A.g.’s note: We previously had the chance to feature That’s life street photography collective members Dimitris Makrygiannakis and Kaushal Parikh. Dimitris treated us with his Transformative Experience of shooting street photography abroad and an interview Eric had with him about Surrealism and Symbolism while Kaushal shared his thoughts on how he is Conquering the streets of Mumbai. They are back this time telling us stories behind some of their favorite the street shots. They also have a series of upcoming workshops. Details of it are at the bottom of the post.
I stayed in Jaisalmer in winter 2012 for 25 days although the initial plan was to stay for 2-3 days. I consider those days as the most productive period in my street photography. Jaisalmer is a very sunny town in general and the day this photo was taken was a rather cloudy and windy day. It was one of my last days in Jaisalmer and since I knew that I already had a good work and since the weather was not the best (for Indian standards) I initially thought to stay in my hotel and just relax the whole day but I was driven by some internal power to another photo walk. The spot the photo is taken is a popular view point in Jaisalmer and many tourist groups come with their guides and stay for quite some time. The man was a tourist guide explaining things and the woman was among the people listening to him. I saw his gestures and I saw her hair floating in the air due to the wind. I shot around 30-40 frames. This one was the keeper. Since then I keep thinking that bad weather can be a friend for street photographers :-)
In 2012, I did this 4 month trip in India. I am very happy to say that this photo was shot during the first day of this trip. I arrived from the airport to a hotel in Delhi in the morning, had some breakfast, and went for the first photo walk of this long trip. I was tired but also super excited. I think it was not more than 15 minutes since I started my walk when I saw this policeman sitting on a bench below the plant. I thought that I might get in trouble but my memory card was empty so I didn’t have any good photos to risk if the policeman wanted to give me trouble. I shot only 1 frame, this one, I looked at him, he looked at me, I smiled to him and went slowly away. I realized the following months that policemen in India (as in the rest of the world) can be real assholes, so I am happy this photo exists :-)
This photo was shot in Chitracut, it is a small town with a small river that is considered holy. Consider it a miniature of Varanasi. It is quite common to see people washing themselves in holy rivers. Since it is a common touristy event in my eyes, I would never shoot this photo if it wasn’t for those swan-like birds. I saw the 3 birds floating to the direction of the man and immediately I created the image in my mind exactly as it is shot. I started running after them and shooting, I think in total it was 4-5 frames I shot, and this was the keeper. This photo for me is not a photo of a man and 3 birds with the optical trick of the white heads only. It is a symbol for a nation I love, the Indian nation. A nation who is somehow stuck in its history and tradition but who is slowly progressing. Something like the fairy tale with the ugly duckling that became a swan. A good question is if this progression of the Indian nation is really a good thing, but I guess there are many answers.
This photo is also shot in Jaisalmer. I consider it one of those photos where all the elements are there waiting for you, you have just to see it and click it. The sky had an unusual pattern of clouds and I was walking around in a quiet area of the city. Suddenly I saw the image. It was there waiting for me. The man was probably waiting to take a shower. I honestly did not know when I started shooting the scene if I really wanted him to be in the photo since I initially noticed how nicely the patterns of the building and the clouds were fitting together. But he would not move :-) After I shot some frames I noticed the patterns in his towel which was a nice extra element in the composition, and after all I decided that the human presence was a nice small detail. So I moved on :-)
This photo was shot in Rishikesh, a holy Indian town located on both sides of the river Ganges. A major daily event in the life of the city is the evening Puja, where rituals are performed next to the river. Usually, tons of people gather in the evenings next to the river. In order to avoid optical noise in events where so many people are packed next to each other, night-time, I sometimes shoot with a flash with my shutter speed anything from 0.5-2.5 sec, so that I highlight the central event and I get rid of the surrounding noise. Honestly, I think I have been extremely lucky with this photo. I was walking back to my hotel after a Puja and I saw this group of Muslim boys walking in front of me in a dark road. I really don’t know why but I shot them. I still had the same camera settings from the Puja I just came from because I forgot to change them. This beautiful metaphysical photo appeared in my camera. I know it is a matter of luck but it happens also to be one of my best photos. It talks about religion and the hopes religious people have for entering another life. I am not at all religious and I personally think that religion is the opium of the masses, giving false hopes to people but I can’t help but love this photo.
Sometimes patience really pays off. I generally try to have some kind of narrative in my images. When I saw this pregnant woman and kids hanging around outside their house, I decided to sit down a few feet away and wait for something more to happen. When the slightly senile lady walked into my frame on the left I saw a potential story forming with people of different ages. As I waited for the elements to fall into place an old woman walked out of the house to collect some utensils. When she turned to go back in the other elements were positioned perfectly and my story – ‘the circle of life’ – was complete.
Again it was my perseverance to get the best frame that paid off. I liked the quiet moment with the 2 guys sharing the headphones. I wanted to position myself so I could see a bit of one guys face. I also wanted another element in the background to add some context. As I bobbed around to find the best position I noticed the wire hanging from the wall that created a surreal effect from a certain angle. I took my position and when the guy in the background walked past I had my shot with an added surreal quality to the already sweet moment.
This was an image that presented itself on a platter. The concentration of the faces all looking in one direction and then the one boy sitting facing the other way looking disinterested in what was going on behind him. This scene, that says so much about how kids so often live in their own world, instantly amused me.
I saw some potential in this scene as there was a lot going on. I positioned myself so the guy working with the wires was in the foreground and the man by the scooter and the boy by the Rickshaw were mid-frame. This gave me a colorful background. My main attraction to the scene was this girl behind a window with prison-like bars. She kept walking to the window, looking out for a bit and then turning and going back in. I had to wait for her to be at the window and the foreground guy to do something dynamic at the same time while hopefully the other man and boy would stay where they were. Oftentimes, luck plays a huge role in capturing a decent image. As it happened, she appeared just as the foreground man raised his arm while the other man and the boy looked away from the camera.
This image has less of a narrative but I was drawn to the arrangement of the elements. It was shot at night and the shadows were created by artificial light. Again it was a scene that was ready for the taking. I only had to make sure I held the camera steady since the shutter speed was very slow.
Links to Kaushal’s and Dimitris’ website
Street Photography Workshop with Dimitris and Kaushal
Dimitris and Kaushal will conduct 2 batches of a 6 day workshop!
Workshop 1: 26 November – 01 December 2014 (Jodhpur and Jaisalmer)
Workshop 2: 03 December – 08 December 2014 (Udaipur and Bundi)
For more information on requirements, details, and rates (including the early bird rates till September 15, 2014) check out the that’s life workshop page