05 January 2012

Street Photography Workshop

Early November last year, Eric was in India to conduct Street Photography Workshops in Mumbai. All in all, 3 batches and I managed to get into the last one on a weekend. But this post is not about a review of the workshop. I do not think its fair to do a review, since each of the participants must have come looking for something and its hard to say what worked for them and what not. I was there to network and I was quiet happy to connect with fellow photographers who were as passionate about street photography as me. This was also my first formal training on photography. I am a self taught photographer, learning by observing, talking and doing. And for those who love reading there is enough on the web and elsewhere in form of books. There is no alternative to picking up your camera and learning by shooting.

Allow me to ramble on.... 2011 was the year, I finally found my calling in street photography. I had struggled earlier and often rationalized by saying that its too early for me to narrow down my genre - let me shoot what I feel like. But Street Photography always felt more honest and sensitive. It went well with my sensibilities. So coming back to the workshop, it was a good idea to attempt understand what made a street photograph work and what not. Did I get the answer, probably not. There are some rules, but as is always said, rules are meant for broken. Street Photography is very personal, you have Bruce Gilden in your face street portraiture, or the witty juxtapositions of David Gibson or for those of who prefer HCB a strong focus on compositions - geometry and forms as the father of street photography himself put it.

Over the 2 day workshop, I must have spent 2-3 hours shooting on the street. And as expected my outings with the larger groups were a disaster. I somehow never get into the zone when shooting with large groups, the whole idea of everyone honing onto same subject just takes the zest out of shooting. So most of my shots that worked, I have 4-5 of them, are shot during hours I was alone. We were asked for select the 2 of the best shots. It would be great to know which ones do you like most. At the risk of biasing your opinion, I have added my views on why the shot worked for me. Critique of a photograph - of why it works, just manages to work or does not work is an important skill set for any aspiring photographer. While there is fair bit of objectivity, there isnt enough of it always. For me photographs work at two levels much like music. There are some which immediately catch attentions, the instant wow factor which often becomes the reason to spend more time looking at a shot. And there are times usually with more complex layered shots, where the story untangles after a few looks.



Shot this at Gateway of India. A popular tourist location, cliched infact. The unusual stance of the kid and the latent energy made this work for me. Kids always manage to do what they love and thats why they make such great subjects on streets.
The Little Warrior, Mumbai 2011
The Little Warrior

It was already 8 30 am when I shot this somewhere around Taj. The story of street dwellers told and untold in many ways, continues to touch my heart. This poignant moment and shot remained one of my favorites of the day.
That's Life, Mumbai 2011
Life!


There are times when while editing you realize what else your camera caught. I had intended to shoot only the old man - a nice interesting face that attracted me. The girl was caught in the frame luckily. The uncanny contrast worked for me. There are times when contrary to feedback, some images work for me - this is one of them. I do not really have an answer why.
Contrasts
Contrasts

I am not into street portraiture, but this one was of an ear cleaner at the Horniman Circle. I was later told that every single of 60 workshop participants had shot him, almost making him a celebrity, but this one was probably one of the better ones. I have to remember to give him a printout of his photograph.
Void
The Ear Cleaner


Shooting cabbies is easy and when they are sleeping its even easier. I was surprised to see him in the back seat (probably not his cab) and his grey hair and weary hands had so much to tell. With my 35mm I could not get the wide perspective I would have loved, but am happy with this shot.
Weary Hands
Weary Hands

Weary hands and now weary feet. Another easy shot some would say. Its always easy to shoot sleeping people. For me there was the story of a long night, and the perspective powerful enough to include it here.
A Hard Days Work
A Long Hard Night


Which of these shots would you have chosen if only two were allowed to be picked. Do share what made you choose the one you did.

And a thank you note to Eric, who is a cool person to hang out with. His workshops are not about him lecturing but about you finding out what works for you. More than anything else, his passion and love for street photography is a great inspiration. Kudos to you mate. 

29 comments:

57andrew said...

My 2 favourite shots are the first and the last. A fine collection.

Zephyr said...

If I had to pick two out of these, they would be Contrasts and Weary hands. The second one tells a story without even showing the man's face. Loved them all. I remember telling you that your streets shots are wonderful and that you should do a series on them, remember? I am going to take some credit for your final choice, zabardasti :D

Purba Ray said...

