Photographing People Rebuilding Their Lives
I am returning to the streets this year, and I have my reasons for this. For one, it has become expensive to travel. When I asked a hotelier about the escalating hotel prices, he shrugged and told me they must make up for their Covid losses. Life has become difficult for all of us, or many of us, in the last two years. Many people in India have become unemployed, and I feel an undercurrent of frustrated anger coursing through the country. Therefore, I intend to focus on people rebuilding their lives and trying to make a living.
I have an interim title for this project, which defines the underlying theme of the project. I got the title from the Australian band, “Men at Work”, though I assumed Kraftwerk had a song by the same name. So yes, the working title of the project is “Men at Work”.
People have lost jobs in India and, even before the pandemic, unemployment was running high. When this phenomenon propagates through society, anger fills the void. In fact, this is when politicians step in to fill the breach and rule. In India, our ruling party has fuelled this anger and steered it towards Muslims. There is little focus on people rebuilding their lives, and what the government can do to help.
A Digression. Nietzsche
As a result, our society has become divided and fragmented. I can write extensively on this topic, but I always one thing Nietzsche said.
Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.Nietzsche
This could be a misquote, but I guess you understand what he means when he said that.
Most people don’t realize the growing inequality in India. A gentleman, Gautam Adani, was worth $7 billion in 2014 and is worth $90 billion today. But most people want to get on with life and care for their families. Go analyze.
As I Continue With The Work
Therefore, I choose to focus on this: people rebuilding their lives, and just getting on with making a living. I am aware some people may label me as a sexist with a title like “Men at Work”, but this is not the case. Over time, I will find a more representative title. So, if someone has some bright ideas, let me know!
Years back, when I started my life in street photography, I delighted in photographing poor people, and calling my images “authentic”. As time passed, my attitude changed with it. Nowadays, when I analyse my earlier approach, I realize I am guilty of “poverty porn”. I acknowledge now, there is no harm in photographing poor people on the street. We have many poor people in India, and it is impossible to avoid them. However, if I glory in their poverty, then I am guilty of exploiting their situation.
Therefore, I always try, these days, to capture their laughter, their spirit, their dignity. I am not doing them a favor. In fact, the reverse may be true.
Back to the streets. This is where I started. This is where I resume my photography. As I work my way through this little project, I hope I do justice to my countrymen who are rebuilding their lives.
The Camera I Will Use
When I go back to the streets, I will use my new camera, the Fujifilm XT-4, and a 35mm f2 Fujinon lens. If you are an Indian, you can click the affiliate links I embedded, and explore the camera on Amazon India.
A gentleman told me I made a mistake when I bought the 35mm lens. In his opinion, the lens for street photography, if you are using a crop sensor, is the 23mm lens. I didn’t want to argue with him, because it is vital for you as a photographer to choose the lens which supports your approach to photography.
Too many people these days like to prescribe approaches to landscape, street, and other kinds of photography. The result: too many images look the same. A formulaic approach is the quickest way to kill any creative endeavor.
In conclusion, choose the gear which supports your needs, and not the other way around.