Working Women of India 1.5

Working Women of India Series

Working Women of India Series

Today’s long overdue portrait in this series is of a lady who can be an inspiration to a lot of women in India who quit their jobs for family but miss being financially independent.  She left her well paying corporate job to spend more time with her daughter and family.  Starting her own business  meant she could be with her family 24 hrs a day and earn doing what she loves doing.  To cook!  She used her cooking skills to learn to bake cookies, cupcakes and cakes and what not.  Visit her FB page for more details and orders. She now successfully runs a business and has orders in queue.

Z's cupcakes

Z’s cupcakes

She also has a facebook page. Here’s a screenshot of the page the day it was created. The fans are growing by the hour.   Hope her story inspires some of you to use your skills and start your own businesses.

The above photo was taken with Canon 1100d @ f5.6, 1/200, ISO 100 with a flash on camera left and ambient light coming from a large window on the right.

Working the Scene

This day when I woke up with an urge to photograph something I found a little toy lying around.  I didn’t have any specific image in my mind but I thought I’ll just start and lets see where it leads me.  No one to claim the ownership of the bike I took it to my terrace and started playing around.

One of the first few shots

One of the first few shots

After a few shots which looked more like just ‘nice snaps’ I felt I needed to keep working the scene and get more out of it.  I had a feeling something nice was round the corner.   Some times when you’re starting to photograph a thing or even a person you take a good photo and it might look like a nice, sharp and well exposed photo but it’s nothing  more than a ‘nice snap’ in the beginning.  Don’t just accept it and move on.  Really that’s just the beginning. You shouldn’t rest on that ‘nice snap’ look.  Keep working until you know you are out of ideas, the model is giving you weird looks or have got the shot that makes you think ‘hmmm’.  You will know it when you get it.

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After making some ‘nice snaps’ I added some mystery/drama to the scene by cutting out a newspaper advertisement and pasting it in the background.  This made the scene look like the bike was in front of a movie poster on a street.  I thought this little addition made a huge difference from where I started and where I eventually had to stop.  I wanted to try another little addition but before I could work around that the rightful and have to say very rude owner of the bike showed up and halted the photoshoot.  My 2 years young nephew.  You can’t really argue with a 2 years young person  when he wants his bike back.  But I’m still glad I didn’t stop at the shot at the top and created this one which looks much much better.  It also became my most popular image on 500px.  It reached the ‘Popular’ section in terms of pulse.

Weekend Road-Trip Rajasthan

This weekend I went out on a road trip to Alwar, Rajasthan with my friends.  I only carried the Sony DSC H20 for photo purposes.  I didn’t carry my DSLR because this was a trip with friends and on my last visit here the dSLR stayed inside the bag the whole trip.  I thought I’d rather be cracking jokes with friends on such trip than think about a photo opportunity.  Also, I felt recently I’ve put myself under a lot of unneccesary pressure for making photos so I needed to give myself a break.  This also put a little healthy restrain on me and forced me to make pictures using a basic compact camera.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to have returned with a few keepers.

On this trip we visited Siliserh Lake in Alwar and then the Sariska Tiger Reserve.  We didn’t have a tiger sighting but it was still a trip to remember.  Overall the trip was amazing made awesome by great friends.  And refreshing after non-stop hectic schedules in office and personal lives.  All of us needed this one.

Below are some of those images from the trip that really stood out for me.    I’ll leave you with the photographs from this trip. Hope you enjoy.

Siliserh Lake, Alwar

Hotel Nirwana Palace

Siliserh Lake, Alwar

Siliserh Lake, Alwar

Conference on the road

Conference on the road

Alwar trip

Alwar trip

At Sariska Tiger Reserve

Sariska Tiger Reserve

Sariska Tiger Reserve

Alwar trip

Alwar trip

Alwar trip

Alwar trip

Toy Story

Last year my official leaves lapsed and I didn’t think it was worth it.  This time I decided no  matter what I will take time off every month even if I have to sit at home.  Well, that’s what I do most of the times on my earned leaves anyway but this year is going to be different!  I don’t want to announce this as a new year resolution.  My wife’s not home for a week.  You’d think I planned it? Not really but I don’t hate the timing either :p  Actually it’s boring here  without her.

Anyway, continuous search for something always leads to….something.  Today while I was using my room curtains as backdrop on another object this idea came to mind and I brought a special model from the ice age.  This little fella usually waves hello from the back of my car to fellow motorists.  In Delhi, every motorist can use some cheering up.  We badly need them while being on the road even though we’re known for our open hearts. It’s a different world on the Delhi roads though.

Shot with Canon 1100d

Shot with Canon 1100d

Back to the image.  Kept working the angle, the distance between the background and the toy.  Got this one that I thought was best among the rest.  I could use some light reflector here to fill in the shadows created by the fluorescent light coming from top right of the frame.  Talking about light reflector I will show you a great but cheap inexpensive way of creating your own light reflector when you don’t have anything handy.  It’s  not a permanent solution but it still works.

