I vaguely remember taking the above shot. I say vaguely because it was one of many. It was part of a ‘blitzkrieg’ shooting episode in the heart of Delhi’s chaotic inner sanctums and alleyways. All I remember, was the instinctive lifting up of the camera, firing the shutter and then me moving swiftly on. Only later, in the comfort of my hotel room, when viewing the picture on the screen did I hum ‘ahhh’ – now I know why I had taken it. A lot of shots taken in the heat and mix of a swirling market-place are like that. You don’t have time to reason and compose and ponder. You see a scene and it’s instinctive. The geometry and the subject matter feel ‘right’. And you shoot. Only later do you realise why.
Delhi and India was crazy. It left me palpitating because everywhere I looked there were photo opportunities galore. I was like someone who has been put on a starvation diet, who is then suddenly released into a supermarket. So many things to shoot! So much noise and grime and people and poverty and wretchedness . A theatre of the daily rituals of life. So much life! And not just a sanitized version of life but the real thing: warts and all.
There were no hiding places here. All is in the open. And my camera soaked it in like a tea-towel.
What did I do? I had the camera tightly wrapped around my wrist. There was no way I was putting it in the bag to take out at every shot. That would never work. I had plenty of battery power. I felt good and confident – some of this no doubt due to the fact that I’d already been on the road for 5 months – so I was a seasoned soldier. Battle hardened as they say! I remember walking very fast through the choking Dickensian streets, shooting away, my eyes homeing in on anything of interest, my mind rapt with attention. I never lingered. You don’t linger. You shoot and move on. But the camera must be able to keep up with your eyes. Keep up with your vision. These shots are momentary – split second scenes, ephemeral glimpses to disappear forever. I caught them! These moments. But how many gems did I miss?! Oh the imagination can dream!
I remember feeling fear but also a thrill. The thrill of being in the midst of a frothing bubbling river and not knowing where this river; this river of people and humanity and the stuff of humanity would take me. I coursed along the narrow streets; the veins of the city, dragged by the rip tide, and let it take me – not resisting. Allowing the Brownian motion and random jostling’s of the universe shoo me along to my faith. Perhaps I would end up in the ocean? With all the other detritus and sewage and filth!
It felt dangerous! There were no tourists here. No others with cameras. And me, a little fly, buzzing around with a huge expensive camera dangling from its wrist. Alone in a universe of indifference. But the fear was more a fear of the unknown as opposed to a specific threat. Are these people bad? Am I stumbling into a rough neighbourhood? Am I taking unnecessary risks? I didn’t know the answers to these questions – I could only go with my instincts and they were unanimous: shoot! And get on with it!
It is probably the single most enjoyable photographic experience I’ve ever had. And some of the fruits of this are shown below:
Why do I love Photography?
Because it’s the best thing I know that makes me feel, most alive.