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Scenario : You shoot multiple frames, you spend time agonizing over which image makes it to the edit – one out of hundreds, you spend hours on the post-production, you agonize over what category of your portfolio the image will fit in, you take a deep breath & you publish the image.

You find you are always disappointed. Your sense of achievement & fulfilment is dulled the moment you receive feedback. Feedback, today, is instant due to platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr & blogs. Today, everyone is a photographer. Everyone has an opinion & there’s a race on to be the first… somewhere, anywhere.

If you were trying to impress your audience, 90% will be impressed. Will swoon over the image you just posted, will ooooh and aaaah over it. The remaining will, for the sake of being different from the 90%, try to be critical of the image, your process, your composition, your editing… something, anything. You will be dissatisfied with the former because it does not add value to you personally, it does not help growth. You will be dissatisfied with the latter because you’ve seen similar public feedback by the same people on others’ images.

If you were trying to impress another photographer because they are someone you admire, someone senior you want to work with or a good looking photographer you want to shoot with, you are opening yourself up to even bigger disappointment. The other photographer will comment, if at all, from his / her personal style and point of view & even the most genuine & well-meaning folks can get caustic & overly critical.

You’re absolutely safe if you’re trying to impress your Mom because she loves everything you do despite your over the top Photoshopping of her wrinkles.

The best thing would be to try and impress your own self. Are the results better than before? Have you captured a unique angle? Was the light awesome? Did the composition make you smile? Do the colors make you feel love? Do you like the image? Did you learn anything when you shot / sorted / edited / went through feedback for this image?

Don’t immerse yourself in what others have to say. Listen to people who have some credibility in your own eyes, pay attention. But never allow anyone else to dictate who you are.

If your photographs do not reflect who you are, you’re not doing it right, you’re not being true to yourself, you’re living a lie.

The next time someone tells you that you shoot too many flowers, your subjects are always smiling, you produce too much black & white, you use Photoshop too much, you take too many pictures of door handles or that your images aren’t colorful enough, remind yourself that your goals are for you and no one else needs to know why you do the things you do.

Keep shooting. Everything else will come to you.

“…each time you are frustrated to the hilt and tell me you’re close to a breakdown is when you get your next project.”
“But I don’t ALWAYS do that.”
“Each and every time my love, each and every time.”

While I’ve thought about it a lot of times – shoot someone’s wedding for some”thing” in exchange instead of cash or make a logo for somebody for something in exchange – but in a monetary economy it’s more a day dream than a practicable thought.

While I might be able to barter with my potential clients, I will not find anyone else willing to barter their services for mine. What am I going to tell the sabzi-wallah [ aka grocer ]? Today I will take a picture of you and you will give me one kg onions? I think not.

Pity.

“We need to do a photo shoot for our corporate brochures and need models + photographers. As a start-up, we can offer credit & gratitude rather than professional fees.”

Someone must be paying for the printing of the “corporate brochures”.

All those crying hoarse from virtual rooftops about this being unrealistic and that being far from the truth. Don’t be stupid. Really. Get help. In the form of intelligent friends with whom you can have a conversation, which extends beyond the borders of “Who did you bang that night?” “What’s your current favorite alcohol?” “Traffic sucks.” “My Mom hates me.” “My job is killing me.”

There is no truth. Just your version of it.
Things happen yes. Those are facts. And very few know those facts. All you know, especially if you were not present there, is a “version”.

So A got slapped by B. The word “slapped” itself means different things to different people. Without your knowing who A and B are, if you call the “incident” fair / just / unjust, you are stupid. What if A is the father and B the son who drinks too much alcohol? Now reverse, B being the alcoholic father and A the sober son. Grow up. There is no excuse for being narrow minded.

Apart from the notion that you know the truth, you also color it when telling it forward. Mostly to your advantage. Admit it. Accept it. Being aware of it will allow you to sleep better and night and you can even call me up to tell me how wrong I am. As long as you are aware of what you’re doing. Maybe, then, we can even sit together and have a drink. Who knows. These things happen. Movies borrow from real life. The reverse is true rarely.

If you don’t understand what I am talking about above, you probably have very little appreciation for art.

