20 Jan 2011

Dinshaw Wachha Road

A chilly morning, a couple of weeks back, I got up early in the morning to speak about street photography to a class of students who were studying to become journalists or join advertising.

Photography is one of the subject taught to them and their teacher is a young girl named Tunali Mukherji. She's young, but her work is good and she can be a tough teacher to please. Having graduated from the same college some years back, she knows exactly how to handle students.

Expecting to be greeted by yawns early in the morning, I had put together a presentation using images from this blog. I spoke to them about the methods, equipment and skills that are needed to click pictures on the streets of India. Tips they could use in a photography project they had to submit as part of their course. However, the talk drifted to a discussion about a more fundamental subject. That of story telling.

The beauty about Indian streets is that there are a billion stories out there. And in a sardine-packed city like Mumbai, you point a camera is any direction and a few stories litter the background. But most of us are ill-equipped to spot the story, even people who tell stories for a living. Many of the students who would go on to become journalists, didn't follow news or read newspapers. We don't travel, read or search for good books, seek fresh sounds or music or experiences. According to the students, the students from smaller towns look and discover things about Mumbai, Mumbaikars know all the filmy gossip. (Who spins those stories?)

There is a big advantage if you are a good story teller. You can make attention grabbing power point presentation to impress your boss. The VC will listen to you if you have a software programming idea. Stories from the most boring textbooks, which are the few books Indian parents allow their children to read, can become a best seller in the hands of a an expert storyteller. All the successful godmen and godwomen in India mint crores retelling mythological stories.

To become a story teller, one has to be receptive to stories, and in India it's all around you.

Finally, photography, especially street photography is just one of the several thousands of ways to tell stories. How do you want to tell your stories? And what's stopping you?


JabalporeJack said...

I think the stories I see around me in a different city have changed -with the years and with the city I lived in. I have started writing about it and toy with a small camera at times when I feel unable to write it down. Mostly, it is inertia after the normal day job that makes me not want to see the story.

Slogan Murugan aka M S Gopal said...

True Jabalpore. But what I was trying to say is that telling a story well helps you at your work too. Whatever it is.

Paresh Palicha said...

Pranamam Guru! You make it all sound so easy... I've heard RGV once say anyone interested in stories can direct films.

I feel sorry for those students who think journalism, writing, photography etc. can be taught in school. Someone like you should make them understand that school can only equip them with tools to enhance what is already inside them. :-)

ramani said...

good write-up, gopal. i enjoy reading the notes you append to your pictures.
the students are lucky they got you to talk to them about photography. encourage some of them to go to the hinterland - we have stories too!

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