I started this project in November 2018 and I still have not finished it. I still don’t have a date for the project’s conclusion. In my project, I was not inspired by a single photographer but by all street photographers who are doing a fantastic job with lights. In fact, lately, I have felt inspired to make even more photos of this type.
This series force me to leave my comfort zone and I am learning a lot from this ongoing project. I have seen some street photographers who forget the soul of street photography – that street is all about candid. It’s my personal opinion, but I say always remember to take inspiration from photographs not from photographers. Why you ask? Nowadays, people tend to judge photographs based on the photographer. If you are famous or renowned, then everybody appreciates your photograph or work, but if you are not famous on a social platform, then people criticise your work, even if you did a great job. This is the worst truth I have seen. That’s why I always remember “Photographs Not Photographers” because according to me, our photographs are our identity.
The Photos that initially made up this project were taken in my city (Gurgaon) and later in Delhi and Allahabad, both towns of India and geographical locations where I got some fantastic lights. Hence the official name of the project, “Artificial Light.” Red, yellow, blue – all lights attract me a lot. And so I have spent my time working on this project before sunrise and after sunset.
Every year, I shoot the Rehearsal of Soldiers and this year I got some amazing shots with light. Beautiful light with soldiers made my project more special for me because I love to shoot soldiers. Soldiers are identity of our Country.
My home is nearby railway lines, this winters I shoot a lot at railway station where I got different lightning condition with human elements. Its little bit tough to shoot railway station because of station security issues but I am lucky I got some amazing shots. It’s a lot of fun for me take to take these kinds of photos from the streets.
You see, to get these shots, I must sneak onto railway property because in my country photography is prohibited in railway stations. But I have been lucky because for the last 22 years, I have lived near a railway station. During that time, I got to know each corner of my city railway station. This was huge in helping me get good shots. I think this is in part because a really important aspect of being a street photographer to first observe, and then shoot. My close proximity allowed me to do that with ease.
Maybe you wonder if it is really worth the risk, though – even with a good knowledge of the area. My answer would be, yes! Shooting at the railway station, and everywhere this series took me so far has taught me that every single step, all the efforts or risks take your work to next level, so you should always give your work your best effort. This series has given identity to my street photography work. And that is big, because some of my shots I photographed in the middle of a railway track, which is very risky. But it was worth it because I got my favourite shot at the railway station, the red light behind a person’s head. In the series as a whole, every photograph plays a vital role in showing your vision to the world so it’s totally worth it. Efforts or risks for the right reasons are always worth it.
When I head out to shoot, first I put my camera on Manual (M) Mode or Aperture Priority (A), then I adjust my camera settings according to the environment. Next, I study the background, the strength of light and what kind of light is present in environment (i.e. warm or cool). Then, I wait for some interesting subject or activity, anything that gives me the most important element of street photography, namely for stories to pass through my frame. To be honest, sometimes I got some over- or under-exposed images while shooting in Manual Mode, but I will manage with little editing.
On other occasions, I like travel and shoot different events taking place in the streets. This year, I had the opportunity to travel Allahabad, India and shoot hot air balloons in blue hour light. This is one of my favorite shots of this project. I won’t deny I was lucky with some shots, like the photo of the man with a halo of red light during the foggy winter at the railway station. This is my most favourite shot. But for me, true Luck is only found if you look for it.
I have learned a lot from my ongoing project of light. These project gives me an identity as a street photographer. I think street photography is all about candid captures and not needing too much editing. I always remember these ethics of street photography.
Recently, I got a good shot on my city bus stand in Gurgaon, India. But now summer has started in my country, which is not good for my series because it depends upon lots of factors like weather, surrounding, light, layers and actions. It’s no easy task to get all these elements in one frame. It takes a lot of time and effort. And since my series is all about lights, winter is the best time of year because light spreads in an amazing way thanks to the fog, which is nonexistent in the summer. Even still, I shoot everyday hoping to get some good shots to add to my ongoing light series.
No matter the time of year, I continue to learn a lot from this series. I would say the most important thing I have learned through this series is consistency. Yes, consistency is the key to good work. This series inspired me to shoot daily on early winter mornings, because after sunrise, the kind of images I’m looking for disappear. And one more thing I’ve learned is this: Always trust your gear. I took my all shots before sunrise or after sunset. I have a Nikon crop body camera with standard 18 – 55mm lens. It’s very slow and sometimes doesn’t focus in the dark, but I believe that my camera will focus every time, in all conditions, no matter what the conditions. My camera is like a frame in my mind, and it captures the same frame my mind envisions. So, always trust your gear.
Finally, always share your work, thoughts and knowledge of photography because we learn from each other. At the same time, always remember: Learn from everyone but follow no one. If you are a street photographer, I just want to say keep working on projects and be an original street photographer rather than a staged street photographer. That kind of purity can make you a great street photographer.