Photography can never be without a purpose. It is a form of art and, in common with the other forms of visual and performing arts, it remains a medium of communication. It involves an emotional as well as a mental engagement of the photographer with his or her subject. A successful photographer starts with gathering information about his subject and in trying to understand it. The essential characteristics that define the subject need to be isolated. The understanding arrived at is sought to be communicated through the medium of a photographic image to the viewer. The graphic quality of the image imparts a beauty to the end product that seeks to share the unique impressions of the photographer about the subject with the viewer.
The purpose of an image boils down to the reason why a particular image was recorded. Through appropriate timing, a well recognised subject can be made to appear in an unusual form that is thought provoking. That is also the context where a caption can engage and lead the viewer towards the thought process behind the capturing of that image. For instance –
“Ashamed of herself for letting the population of the Asiatic lions drop to some 400 odd? She need not be, because her lack of fertility is not the cause. Instead it is the loss of habitat to the ever expanding human population and the poachers that are to be blamed for their sad plight.”
However, the photographer is not always around to provide the captions or to explain his specific reasons for taking a particular photograph which, as a standalone product, should ideally be complete in itself. The story telling capacity of the image by itself ought to be such that the viewer is able to comprehend the story even in the absence of any oral or written explanation provided by the photographer.
These workers were gathering lotus stems from the lake for supply to the local market as vegetables. Hard labour in a pristine and a colourful environment was attempted to be captured in this photograph. It is pleasant to look at and hopefully captures the story of these people toiling away for their meagre livelihoods in a gorgeous workplace, whose beauty they may not have the time or the inclination to appreciate.
This hyena was stalking flamingoes but they saw him coming and took off in the air. Unfortunately, he did not have the requisite wings to continue the chase. Emotionally, such situations are a bit confusing. You feel happy that the flamingoes escaped a violent death, but at the same time you feel sad for the poor hyena, having missed its potential meal, has to go back hungry. The small island, the disappointment of the hyena sharply rendered, the flamingos flying off into the distance and out of focus. All these elements are expected to work together to tell the eternal story of the hunter and the hunted on the African savannahs.
The evening sun provides a warm glow to the spectacular mountains forming the background, and together with the cold desert sands in the foreground it constitutes a formidable natural barrier. The camel caravan passing through this bleak landscape is an attempt at overcoming such physical challenges. The effort is at storytelling, through the medium of a photographic image, to reconstruct a bygone era of long distance caravan trade across deserts and mountain ranges.