Saturday 12 August 2023

Image(s) 12: An Hourglass Cast in Stone

Old building on a busy street corner in India.

Old building on a busy street corner in India.

Buildings, especially those built with care and caution, retain the power to move the spirit. They are decanters of a sublime potion potent enough to transport one to a different era. They, like artifacts and antiques, possess a timeless quality. The more distant and historic a building is, the more it radiates the timeless quality that can remove one from their immediate surroundings or conditions of life: a building, like an artifact or antique, propels the imagination and enables one to experience past and present simultaneously. 

There are a number of buildings that stand erect despite the violence done by man and the elements. These stalwart and silent witnesses of history can be seen on an indifferent street corner, sometimes inviting curious glances or a studied gaze but mostly remain unnoticed. They are like chapters of history that are not always pleasant to read but provide essential clues to the puzzle of life in an era long consigned to oblivion. It's interesting that no matter how incongruous or conspicuous their presence is, they preserve a quality to adapt according to the prevalent tastes. In a way, they both belong and don't belong to the current time but that's exactly what makes them significant - much like a genius, who finds themselves at once alien and native to the society. Perhaps this dichotomy is what makes old buildings charming and timeless.

Friday 4 August 2023

Image 11: That is No Country for Old Men

 An India old Sikh man with plesant face and deep eyes.

Old age is indeed a challenging period of one's life. The elderly find themselves removed from the contemporary fashions and attitudes, which for most of them are newfangled ideals of a decadent society. Although one might blame them for being conservative, the social changes and technological advances haven't exactly been favourable to them. The rise of nuclear families, for example, has pushed the elderly to the margins. In addition, the modern hectic schedules have surreptitiously severed them from their families. Perhaps there are those too who are better equipped to cope with these changes and willingly adapt to the rapidly changing social environment. 
I came across this old man by chance. As soon as he noticed my camera, he started talking to me. He spoke to me about many things, asked me questions and told me about himself. He was interested in the pictures and seemed curious about my camera. I couldn't resist asking him for a photograph. 

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Image 10: Gardner on a Particulary Overcast Day

 Gardner riding a bicyle on a rainy day. Fields in the background. Rainy season. Monsson. India.

The area where I currently reside has witnessed torrential rain: the record-breaking rain has been pouring relentlessly for the past ten days or so, resulting in utter chaos and flash floods. It seems there's no respite in the days ahead. It's alarming how unpredictable the weather is nowadays.

Thursday 30 March 2023

Image 09: Carrying a Ladder

Man in street. A labourer working hard, carrying a ladder in streets of India.

Reading is an activity that I derive a lot of pleasure from: it is more than just a hobby for me. I try to find parallels between reading and street photography. Although reading and street photography are different, I believe there are traits that are common to both. 

Reading has taught me how to observe the world around me. It has helped in slowing down the rapidly moving world of phenomena, for example. As a result of reading, I have started observing things that I erstwhile ignored. In short, it has made me more attentive and conscious. I find street photography too has done the same to me. I sometimes view street as a place where people, objects (natural and artificial) and events emerge like words, phrases and sentences. Meaning appears when they form a harmonious (or disharmonious) relationship. The text or script is constantly getting written and rewritten. Hence, one has to remain alert to the always shifting and evolving street-text. 

Not only that, street photography can teach empathy too. It allows a person to step outside the confines of his or her personality. I suppose that's what Eliot said in his famous essay "Tradition and Individual Talent". So, there are connections between street photography (perhaps all types of photography) and literature. 

This picture was made quite recently. I saw this man on the street. He was carrying a ladder and immediately caught my attention. Again, it is a photograph of one person who is engaged in a task. This is becoming a recurring theme in my work, I suppose.

Friday 24 March 2023

Image 08: Man in His Frugal Abode

Man. Sitting inside house. India. Streets.  

It was nearly a decade ago when I first encountered the paintings of Rembrandt. They immediately appealed to me: I found his paintings lifelike and full of warmth. It's a small wonder that he's considered a master. In some of his paintings, Rembrandt showed solitary figures sitting or contemplating which left a strong impression on me. A case in point is his painting entitled "Philosopher in Meditation". It's, undoubtedly, one of my favourite paintings.  
I must say that I am not comparing myself to the consummate genius that was Rembrandt. I am only alluding to the subconscious process which, I discovered, might have been active behind this picture. 

This man was sitting in what seemed like his house or workplace. He was engrossed in his smartphone, oblivious to everything around him. The place and the lack of light in the background created a solemn mood that drew me in. His sombre figure against that dilapidated house was another thing that grabbed my attention. 

Thursday 12 January 2023

Image 07: Loading Bamboo onto a Vehicle

 Street.  India. People loading bamboos.

While walking down the street, I saw these people trying to load bamboo onto a vehicle. In the winters the markets usually open late. They get busier around afternoon. There were a lot of people in the market. Perhaps due to the harvesting festival which is to be celebrated tomorrow. 

These men were struggling. The traffic was blocked. There were a number of motorbikes impatiently waiting for it to clear, while the pedestrians kept finding ways to navigate the busy street. There is so much that takes place in places like this. It is where everything is in flux. One can never run out of subjects or moments worth documenting. 

Thursday 22 December 2022

Image 06: The Motif of Journey

 Two people walking. Railway station. Train is leaving. Cinematic. Story-telling.

Journey has been one of the time-tested and celebrated motifs in the arts and literature. We are delighted by journeys whether it is Odysseus’s return journey or the creative journey of an artist such as shown in Amadeus. There is something magical, captivating about journey that fills us with joy.

Not all the journeys are pleasant though. They can be extremely challenging: it is not always easy to let go of the past, the people and the things that you once held dear. Despite the many challenges involved,  journey has the potential to be a transformative experience it can leave an indelible impression on one’s mind. 

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Image 05: The Advent of Winter

 Old man. Street Vendor. Night. Streets of India.

It's nearly winter in the northern parts of India. Last Saturday was the first foggy morning of the year. In winters, many street vendors sell peanuts which are usually served hot. The peanuts taste much better when served hot, and eating them takes the from of favourite pastime. 

The trade is seasonal: you won't find these vendors in summers. It continues till the advent of Spring and a little after that, when the weather slowly changes its complexion and mercury embarks on its ascension.

Saturday 19 November 2022

Image 04: A Street Vendor

A boy, street vendor, sitting by the side of a road, talking on the phone. A cow stands next to him.

I saw this street vendor by the side of a road. Not only is the trade difficult, it is quite a lonely one too. The long hours are not always buzzing with activity and the countless iterations of doing the job daily must inevitably result in ennui. However, smartphones are rapidly becoming a common medium to idle away the otherwise empty and stagnated moments.  

By the way, I've started feeling that gestures convey vital information about a person's being. It seems to me that people's postures reveal behavioural traits that remain obscure, buried deep in the unconscious and unreachable recesses of one's being. Gestures are a coded script that hint at something significant about a person. 

Monday 7 November 2022

Image 03: Woman in a Vegetable Market

Woman in a vegetable market of India. Street photography. India. Black and White.
I spotted this woman deeply occupied in her work at a vegetable market. The vegetable market is a site that draws a lot of migrant workers. It is a part of the town that's seldom without activity: you can witness a sea of people buying and selling produce. The whole market is a giant and raw fugue of voices. 

It was within this swirling waves of voices I saw this lady working on a sackful of round, white garlic bulbs. She wasn't bothered by the usual hustle and bustle of the market — she was impervious to it all. Her silent gaze was stable and fixed. Her experienced fingers moved with skill and precision.