The Painting on the Wall

~Experiences of a student photographer in India who loves to
photograph people and the walls behind them~

~Photography and Me~ “Photography is like oil painting, except of course, you’re painting with light. Imagine your camera is your easel, the fi lm your canvas, your lenses your
brushes, and the light your  paint. The light comes in all types of colors and quality. Even if you have crappy paint, you can still paint a beautiful picture.

The same is true for the easel. A perfectly-designed super expensive easel, though cool, won’t make the picture look any better than if it was on your lap, it’s just easier. The canvas is important – you can make a beautiful picture on newspaper, but it won’t last long and it probably won’t look right. And fi nally, van Gogh didn’t use a 3” brush from to paint his sunfl owers!  You need a variety of quality brushes, each for its own type of line or stroke. And if you can’t afford a lot, rather than many bad brushes, you’ll be better off with one good brush that will force you to make do and concentrate on the basics. Why do all artists start with just a pencil and paper? Finally, always keep in mind that experience and practice can never be replaced by equipment – and some of the greatest photographers in the world, even in the modern day, take one old trusty camera and a 35mm/50mm lens to an assignment.” I read the above paragraph when I was about to leave painting and was looking for an alternative where I could vent out my creative energy. It was a long affair with painting; almost twelve years. But I was spending lesser and lesser time with my paints and brushes. I decided I needed something better in life and photography had to be it! I liked seeing people and places around me and I had always wanted to paint them. Now I would photograph them. I have always looked at photography as a substitute to painting in water color or oil. I am primarily interested in “shooting” colour and composition while “postprocessing” is secondary. My first camera, a Nikon FE10, was bought in 2000.

But after I lost it in 2003, I decided to wait and go the digital way. Sometime later, I picked up a Nikon D70 and have never regretted. ~Photography and the Indian Streets~ India is not exactly the land of snake charmers and tight-rope walkers. It has its own share of busy urban streets, high rise buildings, Mercs, trains, traffic and pollution. But yes, India is  indeed a colourful place.
The word Exotic could be close, but I think organic is how I would like describe her. You always see beautiful moments, colours that you would love to capture. Carrying a huge camera around your neck here will evoke different responses in the people around you. If you are an Indian, most of them will assume that you are a press photographer. The curious souls will come up to you and ask, “Which newspaper?” And if you are not an Indian, then they will take you for a tourist. Some will smile at you and some will shy away. Only rarely will someone kick up a fuss about being clicked. Nevertheless, they all become conscious of being clicked and will give up all that they were doing. While shooting on streets, I have learnt a few tricks here. Either capture your subjects without warning them (its OK, nobody seems to mind). Or hang around and wait till they forget you are guy with the camera. Waiting and watching has advantages of its own. Just sit down there, have
a chat, and casually click. I did this with many of my photographs and it worked. Plus, now I know the story of my subjects better which makes it all the more special for me.

~The Paintings on the Wall~ In this article, I have presented a set of photos which are environmental portraitures. What’s interesting and common in all these pictures are not
the subjects themselves, but the walls and textures behind them. The vibrant colours, patterns and textures make the streets look as alive as the subjects in front. Sometimes, streets are the best canvases painted. In all these street photos, I have either shot the subjects immediately without warning them, or waited with them till they forgot I was taking a picture of them. For instance, I was once strolling in the streets of Hyderabad when I noticed this kid on bicycle. Without making myself prominent, I unassumingly
came close to him and started composing my shot. And just before I clicked, he
looked up and gave me a smile (sort of). But as soon as the other kids noticed I was taking a picture, they all ran up to the spot and started posing – their faces beaming. I love both these pictures. But had I not been discrete, I would never have got the first picture. While in most other pictures, noticeably the photos with old men in them, I informed them that I wanted to take a picture. And just stood there till they forgot me and got along with their work. Sometimes, I would talk to them. And this would make us both comfortable. Just one word of caution – Be careful when you are photographing women in India. You never know when they find it offensive and you end up in trouble 🙂

~Photography and Photoblogging~ A lot of pro photographers have never heard of photoblogs. And almost all photobloggers are amateur photographers. So will the pros ever blog? And will bloggers turn pro? Well, I will leave this debate to the forums. All I can say
about Photoblogging is that it instills a discipline in you to go out and shoot. And if and when you do that, the feedback is amazing! Without Photoblogging, photography to me would  have just remained another hobby … not a passion.



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