Whenever I’m on a trip with my friends, I’m usually on the back of the pack. They always complain that I take too long to set up my camera and take a picture (Photographer’s Curse). What my friends fail to see is that I’m searching for a story to tell. I admit sometimes it takes a while.
Photography essentially means ‘Light Writing’. To be able to see the light, take in the scene and search for a story, Its both a gift and a curse. Because you can’t turn it off.
I feel sorry for my future Girlfriend.
1. A way to see the story in everything
As a photographer, I try to observe the little things that are happening around me.
Like the story of a chai walla in his pale white clothes and a red ragged towel on his shoulders, hurriedly walking by to deliver tea and snacks.
The story of a little girl who comes up to me to try and sell the small toys her family made, I can see hope in her eyes, hope that someone will buy it.
Almost always, good photographers are poets inside.
I took this image in while traveling on a bus in Delhi, It was a very cold morning and these kids are being taken to school on an almost broken Auto-Rickshaw, which might seem unimaginable to westerners, but apparently it’s pretty normal in Delhi.
If we pause and introspect, we can see that there is a story to be told in everything. And we are the story tellers. We can choose how to tell that story.
2. Connect Emotionally with a Situation
I don’t know if it’s because I’m an Introverted person or if I’m a photographer or both. I have developed a deep sense of empathy for my surroundings and the people I meet.
“Dont shoot what it looks like, Shoot what it feels like.” – David Alan Harvey
If you though only happy scenes make great pictures, then you are wrong. There is often more emotion in a sad picture than in a happy picture. This empathy enabled me to connect with my surroundings in a profound way and helped me portray how I feel with my images.Wherever you travel you’re not always presented with rosy picture perfect scenes, often times what you see is sad, lonely or in a deplorable state.
The photo is of a Royal Bengal Tiger, in the Trivandrum zoo. It kept pacing around in its small cell, occasionally stopping to look at the visitors there, who were mocking him with their attempt at a Tiger’s roar.
3. Have a great sense of wonder
A certain change happens inside you when you start to observe things. You begin to develop a sense of wonder. A curiosity for what lies ahead and beyond. That is when we become our younger selves again, like a Kid, excited about all the new things he gets to see.
You start to wonder about how all this came to be, what is the story behind that. Asking the big questions.
You get to sit there looking at a beautiful scene thinking about how the world came to be and how you arrived at that perfect slice of time. And your friends would be like, “what the hell are you looking at man!”
This view is from the Vivekananda Rock, overlooking the coastal town of Kanyakumari. I was lucky, the clouds were perfect and the view was incredible.
4. Learn to love the unexpected
There are many times I went to a place hoping to shoot a specific scene, like a waterfall, and came back with a beautiful shot of something entirely different, like a Flower, a Bird, or some people. you don’t always get what you want, but sometimes if you’re lucky, you come back with something amazing.
I took this shot near a waterfall, the light was not good at that time for the waterfall and I was standing there looking up and I saw this amazing view.
I hate Tourist attractions, not the attractions but the Tourists. Now I don’t go there hoping to take a shot just like the one I saw on the Internet. often the place is crowded, messy, and has lost its magnificence.
5. How much role luck plays
I have often traveled many hundreds of kilometers to photograph a destination only to find that the scene is not what I had in my mind, Bad light, Rain, No water in waterfalls. It’s painful, after having traveled so far and get no result for your work. But, it also swings the other way. Sometimes, you’re at the perfect place at the perfect time.
This view is from a plane window, I was traveling back home from Chennai. It was my first time on a plane, I was excited and the view was magnificent! I instantly fell in love with flying. I’ll never forget this moment in my life.
Life is simple, Memories are precious
When I first started traveling, I realized the sorry state of our country, there is poverty, famine, and violence in most places.
But there is also beauty in some of the most unexpected places.
Like a small tea shop, made of wood and rusty metal sheets, overlooking a ravine in Thekkady. Or the tiny two person wooden boats (vangchi), stitched together with cables in Allapuzha.
Every place has a unique persona to it, it makes you feel part of something much bigger than yourself.
Photography is a form of self-expression, It lets you keep a slice of time with you. So that you can keep the memories you hold dear.
“You don’t make a photograph
just with a camera. You bring to the
act of photography all the pictures
you have seen, the books you
have read, the music you have heard,
the people you have loved.”
– Ansel Adams
Unit next time.