ScrollStack Academy MasterClass on City Photography was held on January 7, 2121. Photoblogger Gopal M Sukumara, who has been documenting the streets of Mumbai for over a decade, shared tips for beginners, focused on the process of storytelling and talked about how to use photography to document places.
Here's a brief of the MasterClass:
The ascendency of digital media
Digital media has helped us stay connected, and given us a space to share: our work, thoughts, ideas. Moreover, it has made photography democratic. "Through the use of internet I can put my point of view across without any gatekeepers – someone telling me whether I'm good or bad," Sukumara said. "This has been the journey of most creators in the last 20 years. We take baby steps online, we observe, and we are able to share our work."
The feedback, often, is immediate.
Basics for beginners
Shoot a lot!
The truth about writing, illustrations, blogging, and even accountancy is the more you do, the better you get. So the first rule of photography is, shoot a lot.
Digital cameras have made this affordable as well.
Make it a habit
"They say the first 10,000 images are where we learn, and after that you become an expert," Sukumara said. "It's a cliche but it's also true."
The habit is that of carrying a camera – with a mobile, you always have a camera with you. It will soon become a reflex.
Photography is technology-driven, and experimenting is not limited to gear and lighting, but also includes how you amplify your work. How to take your work to people.
You should also experiment with storytelling.
Listen, observe and discover your sixth sense
When you experiment, you automatically start to listen to people. "Until I picked up a camera, I was a typical advertising guy," Sukumara said. "What the camera did was make me less selfish and actually listen to people."
Focus on what you love to do
Once you start observing and clicking, you realise what interests you. In Sukumara's case, it's street photography. Then you go deeper into it and focus on just that.
Stories and patterns
What survives is what's long term. How does one balance the instant (eg, Instagram) with the long term? This is where identifying patterns comes in.
There's a process to storytelling. The process of stories in street photography is patters. At #IndianTideLine for instance, Sukumara tells the stories of tides – showing how humans interact with the sea, and also climate change.
Mumbai is full of stories, and Sukumara looks at it in layers: from the point of views of different people. "If I put myself in the shoes of an old person, I'll look at the city in a very different way," he said.
City photography starts by walking around and experiencing.
On the opposite spectrum, Sukumara also did a series from the point of view of children of Mumbai.
"You have to see things that others don't," he said. "When you see the world through a viewfinder, it somehow changes. You see details that you may have overlooked since the camera forces you to focus."
Watch the full MasterClass here.
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