कहत कबीर सुनो भाई साधतो
गुरू के चरण चित धारना…
Swami Vivekanand was once crossing a forest at night with his disciples. It was pitch dark. One of them suddenly said, “Swamiji, I have acquired a new siddhi and that will make life easy for all of you”. As he completed his sentence he closed his eyes. The area around him lit up. He then requested Swamiji to walk comfortably as the path was now clearly visible.
Swamiji looked at him, smiled and asked, where is the light? It was pitch dark again and the disciple was struggling. Swamiji told him, you will no longer be able to perform this. Your ego and your involvement in the siddhi will divert you from your end goal and hence it is not required.
So why did I share this story? Because I have found similar teachers at different stages. My father during my school days, professional mentors and my photography Guru.
I feel photography is not just an art form. It is an excellent tool to freeze moments in a frame. This is where the conflict arises. Are you interested in freezing moments or developing your skills and learn photography as an art form is what I had to ask myself?
I had ventured into photography with a goal of learning it as an art form. I was proven wrong by assuming that it is the easiest form of art. A painter has the luxury of eliminating an element from his canvas(he, however, needs the brains and visualization to decide that). A photographer, on the other hand, finds it extremely difficult to eliminate unwanted elements from the frame.
In this crowded world of photography, you need to be really lucky to find a good mentor who will keep you away from getting lost in small siddhis (redundant and repetitive photographs) and help you stay focused on your end goals.
I luckily fell in the good hands of Lalit Deshmukh (www.lalitdeshmukh.com). He is not the one who will spoon feed you. It’s your efforts that will count at the end. But then he will never mislead you. I have read so many posts and scanned through ample photographs by established photographers that are completely misleading. If you follow the pattern you are stuck. A photograph needs to be technically correct. Yes, you should break rules. But to do that you need to understand them well and must have played with them enough.
Lalit and his critiquing forum(Impressions photography) turned out to be the biggest differentiator. On this forum, it is very easy to get turned off. But then if you know how to stay motivated and learn then this is one of the finest platforms. Photo+EXIF+recommendations is the perfect package to learn. Once you have these 3 in place you only need to use common sense.
Through various comments I learned, a good photograph needs minimum a balanced composition, some neat geometry, good light, effective contrast, a clean background, a straight horizon, colors that will complement each other, tones that will gel with the colors, shadows that create depth, subjects that don’t merge Etc. Etc.
It is extremely difficult to bring all these components together in a single photograph. So that’s where digital photography helps. You can review your photograph on the camera screen the moment it is clicked. Read the histogram and think if all the above checkboxes are ticked. If not, recompose, modify settings and try again. Getting it right the first time will come only with practice.
Self-critiquing is another important mantra I learned. It is one of the most difficult aspects. A year before I was carried away by the thought of posting one photo a week. Now with self-critiquing, I post 1 photo a month. That too, if I really have something to share. If I go for a photo tour I hope to come back with 4 or 5 good clicks. The rest I know are good moments captured to share nice experiences and stories over my blogs.
Today on teachers day, I would like to thank Lalit for mentoring me from behind the scenes. I have a lot more to learn and I hope the association lasts longer. The photographs selected for the blog are the ones that were awarded “photo of the week” on the critiquing forum.