Street Photographers. We’re Fantastic.

We are Preservers of Our Time!

The ancient Egyptians mummified their Pharaohs, preserving the bodies forever, all be it in a somewhat gory manner. Today there is no need for it. Our photographs will help shape history. However, with the glut of pics that flood the net every day, which photos will stand the test of time? This issue has been particularly salient to me this week for two reasons. Firstly, I have had my annual cull as my hard disk was reaching the critical point. The cut tipped 1500 images, a sure sign I need to start slowing down and taking less, but better photos. The second reason history entered my chain of thought is that I have recently visited Tharangini, a traditional block printing company in Bangalore.

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Finished Sari’s are stunning.

Block Printing

Briefly, block printing was invented by the Chinese and was used by Buddhists to create copies of scripture. The Indians adapted this technique for cloth. Blocks of wood are carved into intricate patterns, which are used to stamp and decorate material. As with many traditional trades, this art has been dying. Industry will alway provide cheaper alternatives. There are now only four wood carvers left in Bangalore. Fortunately, there appears to be a revival, and people see the benefits of eco-friendly, fair trading and sustainable companies. Tharangini employs some of the few master block printers that are still in Bangalore. I witnessed the printing of Sari’s, a six-meter-long piece of fabric, which takes half a day to create. But photographing it was not easy.

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Dappled shade, one well lit spot for a candid photo.


Photography Nightmare

By the time I arrived at Tharangini the sun was approaching it’s Zenith. Some of the work was completed outside, some inside (under fluorescent lights), and some in a very open shed-like structure with light beaming in from the outside. It was a lighting nightmare. Did I say I was also helping to manage and teach a group of 12 year olds, all keen to try their hand at the art of block printing? Fortunately I am a Street Photographer, and we can do anything! I set my camera to aperture priority mode, white balance on Auto and fired away. Inside, my aperture was widened and ISO raised, then outside and reversing the process. At the same time trying to get the kids I was teaching out the shot so I had some look of authenticity. Next I would get the kids back in shot, so I would return with some photos the school could use. While all this was going on I even managed to block print my own canvas bag, which is just large enough for my ipad!

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Bright background with no flash. No problem.

Street Photography

While I found myself in a tricky situation, being a Street Photographer helped me get some pretty good pics. We are a tenacious lot, always pushing one another to improve. You can read all the tips you like, but at the end of the day, practice makes perfect. All of you will have some fantastic stories of photos you have taken under diverse conditions, and I would love to hear them. There are Bloggers out there who claim that your photos don’t matter. Well photos do matter. When we take a Street Photograph, we often share a fragment of time with a complete stranger, who we unconsciously bond with as we manage our libraries. You are a preserver of history, a Street Photographer and a hero. Street Photographers, we’re fantastic!

Thanks to Padmini and Tharangini for a wonderful day! You can find out more about them here.

Keep Clicking, Chris

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