Be back soon. Take care.

Looking Back

When I began writing this post I titled it top ten 2013 but when I sat down to choose 10, well, lets just say I struggled.  So instead of sharing 10 photographs I’ll just share the images that I thought were my best work past year.  I’ve shared a bit of story about each image that hopefully gives a background as to why I made that image and why it’s here.  Take care.

1. I’ll start the list with a lovely portrait of my wife. The photo was taken using Samsung Galaxy phone camera. This one is my favorite from the year because of its classic portrait look and the black and white has added to that effect. I even got a print made but later when my mom and wife saw it I realized they weren’t seeing the art part of it. For them somehow it was funny…

Classic portrait

Classic portrait

2. Looking at this portrait you won’t believe she’s a labourer on the job. She carried herself with dignity on the job and grace.  Listening to her story I felt humbled and honoured when she allowed me to create some of her images.
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3. This image was taken at Rohtang Pass on my trip to Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India. This image is a favorite because it captured everything about the place at the time.  It tells ‘the story’ that as photographers we strive for.  The locals running tea stalls, horses in the background waiting for tourists, foggy day and cold weather.

Rohtang Pass.  Photo shot with Canon 1100D

Rohtang Pass. Photo shot with Canon 1100D

4. Another camera phone shot that became my favorite instantly. The image shows the relationship between a young father and his kids. They’re having fun and father being a father is happy letting them tear his hair apart with a smile eventhough they struggled to get a grip with those short hair.  Now I knew why he got the hair so short.

The best friend a kid can have.  Dad.  Shot with Samsung Galaxy S Duos

The best friend a kid can have. Dad. Shot with Samsung Galaxy S Duos

5.  In this photograph the kid is pedalling past me while I stand there practicing panning.  I’m blessed to have enthusiastic kids in my neighborhood.  They were happy to go back to the start position and cycle past me several times as I kept practicing the panning and find the right exposure.  I didn’t ask her to show the V sign but when she did that the image suddenly became cool.  Somehow showed girl power and I started thinking, the Powerpuff Girl!

Powerpuff girl. Shot with Canon 1100D, f 6.3, 1/30, ISO 100

Powerpuff girl. Shot with Canon 1100D, f 6.3, 1/30, ISO 100

6.  This is my favorite for one simple fact.  She’s my grandmother (mom’s mom).  Do I need any better reason than that?  But yes photographically this is one of my favorites because one, I got to make her portrait which I hadn’t expected I’d be able to do since she lived in the village and two, because of that smiling face and those age lines that define her face beautifully.  The last I visited her was about 10 years ago.  My fault I know.  She alongwith grandpa took on the 20 hrs Indian railway journey just to attend my wedding.  That was a blessing in itself.  And I truly feel grateful and embarrased (mostly ashamed) because I haven’t been able to go back in 10 years to see them.
Portraits

Photographs from the Workshop

Last week I had to bring my car to a workshop owned by my friend’s brother for minor work. I don’t carry my camera and I it didn’t struck me at that time there could be some opportunities here as well. It only struck later there’re possibilities there and so on my next visit I brought my camera along. I wasn’t highly hopefuly of getting many but I did come away with a few keepers that I’m going to share today and their stories.

Workshop

This photograph above was an obvious one at the workshop when you imagine a picture on the word workshop.  A man working on a machine.  I setup my camera and started exploring the place for possible gems and this was one of them.  Fortunately I hadn’t come with a previsualized image of the workshop so that allowed me to keep exploring the possibilities and continue with making more photographs.  At some point it was also frustrating because nothing was really exciting me.  But I kept telling myself it’s a process and something will come if I continue to work on it.

Workshop

Workshop

Workshop

The kid above kept me busy and was kind enough to pose for me whenever I asked him to.  Fortunately his boss didn’t mind either.  May be  because my friend was right there.  I tried a few other exposures but some how they didn’t work out the way I had hoped.  I saw a red car in a shade was attracting me but even after taking a few photos it just didn’t have the impact I was looking for. I even had this kid above work on the car to see if it changes the perspective but I failed to do justice to the scene.

Workshop

Workshop

When my friend and a camera are around together it’s almost impossible not to create some photographs of him.  In the first photograph above the light coming from the roof attracted me and so I had him stand right under it.  After a few photos and different angles this one looked more close to the photograph I wanted to make.  In the second photograph we were sitting in the tiny office waiting for our car and this moment captured the attention.  After a few more photographs this one stood out for me.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s photographs.  Be back soon.

How Musicians Can Inspire Photographers

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This is going to be a long post so grab your coffee or tea, sit back and let it sink in…This is an effort to relate the struggle of one artist with another belonging to different art forms.

