But all this seems distant on the short drive along double-barrelled Basai Road, which makes its way through the villages of Dhankot and Chandu and past Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, undulating through multi-coloured fields of mustard, wheat and marigolds. The drive is a pleasure; the road is in good condition and lined with fruit sellers peddling seasonal wares right from the orchards. Farmland lines the road, retreating into gentle hillocks that mark the beginning of the Aravalli Hills. Farrukhnagar appears in a traffic jam of lorries, buses and cycles resembling most small Indian towns until one reaches the old quarter with its distinctive Mughal architecture.
A photographer is someone who gets his feet dirty out there in the field. He is not a wheeler-dealer in pin-strips selling images in sanitized boardrooms. At least that’s not what most of us signed up for. This is why I think Photo Stock agencies are a bane to photography and photographers. But alas, they are here to stay.
Change is welcome but this is just another example of cultural homogenization where one day everything looks the same (read American). We have seen this in architecture ( steel and glass replacing our own Indian motifs). Indian weddings are a completely different beast from the staid, solemn weddings you have in the West. So if weddings are shot in a different way in India it is just as well.
It will be a pity indeed if one day the studiowallas, who not only understood all the nuances of Indian weddings and who added so much mirth and humor to them , one day became ‘invisible’ .
Celebrated Indian Photographer Raghu Rai has often said that newspaper and magazine editors are visually illiterate. He should know. Rai spent much of his photography career working for newspapers and magazines. I started my career as a journalist too and never understood the importance of photography in a paper. I especially did not understand why my newspaper would spend so much money sending a photographer with me on travel assignments. He just has to press the button I thought.
Does photography make you see more – as is popularly believed – or does it sometimes make you wear blinkers to the world around you? Photography of course should make you see and absorb more and this is what we all believe but I think it can do just the opposite. I feel photographers are so busy with the visual assimilation of what is at hand that they don’t (and perhaps can’t) care much about what it is they are photographing. They are not so much interested in understanding the subject as they are in `capturing’ it.
The IIT campus where the workshop was held began to swarm with a wide smorgasbord of people- students, photographers, hobbyists, parents of students, housewives, few foreigners and general hanger ons like yours truly. By the time the ace photographer arrived the classroom was busting at the seams. People had to squat on the floor and many just stood at the end of the classroom as there was just no space in the room.
If you were getting married in India five years ago chances are you would be resigned to the wedding photographer bullying you into awkward poses with your spouse on the wedding day.Today you just hire a `candid’ wedding photographer’. He does his job discreetly and you are left to enjoy your wedding. In less than five years there has been a sea change in how Indians want to get photographed in their wedding.
Though the younger generation of orchardist are all well educated , deep rooted tradition beliefs prevail over commonsensical environmental awareness. They would rather slaughter a goat to the local Gods for good weather than plant trees in their depleting forests.
Every assignment brings its own challenges. The trick is to satisfy the client who hires you without compromising on what you think are good pictures. As a photojournalist I am mostly photographing strangers. The challenge for me is to make them open up to me so I can get a unique perspective to their lives.
Most of us have a filmy notion of street-muggings. Its more Hollywood than Bollywood. You are walking down a dark-alley when hooded hoodlums waylay you. They brandish a knife or a gun and say stuff like ‘’Your money or your life’’.
But when I was mugged in Tanzania , two years ago, it took me a while to get my bearings to realize I had been mugged. It happened so fast.