The Choices We Make
Life is full of twists and turns, and we always must choose. The choices we make are critical, and determine the way we live our lives, our approach to projects, and how we present ourselves. I know this sounds philosophical and grand, but when you weigh my words, you will agree (please do!) that there is a grain of truth in the words.
I don’t recall if I mentioned this when I wrote my blog called “My Beloved Olympus-2”, but for years after I found myself on the wrong side of the corporate door, I spent considerable energy trying to get back in. Then, a tube light exploded inside me, and I realized I was wasting my energy chasing the wrong horse. So, I made a choice: follow my heart and soul and chase the photography/storytelling horse.
When I did my “Seven Cities of Delhi” project, I made the correct photographic decision of presenting the images as digital simulations of 19th-century image-making techniques. However, I made the wrong choice in book size and paper type when I self-published my work. Further, I did not give myself sufficient time to craft the text. Therefore, when I look back at it now, I consider the prose turgid and stiff. The choices we make are critical because they affect the way we use our time.
Now, I am at another critical phase in a project, and I have not yet arrived at a definite direction. However, let me first explain my project. I have two, but I will only talk of one, the one occupying my thoughts nowadays.
I haven’t picked up a camera to do photography in the last two years, but this will change within March. However, I have been editing many old images, and I am happy with this. A few months back, I decided to edit a bunch of images I made of people over the last fifteen years.
My Fellow Indian
I call this mini-project “My Fellow Indian”, and I am aware this mini-project does not represent Indians from all the regions of the country. However, I possess these images, and I am editing them.
At the moment, I am going through the Lightroom edits, but I am in a quagmire. Do I do the final edits in color, or in black & white? Or shall I split them into color and monochrome? Within the world of monochrome, I will need to consider the final toning options I have–a cool selenium, or a warmer coffee, or ambrotype.
If I go for the color option, shall I stay within the realm of ‘normal color’, or do I opt for a stylized cinematic kind of approach?
The choices we make determine the path we tread, and I fear time will compel me to decide soon.
Two Years & Inequality Has Written
Now that I have reached this point, I must ask you if you are wondering why I am doing all this. If I may assume you are bursting with curiosity, then I will answer the unspoken question.
We’ve all lost money over the last two years, apart from the rich and powerful. They are accumulating more power, money, and prestige. We witness it in India, and you see it in the way the ‘tech titans’ are acting on the global stage.
Yet, there are many of us who are going to be left behind in the geopolitical drama being played out on the national and international stage. These ‘humble folk’ will be the first to be affected by public health disasters, pandemics, or climate change disasters.
So, when I edit these images, I think of them, and the way their life stories are playing out. Unfortunately, they face a paucity of choice, and may be compelled to confront a scary future.
The choices we make affect them as much as they affect us.
A Parting Note
I made the image of the young boy many years back, when I was living in Bombay. One evening, I went across to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, and photographed him as he sat in the dying sun. He looked at me with a direct look, something I didn’t always see during my corporate career. Soon after the policeman chased me off, saying I had no business photographing the bridge. Evidently, he has, or had, no idea of satellite imagery. I wonder what he will think of Elon Musk and Starlink.
What do you see in the boy’s eyes? And, what do you think of Starlink? Think deep.