” Were you artistic right from the school days? “, my friend shot at me while I was enjoying my dosa in ANC.

I replied, ” Hmm, Ya sort of. I wasn’t downright artistic but I would like to believe that I was creative. Wasn’t a Picasso but my school projects were always better than the rest, even girls.”

” Cool! “, said my friend.

” But it was more of hard work than sheer brilliance”, I added.

By this time I had understood the true implication of his question. He meant photography. He was looking for a comforting answer as to whether he could do it too. We always like to believe that we are brilliant if we are good at something. But the real question was  –  Is photography an Art or Science? Am I really artistic or is it a science that I have mastered. I just present here what I feel from my personal experience. I am still too naive to be called a good photographer but undoutebly better than many amateurs.

my very first shot

Surely it is an art. But unlike other true forms viz painting etc. it can be cultivated. To me it is more than a hobby, a passion that keeps me going when I want a break from the usual to  get adventurous. It gives an outlet to flush out  my frustration when I feel down.  It brings out the sensitive part of me and helps me to understand the true nature of things. By relating to unrelated people, their emotions and understanding how life works for them makes me all the more human.

Photography happened by chance. I never expected to pick it up though being constantly  fascinated by compelling photographs, never bothering to look past it. Quite ordianary Huh? I know. I joined the Photography Club at my college BITS Pilani because of all the clubs it came out with recruitments at  just the right  moment when I decided to join a club. I wasn’t there for just the namesake and the social well being of being acceptable into a community as it is considered a hep thing, if you belong to any department or club, in my college. Like many who find security in a herd too satisfied with being cared and nurtured and blinded to see past their hedge while  living in a utopia only to be shattered by a little soul searching, I am more of  a free bird to belong to any and that is why I think Photography just works fine for me.

On given a camera for the first time all by myself happened when I went to Manali to Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports for Trekking . I just went bezerk with splendor of nature that lay before my eyes. Click click I would go without giving a second thought to how it might come out. I just wanted to capture all that was so beautiful. It was a magical experience and that is where I developed a keen interest in taking photographs.

At the club I met 3 people who had impact on me. One was the Living god Abhinav Toshniwal  aka Tullu, preached by all, count me out. He is an amazing photographer. checkout his photostream – www.flickr.com/photos/abhinavt. Although I never learned anything directly from him, his work has been a constant source of  motivation for me.  Second comes Amar Jain who has been a constant support when ever  I needed any guidance. Third  and the most prominent is Deepak Maloo. He taught to me not to take things seriously and let them go when you can’t help it. WE have worked together on numerous occasions. Other people who have been soul mates on the journey are Soumit and Harmohit. Despite Soumit’s errant behavior  we gel up like oil and water. Harry is just a darling, the boy next door. Lazy, lethargic and a passionate photographer. Apart from all this I am a self learned photographer. I read ebooks, better photography and google a lot. Looking at others photograph I try to emulate them. In nutshell this is what I did.

So in essence I wasn’t really artistic but I have trained my self to see creativity. When you spend sufficient time with your camera it becomes a third eye through which you see a different world as seen never before. This third eye come with patience and self training. No one can train you to be a good photographer but guide, they can. The best way to learn photography is to go out on the street and play with your camera. Try a perspective as tried never before and it won’t be long you will start getting good photographs.

Foremost thing to learn is about your gear. You should be thorough with every functionality of your gear. What ever it may be. You tryout innovative measures when the resources are scarce. Battery should be always completely charged and memory card in camera. These things might seem trivial but are not. Trust me I have been there, done it and it is out of experience. Always keep things like a torch, muslin cloth, lenses, shutter releaser and a tripod. Keep extra batteries when planning for a long trip or else you will miss on the coveted moment.

Once you are thorough with your gear you need to enhance your creativity and power of observation to see the world in a different perspective than the rest. You should be accustomed to get a idea of the shot without even looking through your lenses. Frames should form in your mind as you observe your surroundings. Ever wondered why your companion got amazing shots clicking a nicely textured autumn leaf just by your side while you were dirt searching thinking what to click. World is full of beauty, its all around you and all you have to do is see. Developing this third eye is the most challenging part of photography.

To get the perfect photograph, your dream composition you often need to go an extra mile, push your limits and do all what it demands. I have waited days for the right moment to click the compostion in my mind. Its not just how you capture but how well you understand your surroundings and try to control variables as much as you can. You need to things which would be considered insane by most. I once tried took a shot of a marriage procession only to be held by the collar minutes later by a big burly man. I don’t mind lying on the ground in front of thousand people, asking strangers to move in or move out, waking early into the morning and going for photography session, I don’t fear anything that might come in between my subject and camera. Once there was a very intriguing sadhu baba but very scary perfect for an eye grabbing portrait but all the fellow photographers in my club were scared to appraoch him. Later they got to shoot him only because had the guts to ask him. I once went inside the auditorium of IIT Mumbai with my camera to capture ADA the fashion show that too by dodging security  and changing shirt my my friends and hiding into the toilet so that the police doesn’t recognize us. These incidents if not fruitment certainly were thrilling. I always end up near the stage photographing performances in my college which is a restricted area. But making excuses and fooling people I got to photograph the Shankar Mahadevan Show!. Guess people are so used to see me around the stage that they don’t mind me anymore. As a photographer you need to camouflage in your environment so that you capture moments in their natural flavour. But I am not insolent, most of my clicked photographs are used for fest publicity.

In short, if you are ready to go the extra mile for each photograph and you can imagine frames when you close your eyes, then all it takes is hard work to be a good photographer. Keep clicking and Be alive! Adios till the next post.

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