Street Photography in Mumbai April 10, 2014
I have always had a keen interest in photography, but never really explored it, other then taking travel shots mostly. I decided that since I had some time, I would head to India to learn more about photography, and practice shooting. I was not sure what I really wanted to focus on. I like taking pictures of buildings, food, people…so I was open to any genre almost within this area. Mumbai would be a good place. I always liked Mumbai and had only spent a few days there here and there. My friends Sans and Mike were also there, they live there, so it made sense. I started to look up photographers in Mumbai and came up with a list of about 18. I wanted someone to help me ‘open my eyes’ and see better. In addition to that, learning a bit about my camera would be useful. I had several people write back to me but it was important for me that the type of work they did fit within what I was looking to do. I was not keen on fashion for example. I was thinking more along the lines of travel or portrait but then I came across something called Street Photography. I mean I have taken pictures of people on the streets, but this is much different than that.
What is Street photography? Well, I would have to say that it involves capturing people or animals that are involved in an activity of some sort – capturing elevated moments, without asking people for permission and without them really stopping doing what they are doing. You really do not want posed pictures. It can be challenging and scary at times. I had to take my camera right up to people’s faces to take some of the shots that I did within the 5 days of shooting. What would they say I thought? What if someone hit me or yelled at me in Hindi?! I had 2 people say ‘no’ to me during those 5 days and strangely enough, they were both children! Good for them I say! The rest were quite friendly. Some of them asked what was going on…”Media hai”?
Street is about getting really close to people to tell a story. You have to think about framing and layering and making sure that you do not cut people’s legs or arms off. Sometimes it is fine but it really depends on the story you are trying to tell. One must take multiple shots of the same event and even then, you may not get what you are looking for. I went to about 6 different areas within South Mumbai with my mentor, Kaushal Parikh. It was great fun. In terms of knowing my camera’s functions, we did not really focus on that. I actually used Kaushal’s Olympus on the first day and my Canon on subsequent days. I think it really is about the eye, though I would like to know more about reading graphs and ISOs etc. at some point. Right now though, I rather focus on ‘seeing better’ and just taking pictures. I am not so sure how this would work in North America. I mean I cannot imagine people in NYC being okay with me taking a picture of their child randomly. There are people there that do this though, so I will just have to give it a try!
Some famous street photographers include: Vivian Maier, Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson.