More streets of Mumbai in colour

I wrote this a while ago and obviously forgot to post it.  Rediscovering it a few months later in my draft posts I decided to publish it anyway:

“We as street photographers try so hard to get that unique composition with multiple layers and dramatic lighting and we sometimes are rewarded with a great looking image, a work of art.  But too often we overlook the most important (to me) aspect of a street photograph vis-à-vis the story in the moment.  Even though there may be a story, it is often overridden by the complexity of the aesthetic elements that make up an image.

I have been trying my hand at colour lately and I am slowly getting the hang of it.  But it was getting pretty exhausting because when shooting the streets I was forcing myself to create those aesthetically perfect images with several layers, perfect lighting and complimentary colours.  This put a lot of pressure on me and I felt the fun and spontaneity of street photography was slowly fading.

Dynamic colours and compositions, multi-layers, dramatic lighting etc. are tried and tested ways for talented photographers to showcase their artistic style.  But for me, now, I reached a point where it had to go beyond that.  And to go beyond that I knew I had to simplify.  I now want to shoot moments on the street exactly as I saw them and exactly as most people would have seen them, had they noticed them.  I want to just use a moment to connect to the subject and capture the raw emotion, be it funny or poignant, which occurs in everyday life. These moments occur everywhere and not often with interesting backgrounds or juxtapositions.  But if the moment or the story is strong enough it should upstage the other stuff.

I know this kind of imagery would run the risk of being considered the antithesis of serious, artistic photography.   It could even be relegated to snapshot photography.  But no one will be able to deny that it is honest and real.  And the challenge is in stirring an emotion in your viewer while being as straightforward and honest as you can.  No pretentions; no gimmicks.  What I saw is what you see, in that instant.

I want to capture moments rather than create them.  While it sounds like it might be a step down, I actually think it is a lot more challenging.  It is like photography without exaggeration.

This is not to say that my images will never have good aesthetics.  My eye has been trained to see a certain way and I am naturally drawn to these aesthetics.  But even if aesthetically pleasing elements are present, I hope they will not drive my images.  I want the content to jump out first.  Everyone always says less is more – this is my take on it.

This is how I feel today.  It may be a phase or it may be permanent – who knows right?   As clichéd as it sounds, you just have to follow your heart. That is the ‘simple’ truth :)”

While I still believe most of what I wrote, I am not sure how much I acted upon those beliefs.  I have tried to simplify at some level and I have also been trying to get inspired again – inspired to go out and shoot everyday like I used to when I first discovered street photography.   I am also trying to simplify by selling off most of my gear.  Here is a list of items that I will probably put up for sale soon.

Cameras coming up for sale:

Black Leica M6 TTL .72x with 35mm summicron ver. 4 with hood (canada)

Canon EOS 5 film SLR

Panasonic Lumix LX3 (awesome little digital camera with which I have taken some of my most popular images)

Olympus 35RC film rangefinder

About 20-30 rolls of tri-x film

Prices will be referenced with those listed on ebay and keh (most popular used camera stores in the US).

Anyway, here are some images shot with a variety of film cameras:)

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6 thoughts on “More streets of Mumbai in colour

  1. “I want to capture moments rather than create them … This is not to say that my images will never have good aesthetics. My eye has been trained to see a certain way and I am naturally drawn to these aesthetics.” I do follow you with this. May I call it moment based style of SP? I recently thought about it as well. I’m a hunter for situations too. This means: Walking, walking, walking, observing, observing, observing to catch a moment, that would be lost without us seeing and capturing it. But on the other hand there are so many Street Photographers defining themselfs in a line with a documentary style. They work with an idea of a problem to realize it. Some of them in the manner of critizise social problems. They get close to journalism. If you look at history this are strong roots auf SP. That’s why it’s so interesting to read your suggestion to treat SP more moment based (and less idea based?). It comes closer to art this way, does it?

  2. Many of these photos are a lot easier to digest due to the approach you’re heading. Fun to see your stuff with another mentality.

    As for myself I only own two cameras: One main, one casual and my phone can be a super casual gear. Too much gear, bodies and lens would really be a distraction for amateurs. Even two cameras are little too much, i still managed to keep it under control. It’s quite a move for you to sell the listed gear.

  3. Kaushal, some of these images I can make an immediate connection to, some not. Others may have similar thoughts but select different images. I have come to the conclusion that I am not cut out for street photography. In future it will be a relaxation for me rather than the slog it has become. I have a lot more gear that sits unused but I tend to reach for the same cameras each time, depending on the genre. Everybody goes through these patches where inspiration eludes us and maybe simplification will help. If you are shooting for yourself, then it doesn’t really matter what sparks you to take the frame. If you are shooting to sell or to order, it is a lot different. I hope you get the fun back and looking at some of these it doesn’t seem to me that you are far away. The following images made the immediate connection for me: 2, 3, 6, 8 & 10.

  4. Love these! I’m traveling to India in early 2014 and would love to meet up for a day or so and shoot with you!

  5. I’ve never really understood modern day street photographers that go out and wait in a certain place to photograph. Personally I find that those kinds of photos lack authenticity. Isn’t it much better to go out on the streets, enjoy life and shoot whatever comes your way or passes you by?

    Great images as usual.

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