How many of you have seen this image below :
Did you laugh at it ? All seeming true. Isn’t it ? It wasn’t a fad when I started photography. It was not many years ago that I bought my camera. A junior of mine inspired me to open a facebook page for my photographs. People appreciated. I’m happy about it. I am no one to lecture people around about specific do’s and dont’s,, But this post has a purpose. Read through.
This image has three sets of stake holders : One who photographs and laughs at it. One who does not photograph and laughs at it. One who photographs and does not laugh at it.
So what makes it so laughable ? – The Indian youth, the kind of publicity Facebook offers or is it the Indian society’s mindset ?
Well, time to ponder upon. But before that ..few quick points :
As a facebook netizen, I get irritated because of the following :
1) Mass tagging : You click a photograph. However good or bad you know it is, you tag 40 odd people in it. 6 of them turned up to “like” it. Dear friends, respect your work. If your work is good, your heart gets satisfied at first. You do not require “like”s to tell your heart – “I’ve done a good job”. A good photograph, will always find viewers, (and definitely at Facebook). Please do not do this. “Good thought, Good words, Good deed… leads to ultimate success” … is true to the rest of the world. For us in photography (if you are seriously in it ) “Good thought, Good frame, Good shot …leads to ultimate success”. See, even I used to tag people. That time, tagging wasn’t so mainstream and I had limited it. But with maturity, I felt this is unnecessary. People kept commenting on their photographs so that they would remain obnoxiously visible. I personally do not approve of the intention.
2) Requesting for a “good” review : Be open to criticism please. We are artists. If someone is spending some time of his/her’s, at least respect that effort. You might agree, or you might prefer not to. But be open to them; who knows, you might get a million dollar advice! Do not ask a person (who is elder to you) “Dada, bhalo comment koro”. That comment in bengali roughly translates to “Elder brother, please leave for me a good comment”. If your work is good, your elders will always say its good work and will suggest betterment. If your photograph is bad, why did you upload it in the first place?
3) Creating a group chat, adding a hundred people and asking to comment : I shall get personal at this. If you want me to review it, please show respect and humility. Drop me the link to your photograph personally and I shall oblige.
As a person I get irritated when :
1) An young kid shows off his DSLR behaving as though he is some awesome photographer : He very well might be. But humility marks an artist.
2) Speaking all bull shit about another photographer : Well, that’s entirely personal and loosely related to photography. More of a personal trait. But friends, be honest. Be humble. Appreciate others’ work. Who knows you might get something interesting to learn from them ? Respect your seniors and more importantly – contemporaries.
For a moment, let’s not laugh at it. I really did not intend to crack a joke. But if you have managed to laugh in between, let us find time to laugh at you. Why do we point at a handful of Indian Youth, generalise them and make ourselves believe that, that is the picture of the entire nation ?
Personally speaking, all the 5 points I pointed out previously would hardly manage to gather near 200 heads in my 2500+ photographers in my facebook friend list. Can I say that all of the young photographers in my profile ask from me “good comments” ? Can I claim that all of them, creates a group and send links ? Perhaps, no. Even I was generalising.
We need to understand that times are changing. We require to shift our attention from traditional Computer science or whatever engineering, medical or whatever traditional to more creative aspects. If they are interested, let us guide them.
Let us not impose on them our thoughts, or laugh at their aspirations. Let us encourage freedom.
Not everyone is bad. If we carry out statistical analysis among the Indian youth who hold the camera, we will see :
1) An overwhelming majority will be under the age of 22. That’s precisely college and school students.
2) A very good percentage shall be of people who REALLY want to learn and is not getting proper guidance. Youtube cannot suffice always.
Now what has Facebook done ? They bring to these young people good photographs to inspire them. The youth stands inspired today. All these Name-Surname-Photography is an exhibition of their aspirations. They express their frustration when they are not guided properly. All the mass tagging, messaging and stuff are exhibitions of a mix of expectations and frustration.
They wish to be guided, They wish to be visible and a pat on their back shall work wonders, trust me.
I was/am a regular face at Kolkata Weekend Shoots. And if you happen to read this, you already know where I post my photographs. Online, I started a group – “Amateur Photographer Unit Pan India”. It got moderately good response. This is where I started knowing each of members personally. I took it offline with “The Meetup Group : Photography Discussions” and now see this :
Prashant Awasthi, Srivatsan Sankaran and Me just enhanced the concept of my previous initiatives to make “Journal of Indian Photography“. Few people said that we have many such “pages”. How much of the response shall we get ?
Now be informed : This page is 15+ days old. We did not “tag” people. We did not “mass share” links. I personally invited few people.
This page has 1219 members right now. I am blessed, we found very good help from people we look up to : Mr Sayantan Mitra , Sapna Reddy, Mr Trilochan Kalra ..and their friends. Among my contemporaries we found Raghav, Rammohan Paranjape, Antony Pratap , Arundhati Chatterjee, Karthik Pashupathy, Kartikeya Jain, Vishnu Sivanandan.
We conducted a contest.. That’s Contest#1 : “My best shot”. We have more than 141 people participating in it. The youngest of the lot being a 15 year old guy Kushaghra from Kolkata who photographed with his iPhone. We had 16 year olds participating. the average age was near 22 I guess (I shall come out with the complete statistics), spread over – Delhi , Lucknow, Agra, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Nagpur, Kolkata and different parts of Bengal, Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati .. Such is the impact.
We had a review section, where members were asked to send their photographs for review and we used to review each single photograph giving them the most of our knowledge in the friendliest possible ways.
(Update(19.01.2014): We could not continue with the review section and then the page became inactive. The return percentage of visitors were hitting more than 97%. After 3 months, we were getting more than 70 unique people sending 3 photographs each, each single day to be reviewed. We could not continue with our quality of review and of help. We discontinued. In the course of this time, I personally made some incredible friends. Few of them are Akshay Kadam from Ratnagiri, Saimantick Bhadra and Siddharth Ghosh from Kolkata (Frank Anthony Public School) who are now like my family members. Many many friends were made and the connections are strong.)
Yes friends, who laughed at the first poster – Such IS THE IMPACT. We all want to learn. Let us not curb any young feeling. We might have had bad examples. But that’s extremely few. I would not say that the entries are master pieces. We all can become better. We require encouragement.
We have NOT set a specific agenda for “Journal of Indian Photography”. It is open to anyone who wants to join. It is open to any idea, you would like to give. It is open to any suggestion for its betterment. If you happen to read this from any part of India, and want to join in, help spread awareness, help share knowledge …feel free to join in.
For a moment, let us not take the short cut.
For a moment let us not laugh at the poster.
For a moment let us just not walk that extra mile to make the difference.
For a moment let us walk that extra mile to “FEEL THE DIFFERENCE”.
It’s an incredible journey, trust me.
Disclaimer : I am not an acclaimed photographer. I work in TCS because I love programming. I’m just another person who refuse to curb freedom.