Each of your photographs is a classic and begging for a story.  My favourites would be contrasts and life. I love the little warrior too - the harsh city life could not disrobe the little boy of his innocence. 
 

mayankpandey said...

Thanks @purba, @Zephyr @Andrew - its going to be quiet interesting to find the choices readers make. Maybe, I should end with an update on which ones I chose. 

Sunil Deepak said...

For me as well it is the first image of the child and the one of contrasts that work most, probably because both have strong undercurrent of emotions (real or imagined) that has been captured in the images ..

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

They're all great shots, Mayank, and I don't really want to choose. But as you're asking, I'll go for the first two. The first for the pose (as you point out, yourself), and for the latent energy that it has. The second for the story that it tells.

Thanks for the links to those photographers. I particularly like David Gibson's shots. Others may provide great inspiration, but as you say, there's no substitute for going out there with the camera and just shooting.

Nimish said...

i quite like all the photographs in the series. But the old man and the girl particularly stands out. to me it says,  the older generation blinks first, it is that strong. Also the portrait of the ear cleaner, his eyes are striking! Eric Kim has been an inspiration for me and one of the major reasons why i am completely addicted to Street Photography. 
I completely agree with you on the point of avoiding shooting in groups. It is great for a beginner to shoot in groups to get the confidence on the street, also you tend to learn a lot while exchanging notes with group members. But i realised that when in a group, the whole group tended to shoot the same subject, maybe from different angles. That kinda puts me off about shooting in groups. Photography like running, is a solitary pursuit for me.
Looking forward to many more street photographs through your blog:) 

PK Talli said...

I love all of these photographs.....I feel if you keep clicking this way, you should totally get 2012 award! We shall make it happen on CPB....

All the best!

Kaushal said...

Hey Mayank, Happy New Year.  This post brought back fun memories of the workshop:) My favourite 'street image' from the ones you showed here is 'life'. It tells a story of life for many on the streets, but yet does so in effortless, un-gimmicky, matter-of-fact way that makes it work for me.

Nittinj said...

awesome....life...chaos...colors in black and white !!

mayankpandey said...

well said @Nimish. Thanks for dropping by.

mayankpandey said...

If i could spill the beans.. those were the ones that i finally picked myself with help from eric much though my heart was for contrasts.

mayankpandey said...

Thanks Kaushal. Best wishes to you too. 

mayankpandey said...

Thanks Chintan. I would definitely continue clicking and hope the shots work out as per everyones and mine expectations. 

mayankpandey said...

@Nittinj - thanks for dropping by and glad you liked this post. Pls do see other posts as well and share your feedback.

Max said...

Amazing pictures Mayank ! Love the first two pics (like everyone else) but I love the composition of the last one too. Looking at this reminds me, why people underestimate street work ?

mayankpandey said...

Hi Manu, its not well understood genre. It is indeed difficult, very personal (with different styles) and good / great shots will stand out amongst other genre good / great shots viz landscapes, flowers etc. Those who shoot street, only shoot for the love of the genre as there is indeed no or little monetary gains.

Indiana Amrita said...

It's really difficult to choose one among all the images.. All the images are point-blank, stark and have untold stories... I think, you should write about them sometime.. :)

Love,
Indie :)

PS. Loved each of them totally :)

mayankpandey said...

Thanks Indie always a pleasure to hear your feedback. :)

thoma said...

you've your heart right in the middle of all these photographs! delightful to keep looking at them...love Life! and all the rest too. photo new year! 

mayankpandey said...

Thanks Thoma. Hearing from you after a long time. How have you been?

Shadows Galore said...

Beautiful ! This is my first time here and now I am hooked :)

Max said...

I agree, wholeheartedly.

giftwithlove said...

Nice touching photos.............giftwithlove.com

joshi daniel said...

loved the sleeping pictures!

ahmedabadonnet said...

fantastic shots...
ahmedabadonnet.com

Hindi Sms said...

You have a great sense of writing I must say. Your post has those facts which are not accessible from anywhere else. I request you humbly please keep writing such remarkable articles.

Sagar Kolte said...

Interesting blog. Nice to know you are based in Mumbai, I too am from Mumbai, but presently based in Seoul. These images remind me of home. (www.koltesagar.wordpress.com)

feetfromshore said...

amateur photography

These pictures caught my eye. I love monochromatic and street photography. Excellent combination of both!

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