When Spiderman is your neighbour

If you type humour in google, it will say, ‘Life is short, smile while you still have teeth’. That is funny. But pessimists will say, no no life is hard, life is not funny, it is all about seriousness. I say, why dear…?? Why are you so sad buddy…?? When the world around you is full of fun. Just look up from your smartphones and watch around. Watch the car you use to travel every day, watch the rickshaw which crosses you always, watch the kettle from which you drink tea, it is humour all around us.

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Technology has made life easier and funnier at times. Instagram, an instant photography app for your smartphone, is such a tool which can help you to capture all these light-hearted moments. All the photographs shown here are clicked by smartphones. So lets pick up our eyes from the screen and look for the friend of Spiderman or some frustrated employee with his Jibika (career).

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As they say, smile is the most contagious disease in the world and should be kept away from the vaccination of ego, hatred, jealousy and disappointment.

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So lets capture smile…

Happy Clicking.

Kumortuli – the place where the Gods live beside the humans

Kumortuli or the land of potters, is a small colony of Kumors (Bengalis term for potters) situated in the northern Kolkata just beside the river Ganges. The clay artists of Kumortuli not only masters in making pottery but also have proved their excellence in making clay idols of Hindu gods and goddesses. The existence of the artworks of Kumortuli dates back to 1750s, when the British businessmen colonized India for the first time, and then founded the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) by amalgamating three small villages of Gobindapur, Sutanuti and Kalikata. Calcutta became the first capital of India under the British rule. They grouped the local residents and colonized them based on their traditional professions. Thus came the land of Coomartolly, as it was known then, a colony of Coomars or Kumors, the regional name for those who makes earthen pottery and idols for their living. This legacy of artwork has been going on generations after generations after that.

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Earlier, during the puja days, the families used to invite the Kumors or the artisans to stay in their homes and build the idols there only. Now, they have their own personal studios and quarters to work and idols are supplied to the customers from there only. Their houses where they live itself host the studios. Kumortuli workers are supplying clay idols of Hindu gods and goddesses not only in and around Kolkata, but their popularity have crossed the political boundaries of states and countries and have reached overseas as they now export Durga Idols to cities like New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and many other abroad states. The intricate designs, the delicate decorations and the lively expressions of the clay idols have won hearts throughout the globe. The expertise of the artisans of Kumortuli has turned this place from a mere colony of potters to a phenomenon of earthen artistry renowned throughout the world. Recently, Kumortuli is included in the list of seven wonders of Kolkata.

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The backbone of Kumortuli is the river Ganga, from which they collect their raw material of clay and mud. The life here starts with the mixing of clay and husk in the morning and ends with polishing the finished products at night. Though the artists here are busy throughout the year, but their work hits the pedal 3-4 months before the Durga Puja. A standard idol takes of time of 3-4days, on an average, to be completed, though the time is dependent upon its size. The task of creating an idol starts with making the main infrastructure by bamboo sticks and then wrapping it with layers of dried straw. Then starts the process of applying different layers of clay and sometimes a mixture of clay and husks. The final coating is of a more liquid clay material used for final touch and polishing followed by applying colors and the clothes on the idols.

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By the virtue of its splendid works Kumortuli is now a popular tourist attraction in Kolkata. The art of making idols from the mere bamboo infrastructure to finally giving it a life by painting the third eye on the Durga idols (the Chokkhudan) is which attracts everyone, from youngs to olds, from locals to outsiders and from busy businessmen to some creative photographers. Kumortuli is also very easy to visit as it is connected by bus, auto, tram, metro and also by ferry service across the river Ganga. To be precise, it is situated just in between Sovabazar and Ahiritola.

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Every tourist visiting Kolkata, should at least once walk through the streets of Kumortuli, feel the raw smell of wet clay, watch the skills of the artisan and the memory will surely be a nice one to cherish for long.

Looking forward to your feedback, any constructive criticism is well accepted. Hope you have liked it.

Thank you, and Happy Clicking.

Street Photography – Problems beginners may face and their possible solutions

Hey, welcome you all at Lights_and_words. This is my first post here. This post is all about Street photography, its challenges you may face as a beginner when shooting out in the streets and how to tackle and solve them. I am a photographer and working in streets for some days now though I am not a professional or an expert. Whatever I will share here, is just the way I have experienced and myself being a beginner how I solved them. I hope this will help many others who have just started photographing streets.

