A Day At The Village Market

This past December I had spent a decent 15 to 18 days at my village in Assam (India). And in most villages in India, just like mine, the market opens up for just one or two days in a week. People from all around the land come to the market on that particular day and the scenario turns to like those we see at fairs and fetes.

Sellers bring in all their goods, which could range from cows and buffaloes to locks and combs or vegetables and grains, etc. And buyers huddle around them taking a look and grabbing what they find necessary. It’s definitely a sight to be watched.

But sadly, when I was there, my camera had some kind of firmware problem and I could not use it to capture the brilliance around. So all I could use to capture those moments is my Samsung Galaxy Y. Well yeah, the camera isn’t anything great… As a matter of fact, it’s below average, but yet, something is better than nothing. So here are a few shots I managed to capture with the tool that I had…

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It’s An Everyday Struggle

Life isn’t a cupcake for everyone. Infact, at some stage or the other, it is a battle for everyone, which has to be fought. And this fact remains inevitable to almost every individual. But some of course have to fight tougher battles than others. While there are people who worry day and night about where to hide there black-money or how to double there stock market income, there are also people who spend there lives with just one thought… “Will I be able to earn enough for me and my family’s next meal?” They are mostly not very educated people, which might have been because their parents were never able to send them for formal schooling, or because maybe they themselves were never interested in education. It could also be because the responsibility of the family fell on their shoulders at too early an age. Or, maybe that inspite of being educated, they never got a proper job. Whatever maybe the reason, there life is now a struggle everyday, and they have to live with this struggle forever, until fate takes a U-turn for them.

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2013 Elections In Shillong

The Meghalaya Legislative Assembly election of 2013 was held on 23 February, 2013 to elect the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from each of the 60 Assembly Constituencies in the state of Meghalaya in India.

Inspite of the HNLC giving out an election boycott call in Khasi Hills by calling a 36 hours bandh, the Government had assured proper security in the zone, and had also made elaborate arrangements including free public transport facility to encourage maximum polling. According to The Shillong Times newspaper, 91 companies of security forces have been deployed all over the state to ensure a free and fair election.

Although most parts of the capital city Shillong remained deserted and shops have remained closed, people have showed a lot of enthusiasm in choosing their leader, which could be seen at every over-crowded polling booth.

Shooting Wide Open

There is information everywhere on the internet… Information about food, information about life, information about travel, information about sex, information about animals, information about everything, information about Street Photography!

I believe that one of the best places to learn and get inspiration about street photography is the internet. It’s free, and it’s in abundance. But all this knowledge comes from various individual sources, from their own individual experiences. Hence, before you pick up something from the internet, it is very important to figure out your personal choice and relevance to that information. Not necessarily every information on the internet has to true, or atleast, it doesn’t have to been universally true.

There are basic rules to almost everything on this planet. But after that, nothing has to be fixed to those rules. You should always move forward to bend or break those rules without any fear. At times you will succeed, and at times you may fail. But that is how you can leave a mark of your own.

Today, the rule I’m talking about is not exactly a rule, but more of a preference of most professional street photographers. Over the years of reading virtually indefinite number of street photography blogs and interacting with several different street photographers, one thing that I have come to notice is that most of them like to shoot with a very tight aperture. This value ranges from f/8 to f/16 or even f/22 for some. The reason for which they say is to get a clearer depth of field, and since street moments happen within a fraction of a second, and the photographer hardly gets any time to set his/her camera, the possibility of getting your subject in focus increases, even if your camera doesn’t focus on the right spot. And yes, they are absolutely right. You tend to miss out fewer shots by practicing this.

But I don’t find this preference applicable to my kind of shooting. I like to isolate my subjects from their surrounding. No matter how many subjects are there in my photograph, I want the viewer’s eyes to be immediately grabbed by the main subject in it. That is my style. I won’t say that I never missed a shot by doing this, but with more and more practice, I’m getting better and better at this. Previously, when I just had my 18-55mm lens, I shot at f/3.5, which was the maximum aperture for that lens. But now with the 50mm prime, I shoot at f/2.8. Although the lens can go down to f/1.8 but at that level the image starts to lose it’s sharpness. Though I definitely wouldn’t mind going even lower if my lens was of better quality. Besides, another advantage of shooting wide open is that I can get a much faster shutter-speed even in low light situations.

