to be challenging. He would always say he needed to dye his hair, or his beard, or some such evasion. The best plan seemed to be not to plan, and one Saturday I just showed up with my camera and said, "Hey George, let's do your portrait!" 

He responded flamboyantly, "Where do you want me? *How* do you want me?" I sat him by a window in his studio and let him be silly for a few minutes, mugging for the camera. Then, in between the faces he was making, I caught a moment of vulnerability from him. 

As George's health began to decline, my friend began looking after him more and eventually became curatrix of his estate. When she moved him to an assisted living facility, many of his longtime friends declined to visit, confronted by their own sense of mortality or saying that they wanted to remember him when he was sharp and vibrant. I only had the chance to see him there once, and while he didn't remember me, he was nonetheless gracious and welcoming, and he was very happy for the company.

George passed away in 2014 at the age of 83. I have a large print of the portrait I made of him in my living room, and I imagine him saying, in his colorful, playful way, "What are you doing, boy? Why aren't you working!" I bought his Hasselblad (made the year I was born) from his estate, and I use it whenever I get the chance.

He was a good guy, a real character, and I'm deeply grateful that our paths crossed.

Avan Patel 

Meet Budhabhai Mangalbhai Bhoi! The most selfless human i have ever met. He can neither hear or speak. 

He is been with our family working as a domestic servant since he was 16. He should be in his late 60's now. He does not remember his age or when he was born. He helped raise my father, he was a part of was my childhood too. He still serves and helps my Grandad (who is now 93). 

He lives at home, no expectations, no demands. Just keeps on working.


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