Street photography, unlike all other genres of photography deals with direct interactions with the common people out in streets and the environment they belong to. It differs from landscape, macro, travel, product or fashion photography in the way, that it is quite cheap in terms of equipment, gears, travel cost, and other accessory gadgets, and still the most elite and one of the most practiced genres throughout the world. All you need is a camera, be it a point and shoot, a mirrorless, an entry level DSLR, or even a smartphone, whatever, and it will do your job quite effectively. Well, I’m not going to discuss the details of what street photography is, I think it is available in any and every photography site you look into, rather I am going into the problems that a beginner may face while shooting in streets and how to solve them.

1. Should I click..What if they say something…. – The first problem that one generally faces when he/she starts shooting in the streets is the hesitation to click or not. You may fear what others will say, what if they object and beat you up (not really, just joking..!!). Now the best way to get rid of this problem is to know the area, get accustomed to the surroundings, and to do this you have to interact with the local people out there. A tea stall works best in this situation. Go, have a cup of tea, start a friendly gossip with the tea vendor, interact with the other customers, and you will definitely shake off the fear in you. Moreover, this small time at tea stall will give an opportunity to think and observe the area.

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2. “Hello brother, you are from which newspaper..??” – Now this is an inevitable question that each and every street photographer faces. If you try to be smart by answering a newspaper’s name or a tv channel’s name, a lot of questions may come to you, like why this place, what has happened here, when it will be shown on television, and so many. So the best way to handle this is to admit yourself as a student and tell them smilingly that this is your college project and you are just doing a syllabus assignment. Students are generally never questioned and in fact, sometimes admitting them that you are a student, actually helps to mingle with them more easily which may help you get some good shots.

3. Hello Sir/Ma’am, can I take a photograph..?? – Shooting portraits or environmental portraits sometimes are difficult if you do not have a zoom lens. If you try to shoot a portrait with a normal lens you have to go close enough, and then there is every chance to get caught up and hence ruining the moment. So, the possible way to solve this problem is to ask for permission to photograph, make them clear about your motive, that you are here only to photograph as an art and it will not harm anybody. This will help the person be free with you, and you can happily arrange your frame and photograph. If anybody refuses to give permission, never ever get into an argument, give a smile, say thank you, and come back. Keep it as simple as that.

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4. The Curious eyes – Common people on roads have very curious eyes. As long as they are not accustomed to the camera thing, they will look at you as if you are a terrorist with a machine gun and are trying to shoot them. Now again the best way to tackle this is just smile. If you find someone looking curiously towards you, just go and try to begin a conversation in some way or the other. You can start by asking him the time, the name of the place, you can show him some pics, and a smiling thank you at the end. In most of the cases, this will help you out a lot.

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5. Hiding the camera – This is a very bad practice, according to me, while shooting in streets. If you just take a picture, click, then hide it in your bag, again click and hide, then definitely you will look like some spy and people will doubt you. Let the camera be out always, let the people around you be accustomed to the thing.

6. Avoid looking like a pro – Street photographers are just like detectives. They should be invisible within a crowd. So, while shooting streets, it is highly recommended not to carry too much of equipments and gears along with you. A light weight point and shoot camera, or a DSLR with a single lens (depending on your choice; for me its the 50mm prime) can do your job quite well. Also, avoid wearing a noticeable dress. Be on a casual wear to avoid people’s attention.

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7. Respect everyone – Finally, you’ve to show respect to each and everyone out in the streets. Having a costly DSLR doesn’t make you someone superior to them. You are just a common person like anyone out there, only doing your job and nothing else. So irrespective of age, work, or the so-called status, you should pay proper respect to everybody, meet and talk with a smile to everyone. This will make you feel comfortable with them and vice versa.

So, I think I have covered all the major issues that may come up when shooting in streets and as a beginner how to tackle and solve them. Here I have shared only my experiences, whatever I have faced and how I tried to solve them. I hope my little experiences as a street photographer will help out the beginners in this genre.

Looking forward to your feedback, any constructive criticism is well accepted. Hope you have liked it.

Thank you, and Happy Clicking.