Briefly, I have a very typical story : did the typical B.Com, MBA, worked for a year as a management consultant. Quit. Started freelancing as a graphic designer – identity, print, web and whatnot. After 4 years of that turned into a logo design specialist. In year six turned to photography and I shoot mostly portraiture, lifestyle and weddings now with very very selective clients for whom I still create visual identities – logos / branding etc. I am still not sure what I love more – identity design / photography – so I’ve settled, personally, calling myself a visual specialist [ ooooh! 😀 ]. I love colors, structure, chaos, to travel and weddings. Tough to shoot yet great place to learn how to shoot really. Constantly on my feet. A wedding shoot is the only way you’ll ever see me at a wedding 😉 This year I’ve had a chance to travel to Canada, France, Italy, Holland, Austria & Switzerland and there is nothing that can make me move from India, ever. It’s chaotic yes, most people are vile and untrustworthy yes, but the warmth here… I aint found it nowhere else. I am a stationery addict. I buy diaries and notebooks and sketchpads by the dozens and a buy a lot of books as well. I don’t have a library at home but if I built one, it would be full. Moleskines. Swoon. Lambrusco and Sherry by the bottle please.

No matter what I do or what I say, I no longer have your attention.
I can sense that you have spread yourself too thin.
That there are too many things and people pandering to you.
That you are lost.

Attributes like quality, patience, trustworthiness, conversation, integrity and beauty are no longer easy to recognize in this whirl of everythingness.

I stare at a flat surface the entire day.
The flat surface that is my window into your world.
The entire world is now your world.
I stare and yet I find nothing of substance.
It is the same for you.
What do you hold close to your heart still?
How can I snare your attention?

When I send you an email, your reply is distracted.
When I send you a text on your phone, your reply is distracted.
When I speak with you on the phone, your tone is distracted.
When I meet with you, you are distracted.
I am among multitudes who want to snare your attention.
But you, are distracted.

Do I need to touch you in so many ways, at so many different times a day, with so many different attention-seeking tactics?
Do you need my distractions to add to the already-existing multitudes?
Do you need me still?

[ This is related to social media and advertising and life in general and the ever increasing gaps in required attention spans and existing attention spans. ]

So many drunk parties at Buzz, long credit card statements, memories, making out in the one corner seat, from bachelors to married couples. Buzz and Vinay have seen us through a lot. Break ups, misunderstandings, dancing, bar fights, engagement parties, wedding parties, cocktails and experiments with wardrobes. Chances were, whether at 12 noon or midnight, if we were partying, we would be at Buzz, Gurgaon. And Vinay would be waiting on us. Giving us what we wanted – cigarettes, alcohol, a shoulder and lots of freebies thrown in. We liked our peanuts and when those were out of stock, Vinay would ensure we got our olives on ice and pineapple with cheese on ice and the night was always young. I could sit alone at a table and be sure that no one would trouble a single hot chick drinking alone. All thanks to Vinay.

Our man now, is the Manager at Tab 01. Also in Gurgaon. Met him last night and he looks dapper in his pin-stripe shirt, tie and belted trousers. And he is the same. “Hello Ma’am! It’s been one whole year since I saw you last. How is Bharat sir?” He remembers names, dates and pretty much everything else. He is going places and I couldn’t stop grinning each time I saw him walking around in the lounge, checking on guests and looking all manager-like. It might have been a tear in my eye but then it might have been cigarette smoke too.

From waiter to Manager, Vinay, you have come a long way and we’ve walked some of it along with you. We are lucky to have you in our lives and we hope we can still get some free booze!
From Negi & Twinkle, Midha & Priyanka Sachdeva, Saharan and his girlfriends, Akanksha & Aman, Bharat and I – here’s to many more years of wonderful PR skills and may you ascend further heights and own your own bar and lounge soon.

If I tell you, to your face, that I hate you, then I’m probably pissed at you about something and I actually love you.

If I think to myself that I hate you, I probably am pissed at you about something but don’t like you enough to waste my time by telling you.

If I tell a third person that I hate you and am smiling when I say that, I am probably jealous of your work and your success and want to be as successful as you – I just don’t have the balls to publicly admit that I adore you.

If I tell a third person that I hate you and am not smiling, I am probably feeling sorry / pity for your because of the stupid things you’ve done. And I will never tell you because I like feeling sorry for you. And the mild irritation that you cause me, is entertaining in the mundane pace of life. Sometimes.

If I actually hate and despise you, I will not talk about you with anyone. I will still keep tabs on what you do and I will pretend to be indifferent if you’re in the same room, by mistake. I will plot and plan my revenge for what you did to me and probably never act on it. If I do manage to one-up you, I will gloat, for a while. If you make the first move and apologize sincerely, I will stop hating you.