Tag Archives: photography

Thought #47. On selfies.

The self-portrait is not a latest craze. Art history, ancient and modern, gives comprehensive accounts of this genre as a common means of expression among artists. The question is what is the motivation, if any, for an artist to depict himself.

As an aficionado of photography, I have always been amazed at the power of images. Perhaps in pursuit of an aesthetic value, or maybe out of the need of expressing feelings; no wonder I ended up taking pictures of myself. But I hardly ever shared them with friends or family.

I feel like telling something with my photography and that may prevent my output from being much of a muchness. I would not have published my work unless I had been sure that each picture’s message came across as intended. I know full well that my work is not suitable for anyone, though. I am quite comfortable with detractors too.

Why did I take the picture above? Within those four edges I found a way to represent a question mark. But, deep inside I really wanted to spark, at least, criticism. I remember the remark that a photographer, whose work is a model for me, made when I first showed him this photo. He could have disapproved of the lack of compositional rules, the overuse of negative space (which refers to showing a lot of empty space), and many other technicalities. Instead, he said “I’m puzzled”. Bravo, I murmured to myself.

After that short remark, he told me that by hiding my mouth I was leaving the viewer totally clueless. Without any reference but a pair of eyes wide open, he was unable to tell whether I was laughing, making fun of him or simply scared.

Maybe this story leads the way and the reader will follow. When an opportunity of taking a selfie arouses, it is highly advisable to approach it with the willingness to tell something. People are jaded with meaningless imagery, you too.

Thought #9. Coming into your own.

I’ve always considered Cartier-Bresson’s photography awe-inspiring. Being a pioneer of Street Photography, he was the one who coined the term “decisive moment”. From then on, it has been broadly used when referring to the split second of inspiration when the photographer comes into his own. In his epoch photography was relatively a new art medium and most of the artists he was contemporary with looked down on photographers, considering the whole medium a fleeting craze, a pale imitation of the classic arts.

I clearly remember the first time I saw the picture of the cyclist, the staircase and the cobbled street. A mixture of patterns finely arranged to create a unique and special snapshot that could linger in my memory forever. And then it was the one of the man skipping a puddle. I became obsessed with lines and patterns, at times seeing the order in the chaos.

So it was little wonder that someday I would try my luck at street photography. It all began in 2012 when I bought a point-and-shoot camera and rushed into “the streets”.

At the outset, I was completely stumped by the mysteries of this art. Candidness is what sets a photograph apart and it’s quite intricate to take candid pictures when people, strangers in particular,  look at you dismissively. Impatience is not allowed. Learning to become unnoticed is the crux of the matter and it doesn’t happen overnight, this being a rather slow process.

Eventually, of course, the day comes when you become virtually invisible. It has nothing to do with the supernatural, don’t get me wrong. What happens is that you learn to anticipate what is going to happen and the camera suddenly makes an appearance during that split second I mentioned before.

Strangers become the cast, the streets are the canvas, the camera is the paintbrush and I am the invisible painter.

For the next 3 years I took nearly 50,000 pictures, discarded more than 40,000 and published nearly 900 on my Flickr account. This one was the only picture I took on 29 October, 2014. I was hanging around the city centre all the evening long, nothing worth to immortalise. Suddenly, just before nightfall, when I was going back home I stumbled across a grandmother. Still unable to comprehend why she was hiding her face, the child appeared in the doorway. I took two steps back, switched on the camera and everything just clicked into place.

Thought #8. Childhood.

Since the very instant we arrived at New Delhi’s airport I was overwhelmed with mixed feelings. I was fascinated by the display of hospitality so characteristic of these dwellers but at the same time, I knew I would have run into shocking scenes.

We were going to leave the hotel at the crack of dawn. I am not a morning person but that night I did not sleep a wink and decided to wander around the area. A flood of rickshaws ready to be pulled by skinny riders was the first reminder of how different life must be in India.

Being a child is not the same everywhere. My holiday in India, one of the biggest countries in the world, taught me a lesson. The harsh lifestyle that these human beings have to overcome every minute of their lives is miserable. Living in such conditions could undermine anyone.

Astonishingly enough, I have not seen so many children grinning from ear to ear in my whole life as I did in India. They probably have nothing but zest for life in their struggle to get by.

Later that day, I was pointing the camera through the window during the planned sightseeing in New Delhi when a little boy hidden behind a makeshift mask appeared. I had a split second to trigger the shutter. A red wall, a child, a kite.

Each time I look at this picture I see the kindness of a child that innocently helps me to keep those mixed feelings alive, forever.