Archive for April, 2018

Puffing at a cigarette dangling from his thin lips, the man appeared to crawl on his rickety legs on the pavement; threading his path through the people. A swarthy complexion with worried look on his wrinkly face, few wisps of hair falling from sides of a bald shiny pate, belly bulging over the belt of trousers, holding a bag in one hand while the other arm was swaying with an irregular rhythm. He seemed to be inching towards the other side of horizon.
It was a cloudy morning in early April, with a nip in the air when I spotted this man while going on towards my job.
For a flash of second, the look of this mysterious man gripped my attention. Oblivious of his surroundings he seemed to be move toward where ever he was supposed to be. His weather-beaten appearance suggested a life spent in unending misery, unable to indulge in any luxury. After spending a whole day in some drab job, he would go back, exhausted, maybe indulge in some sex to relieve his daily fatigue and then drop on the bed for a fitful sleep in order to rise again early next morning for another insipid day of his life.
For some unknown reason, he seemed to be the very anthesis of all those notions about nobility of human race and of any higher purpose of life.
On looking at other faces shuffling along the road, it appeared that everyone had the same anxious look of carrying the cross of their apparently meaningless existence.
In that moment it seemed the whole humanity is nothing but a farce and all those lectures of morality, religion and philosophy are nothing but attempts to embellish for what is a pure animal instinct to survive and procreate; at least for billions of people struggling to keep them afloat above the line of poverty.
Then suddenly I realized that I myself was doing the same thing and for them I too, might appear like another insignificant creature on the surface of this earth. Horrified, I tried to look away but the feeling was too strong and for some quite some time, I felt a creep, an eerie chill going down the spine.
A moment of translucency when everything appears absurd. All the sermons of moralists when they preach of some grand design in this universe seemed gibberish, a nonsense talk of those who themselves are as ignorant of this universe as their followers are. They just keep on repeating what they heard from someone else like them.
Was it a moment of truth?
It is a typical scene of a metropolis, a mass of homo sapiens on a daily routine of trudging along to earn two square meals of a day, by all means fair and foul; to get the maximum in the shortest possible time, cheating, fighting, deceiving and gnawing at each other’s in this rate race. All doing the same things throughout their life, without knowing why.
Generations have perished after living the same termite life while many more would come to follow the same path, groping along in darkness from cradle to crater; ultimately stepping out of the way for the next generation of their species to do the same in their own life.
Is there really a sense in this drama of life or all these talks of a higher spiritual realm are mere attempts to glorify this humdrum existence. Despite all those religions, philosophy, art and science, the fact remains that primarily we live by physical instincts like all animals and by doing so rapidly destroying our own resources, destroying all other species while at the same time making this earth inhabitable for our own survival. Billions are perishing due to hunger, disease and natural calamities while a tiny minority wallowing in pure physical pleasures.
Artistic and aesthetic pursuits seem a luxury of lucky few who have spare time and extra money to afford. For the rest of human race, life is a continuous drudgery sprinkled with isolated moments of sensual experiences.
Is there really a method in this madness? Was it a moment of truth?
Did the Jean-Paul Sartre had the same experience when he said “Man is a useless passion. It is meaningless that we live and it is meaningless that we die.”

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Street photography is to capture the life around us in all its details. Sometimes the details might be unpleasant harsh facts of life, highlighting the marginalized sections of society, something on which people might not like to talk about. What should be the role of an artist? To hide, or to project a serious social or cultural issue. Exposure might be against something which a particular community does not want to accept publicly.
The exposure of such issues may bring serious criticism.
What should be the approach of an artist in documentary photography? To always strive to project a positive rosy picture or to use the art faithfully even if brings out unpalatable truths?”

The approach of a documentary photographer should be truthful no matter the consequences,otherwise it ends up being fiction. This is my opinion to your question 🙂
Edit: I thought the question was about documentary photographers… As a normal photographer you can do whatever you want, I suppose.

Photographers do what they do for their own unique reasons, and what will be right for one person will be wrong for another. In my own photos, I tell the truth, but I don’t particularly seek out the ugly or difficult side of the truth. Others will feel compelled to explore that dimension of the world.

My personal mantra is that the number one rule in art is that there are no rules. You make them up as you go or you follow established paths and add something new to them. Any one piece of art will never please or inspire everyone and may even upset some. That is the nature of art and creativity. I’ve had people tell me my drawings are beautiful and others tell me the same drawing is disgusting. All in the eye of the beholder, I suppose but we should let their eyes see what they will

I think that each photographer, before developing an approach, should ask himself what he wants to represent and for what purpose. I’m not a professional, just an enthusiast, but I think that for documentary photography there is no choice: to represent reality, to tell the truth. Truth is the ultimate goal of every single shot.
It is in the tale of the reality that every single photographer chooses his personal approach: one can represent the good moments of life in a cheerful and lively way or in a critical way; one can represent unpleasant realities with a detached look, as a witness, or with hope in the lenses or underlining the drama of the moment and so on.
The approach, the perspective, is what makes each photographer unique and even before that is what distinguishes those who simply take photos from those who are photographers.
But the purpose is indisputable: to tell the truth, always 🙂
I would think being a documentary photographer is different than artist. The documentary photographer photographs what is. The artist tries to use their vision to create an idea or capture a mood.

The artist might use monochrome, or try to capture shadows or be a a spot they want someone to walk through. There is a style to it that documentary work will likely be different.

Of course I am also a Landscape photographer so I might be way off the mark.

I use street photography as an active exploration tool. Sometimes that means wandering and shooting what I come across. Sometimes I am actively seeking images or promoting a cause through shooting an event. Either way, I let observation lead me to whatever is happening on the street. Most of the time I take the shot and decide later whether to share it through social media. There have been times where a scene is gruesome and I have chosen not to capture. I generally avoid capturing homeless people. I’ve also seen some amazing work where the photographer focuses on street life in LA.

I don’t claim to have a right or wrong answer. Years ago, I read countless threads on the philosophy of street photography. Each photographer has to find their balance point. I’m glad the question is still being asked

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