Nat Geo Assignment: Keep Still

Nat Geo Assignment: Keep Still - Kristian Bertel
Indian cycle rickshaw has been submitted to ‘Keep Still’ on National Geographic.



See the National Geographic photo assignments that Kristian Bertel has participated in – Read the story about his photographs here…

Kristian Bertel has contributed to the Nat Geo Your Shot community with an assignment called ‘Keep Still‘. Curated by Kristen McNicholas, an associate photo editor at Nat Geo Your Shot, we should look for still life in our photographs.

A still life or still lifes is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which are either natural such as food, flowers, dead animals, plants, stones, shells and so on or man-made such as drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes and so on.

As Kristen is saying it: ”- In recent months, I’ve noticed an influx of still lifes being uploaded to Your Shot. This inspired me to run an assignment celebrating the art of still life photography. Constructing or finding a still life scene might seem easy, but all the same principles in light, composition and visual narrative apply. The first thing to know is that a still life typically depicts inanimate objects. The characters in your still lifes can be plants, food, objects around your home or items you have carried with you throughout your life”, she says.

Still life in photography
With origins in the Middle Ages and Ancient Greco-Roman art, still-life painting emerged as a distinct genre and professional specialization in Western painting by the late 16th century and has remained significant since then. One advantage of the still-life artform is that it allows an artist a lot of freedom to experiment with the arrangement of elements within a composition of a painting. Still life, as a particular genre, began with Netherlandish painting of the 16th and 17th centuries and the English term still life derives from the Dutch word ‘Stilleven’. Early still-life paintings, particularly before 1700, often contained religious and allegorical symbolism relating to the objects depicted. Later still-life works are produced with a variety of media and technology, such as found objects, photography, computer graphics, as well as video and sound.


”Seventeenth-century Dutch-style still lifes are a great place to start your visual research for this assignment. usually symbolic and images that rely on a multitude of still-life elements ostensibly to reproduce a ‘slice of life’, which intends to deceive the viewer into thinking the scene is real, is a specialized type of still life, usually showing inanimate and relatively flat objects”


About the submitted photograph
The photographer has been interested in portrait photography for a long time in India and for this assignment he has chosen to submit a photograph portraying an Indian man working as a cycle rickshaw wallah in Varanasi, India. As opposed to rickshaws pulled by a person on foot, cycle rickshaws are human-powered by pedaling. Another type of rickshaw is the auto rickshaw. They are a type of tricycle designed to carry passengers on a for-hire basis. Cycle rickshaws are widely used in major cities around the world, but most commonly in cities of South, Southeast and East Asia.

Staring eyes in India
There is something still in the position and the pose of the Indian rickshaw wallah in the picture and it seems staring is their favorite national pastime. It may not be easy to find an answer to this question. Indians generally are not that exposed to the world and their thoughts and experiences are limited to their immediate surroundings, so they often discuss about people around them and poke their nose into the affairs of others. Another reason is the population where everything including noise, chaotic traffic, crowded public transport, dirty cities and so on are tolerated.

”- Staring too is accepted as a way of their society. Indians simply do not realize how rude is to stare at someone or do not have the awareness to accept the racial, and cultural difference.Here men normally stare at women as if they never have seen such a species on earth before, I do not know whether there is male arrogance involved in this, but the reason could be sexual frustration and objectification of women, it is not just simple curiosity.”, the photographer Kristian Bertel says.


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Assignments and Stories — National Geographic Your Shot »
Light and Shadow – Photographing in India | Nat Geo »
Your Shot Photo Community — National Geographic »
Kristian Bertel’s entire gallery on Your Shot »
Showcase of Kristian Bertel’s Your Shot »
Kristian Bertel’s website »