All your photographs are great (but I have seen them before!)

We often visit places like Old Delhi or Baneras and while looking thru the camera take photographs that feed on the visual vocabulary that we have accumulated over years of going through magazines, books and journals. As we’ve  turned each page some where deep within, we’ve told ourselves that this is how we needed to shoot if we wanted to see our works out there. This leads to responses like, ‘all your photographs are great but I have seen them before, what’s new about them?’

Last evening at Nazar’s ka Adda, Nupur wanted to know if this was correct/right ? (and I, just in-case you’re wondering, was not talking about the way some one’s work was torn to shreds by the constructive criticism)

Here’s my take, most of which I shared with the participants last evening. Lets leave photography aside for a while and talk of some artists, artists that I hope most of us are familiar with: Picasso, Miro and Dali. Picasso became famous for Cubism and other work that I struggle to understand even to this day. Miro the surrealist master whose child like works of art are part of innumerable museums around the world. Dali my favorite, and in my opinion the greatest of all the masters is better known for his melting clocks and other equally evocative surrealist works. (One of my all time favorite photographs is one taken by Dali himself.)

When we study each of their works a little deeper and we find that Picasso too painted realist works, as did Dali and Miro in their initial years. Each one of them began with an all to familiar vocabulary and then went on to create something new.
YES it’s perfectly right to go ahead and take photographs that speak in an imagery that is all too familiar. Nothing wrong with it at all when you start! You go out when you are first beginning to master your camera and challenge yourself with this done-to-death imagery. Once you have mastered it you should get bored and then go ahead and look for a vocabulary of your own. The important thing here is moving on once you have conquered the first level, when the challenge ceases to exist.

You need to give your self time, its not like you’re going to go out there the first time you pick up your camera and come up with a whole new imagery. You need to let the thoughts in your head collect and then ferment till you’ll finally get a whole new imagery that will give both you and your audience a high!

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