It's been a while since the last post here. Much has happened since then. For starters the Bong has now set up camp in the National capital Region. New, job, new city and new faces. Much to explore and experience. For those of you unaware, the National Capital Region is made of New Delhi and a number of satellite towns/cities like Noida (Gautam Buddh Nagar), Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad etc. The prime attraction is of course Delhi (or New Delhi), with landmark architectures of artistic and historic importance, like the Red Fort (Qila-i-Mubarak), Purana Qila (Old Fort), Jama Masjid, Hauz Khas, Humayun's Tomb and numerous such structures strewn across the city.
Photowalks, in my opinion have a therapeutic quality. I find it quite helpful in escaping the rush of the regular life. For a few hours, I’m an observer, a passive participant to the rush of Life. Sometimes, a walk may not yield a single photo, sometimes it may give you moments worth remembering all your life. I have been known not to take photos for entire photowalks, simply because I didn’t feel like it. While there are times when I have run out of memory cards. Needless to say, my personal approach is more of a stroll where photos just happen, if they have to happen, purely driven by the moment.
Having recently volunteered as an Administrator for the photowalk group Kolkata Photowalking, I was forced to look back at my experience. Short as it may be, I discovered that I always came back with some fine memory from almost every photowalk. And a few practical lessons over time. As a photowalk organiser I have been asked about the kind of gear that one should bring to a photowalk. Even though I wrote a Guide to Photowalks sometime ago, based on my lessons I decided to make my list.
While working on the next post, I was reminded of this personal favourite of mine from a couple of months ago. I thought I would share it with a small look into why the I like this shot.
This shot was taken somewhere in the Burrabazaar neighbourhood of Calcutta during an early morning photowalk. Although purely a result of coincidences, I personally love it due to the political undertones that this shot has. It is open to interpretation. E.g. some may attribute the crumbling facade of the building towards the overall state of affair in West Bengal. Notice how the rule of thirds apply along the man, the cart and the flag post.
Life in Calcutta presents a myriad of options for an urban explorer. While history will be the common thread, the point of view will be different. One could explore based on architecture, transport, historical acts, arts etc. A recent event in the city “Explore Calcutta” chalked out several such exploration routes for the enthusiast. The event was in memory of Jane Jacobs, known internationally as Jane’s Walk. One such route took explorers along the history of theatre in Calcutta. Starting with the Jorasanko Thakurbari and ending at the Shovabazar Rajbari, the walk presented the history of theatre in 19th century Kolkata.
The walk started from Jorasanko Thakurbari, just off Chitpur Road (nearest metro station: Girish Park). The erstwhile residence of Rabindranath Tagore, houses the Rabindra Bharati University and Museum. Theatre here started in 1869 and was mostly a private affair. The “Thakurdalan” has been the stage of many a landmark plays of Bengal Renaissance Era.
… Without trying what I have to tell you. I know this is another list, and perhaps one that could incite a few moans and groans at the onset. However, this is different. I honestly do not wish to tell you what just about every guidebook has already screamed aloud, or what every most travel bloggers have already told you. Honestly, read enough of them and the “lists” could start chasing each other in your head and leave you all confused. Oddly enough, it was while compiling a “list” for my sister, who is going to visit London in a few weeks, that I came upon this little set of things, which I believe, should feature on a visitor’s list.
So, without wasting much time I’ll plough ahead.
Photowalkers in action
With the increased availability of digital cameras of all shapes and sizes, photowalking has become a regular activity for most photo-enthusiasts. So much so, that beyond personal sojourns, there are camera/photography clubs for the sole activity of photowalking. The popularity of this rather social activity is on the rise. For the uninitiated, the most pertinent question would be “What is photowalking?”
What is Photowalking?
At the onset, I must mention the following are entirely my understanding or views on the matter, and is not a norm followed or believed by photographers. The reasons hopefully would be obvious enough if you would care to soldier through.
For the sake of defining it, one might say Street Photography is a still documentary of our times - life as we know it or see it. For many it is a mirror to the society, while for some it is a reflection of the photographer’s thoughts, portrayed through the events of real life. However there is no fixed definition. It is open to interpretation, open to experimentation. In the course of time, I have been asked a number of times about the ethics of it all. Street photography is invasive, doesn't matter if you took the shot from across the river or sitting next to your subject. You did capture a private moment. Its voyeuristic some may argue.
The question arises, where do you draw the line? When do you say, that could be a great shot but am not going to capture it. I do follow a few things. For lack of a better term, I am settling for etiquette. The basic principle that I follow is to avoid face shots as much as I can. That does take away a lot of the personal/intimate touch from the shots, but it allows me to focus on other things. Also, do remember that this is street photography and not photojournalism. There is a difference. And that difference means certain things are not acceptable to the SP community. The thing you'll hear everywhere is:
"If people don't want to be photographed, you do not photograph them."
This being the first post in this blog, I couldn’t resist taking a cue from the very first program in C. While this isn’t my first blog, it arguable is my first in a few years. In my earlier stints, I have blogged for Imperial College London while I was a student there and wrote the blog “Thoughts of a Confused Mind”. The latter having been reduced to a ghost blog over the past few years.
Why the new blog one might ask. The reason is simple. It’s been a few years since “Thoughts of Confused Mind”, Much has happened since then. As a result, I’m a different person now (I think). This blog will reflect on my love for photography, food, travel, London, Calcutta (Kolkata) and my thoughts on certain matters as and when they present themselves.
A disclaimer though, the blog has nothing to do with the device “Bong”, but is a play on Bong, a modern slang for Bengali people. Bong as a Bengali has been covered in numerous posts in blogsville over the years, hence I will not harp on it.
So, without much ado I shall take your leave now and hope to see you around. Au revoir!