Has it ever happened to you listening to a song and you feel so  moved by the song that you’re almost in tears. The thoughts, our state of mind and our mood at the time relate to the song and touches our hearts.  Something makes those songs that much powerful.  As photographers we too aim to do the same with our images.  Create something strong something so powerful that when someone looks at it they just have to stop and stare at it and be lost in that frame and become more curious.  It doesn’t necessarily has to create any particular kind of emotion.  It can make you laugh, think, or leave you even more curious wanting to know more.  If it does any of that the photo is successful.

So how can musicians inspire photographers?  If you watch them perform live you’ll notice how much effort they put into a song.  At the end you can see them exhausted mentally and physically.  Consider the effort and practice they put into making a song that truly connects with you.   Some times when you watch them perform such powerful songs you can see they are pouring their hearts out out there.

Style - There’s another notable difference in how their style changes for the same song when they’re performing it live compared to in the studio.   Notice how they try and leave their own impressions and add something unique to the same song when singing it live.  At the competitions they may be singing a popular song from a popular singer but the more talented ones try and make those songs their own by adding something unique to it.  Something that belongs to them.  Their own style.  Follow the same for creating photographs.  If you want to create a photograph from the photographer you admire try and ask yourself are you merely copying it or being inspired to do it in your own way so that it doesn’t look a copy.  Are  you adding your style? Ask yourself do you even have a style?

Technique – The whole reason why I wanted to write today’s post was to point you at something that might inspire you as photographers.  And it’s  not related to photography.  Sometimes when looking and observing photographs isn’t working for you, look beyond photography for inspirations.  Go to Youtube now and watch live performances of your favorite singers.  What is it that they do that touches us so deeply?  How do they do it?  Of course there’re so many techniques to be a great musicians and it takes so many hours of practicing the craft religiously.  Learning all the techniques are important so you don’t wonder why you’re not able to create the photograph you envisioned.  But learn the techniques and practice them so hard that they become your second nature.  So one day you can focus only on your vision and your second nature does all the calculations for you to make it a reality.  Practice. Practice.  And you will also be able to create something powerful.

Expression - When you do get to watch the song live performed by the artist you’ll notice the expressions singers or musicians show who seem to be in a state of trance when performing their songs.  As kids we’d mock them for having gone crazy.  But I realize now they’re not making up those expressions.  They’re so into the song and the expressions are just pouring out of them.  They can’t help it.  They are in the moment when performing.  Every little note.  There’s so much effort that goes into completing one song that touches the souls of listeners that you can almost feel emotions bursting out of the artist.

Impact – Before you can make someone move with your photograph you have to be moved yourself.  Ask yourself what is it about this photo or moment before you decide to capture it that attracted you.  While it’s important to really feel the moment before you can convey it to others well enough it’s also important to move out of it as quickly.  You don’t want to be hung up in the same moment for too long.  Move on.  Keep the water in the well of your creative juice fresh.

I may be all wrong about this whole stuff I blabbered above. But I had to do it.  I was so impressed by watching some of the singing competitions and the efforts put in by some of the singers that I couldn’t help but relate to their struggle.  And I thought it’d be worth sharing with you all as well.

Be back soon.

Men In Uniform 3.3

Men in Uniform series

Men in Uniform series

I did not create this photograph but I had to feature this man in this series.  The series Men In Uniform wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our most valued treasure in uniform, an army man.  It helped this man also happens to be my old friend from school days and he’s the only one whom I have managed to keep in touch since school.

He was in town for a few days of vacation and this was a perfect opportunity for me to create a portrait of him in his uniform.  He doesn’t carry his uniform when travelling back home for obvious reasons so I couldn’t get a chance to create a portrait myself but he did oblige me by bringing a photograph of himself in uniform.

Q. What is the best thing you love about your job?

A. The Uniform.  The respect I receive when I wear this uniform makes me feel it’s special.  When we’re passing by in a remote area in Arunachal Pradesh kids wave towards us when they see us in uniform.  When there’s a natural calamity we’re called out and the love we receive from civilians makes me feel special.  Something in that uniform makes people love us.

Q.  What is the worst thing about your job?

A. Unfortunately there are times when we commit some humane mistakes and the entire unit is punished.  There’s no room for error in Army.  There’s a lot of chaos sometimes in orders that confuses us and we don’t know what to expect.  Some times there’s so much hype and when we get to a place the situation is entirely different from what was told.  It can be very frustrating some times.

If you have been reading this series and the answers in the interview there’s one common theme in answers from each person.  Respect.  How often we judge people based on the jobs they do?  We some times look down on a person who’s working as a janitor just because we think it’s a small job.  And he might be doing that job honestly and doing it very well. We don’t know.  But we judge it.  In one of Shekhar Suman’s comedy shows a strong line that I can never forget helps me respect everyone’s job when I find myself guilty of looking down on someone’s job as small.  May be you can use it as a mantra too.  Shekhar Suman’s father told him Respect everyone because every person is good at at least one thing in doing it better than you can.   I hope I’ve put it exactly the way it was but I hope you get the idea.  Remember that and you’ll never find looking down at someone’s work as small.