I don’t say that my method is the best, but this is my style, the way I like shooting. And I have found that out after several months of being out on the streets with my camera. All I want to say is that do not pick up knowledge from the internet in a blind manner. Judge according to what you want your pictures to look like, and go out to experiment. Find your own style. And remember, ‘failure’ is only one of the pillars to ‘success’.

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Hope this post is helpful to you people in some way. Feel free to leave your comment and feedback. Do you have a style of your own? Tell us more about it. And don’t forget to share the post in your circle.

The Guy I Chased

At times I do go real close while shooting people, but chasing a subject is not really my usual habit. At least I cannot remember ever doing so in the past two years of my street photography. To be honest, I’m a bit lazy to run after someone. And Shillong (the place I live in) isn’t that crowded, so if you actually start following someone with a camera, chances are that the person will notice you.

This incident occurred on 22nd March, 2012. I was out on the streets of a market doing my usual shooting. I shot for about 3 hours from late afternoon till it started getting a little dark. Then I decided that it was time to get back home, so I put my camera inside my bag and started to leave. But just as I came to the entrance of the market, I saw this fellow (photo below) and I immediately knew that I had to take his shot. He walked past me with his friend, and that too quite fast. I took out my camera and started following him. From a paced walk, I soon realized that I was literally running in order to overtake him. Anyways, finally I managed to cross him, but that too wasn’t enough. I had to get a minimum distance between us in order to turn back, focus, and get a proper shot. And I knew well that at this pace I was just gonna get one shot at him. No second chance. And well, as you can see, this was my finally output. I know it isn’t perfect, it isn’t precisely what I had in mind, but then again, it is something, and something is better than nothing at any point.

Fashion Stud

Women At The Front

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Also known as “The Abode of Clouds”, Meghalaya lies in the north-eastern hills of India, and its East Khasi Hills district is the home to an Austro-Asiatic family of the human race, the Khasis.

One unique characteristic of the Khasi tribe is their matrilineal system of society – a feature which we hardly get to see anywhere else in the world. When most states of India are busy shunning the girl child, Meghalaya is the only state that is holding a beacon of hope by putting the female on a strong pedestal of society.

Compared to the rest of India, women here are comparatively safer and command respect. Here a girl child is not considered a burden but is treated with equal status as the male child in both rural and urban societies.

Many of these women look after their own interest and earn their livelihood with great success. They are the provider for their families. They are the ones going to office, or setting up shops. Not just doctors and teachers, or any other indoor job, but from fishing in the lakes to chopping wood in the forests, they do not rely on the male to carry out any of these tasks. Be it crop farming or vegetation plantation, they are capable of doing it all.

In Meghalaya, women enjoy great freedom and independence. And hence, one can conclude that women’s emancipation is evident in all its glory in Meghalaya’s unique women centric society.

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“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task,
since it consists principally in dealing with men.”
~ Joseph Conrad

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“You educate a man; you educate a man.
You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”

~ Brigham Young

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“A woman whose smile is open and
whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty
no matter what she wears.”

~ Anne Roiphe

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“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode
but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.
It is the caring that she lovingly gives,
the passion that she shows.
The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.”
~ Audrey Hepburn

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“The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes,
because that is the doorway to her heart,
the place where love resides.”
~ Audrey Hepburn

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“The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing.
The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Legacy From An Unknown Author

Legacy From An Unknown Author

This is one of my MOST FAVORITE shot! I came across this very young character while roaming around in the market one evening. He was busy in his own world, playing around in the streets, but got very excited as he noticed me shooting around with my camera. He actually came to me and asked me to take a shot of his. Firstly I took a few casual shots, but then he took out the cross and pointed at the camera. I was amazed and my entire perspective of the subject changed. It was then that I noticed the depth in the child’s eye that really touched me. I put my focus on his face rather than the Cross, because for the first time I felt that someone was more important than the Almighty himself. The kid had absolutely nothing, his poverty was unimaginable, but yet he carried the Lord with him with all pride. Though I’m not very sure if he knows what the Cross actually means, or anything about God, but his attitude towards life is incredible. The reason for taking the tightest crop is because I wanted to hide his poverty as much as possible, coz inspite of being extremely poor, he is much richer from his soul than many of us. And an overhead shot because I feel that through this angle he is looking eye-to-eye with God, without questioning him about his horrible life, nor crying about his fate, but challenging him to live on with whatever he has.