Saturday, July 26, 2008


I just finished the most intense and draining Workshop in my life, with Antoine D'Agata. He is a controversial photographer but very intense, and very human. He set a very high standard for image making and his interest is in the tension, or conflict in all of us.

Honestly, I feel at home at the Toscana Photo Workshops. I have made a lot of friends and I just wanted to have honest interactions with old friends and somehow capture that as images. But the images were not engaging. I then had to explore being. I started with nude self-portraits in the woods and this simply continued through the week. As the workshop space was too comfortable for me, I spent a night in the fields. And the night I chose was the coldest of the entire week. After the jungles in Singapore during army training, the Tuscan forest was rather plesant. I had some nice surreal portraits from my night in the forest. I saw a pretty sunrise but those images were bland.

But the pushing continued, and I tried to explore my own boundaries, where I want to go and be and where I am unable to. It was very hard, as it meant looking at the conflict in me, but in a week when I felt good. Somehow, I managed to create strong images for this workshop, but I am not putting them up on this blog. The images of conflict do come from me, but it felt more like a conceptual exercise for me because I was in a good place. If I get into a bad place again, I can then work with it as materil for photography. It will not be an exercise like it was this week, because then the conflict would be real. And then, I think I would be more willing to share the images, even if they are challenging, because for me it would come from a place that is meaningful for me.

But I wonder why it is easier to produce engaging images on inner conflict and pain than to create engaging images of happiness. Next week, I intend to attempt that. I will try to capture the essence of peace and happiness in a way that is real, not cliche postcard type stuff. Wish me luck.

And it would be ironic if a bout of conflict hits me next week when I am trying to do hapy pictures, as I had to illustrate conflict in a week I felt warm and safe!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Marrekech - Parting shots

Well, my short journey to exotic Marrakech has ended. It is unusual for me to pampered like I was in Riad Blanc. This is a high end guest house run by the Angsana group from Singapore. Very nice, but pricey. It was fun though to visit Greg Burns and Angie on one of Greg's residencies. So cool.

I think that I only scratched the surface of this bustling city. But I can see from the people on the streets the possibility of many interesting stories in this country and from Africa. I guess that I had fun playing the tourist in search of a sensual feast. But it helped my soul too. It brought me away from the practical reality of working life. It helped me mend a hurt. Marrakech reminded me once again how large this world is and how little I know of it. All I could see was the outer evidence of a people who live in a harsh desert environment and whose faith is Islam. And once again, like when I visited Tibet or even Tuscany, it is hard to comprehend the lives, hopes and dreams of other people.

I guess there are as many realities on this earth as there are people. I will need to keep learning till the day I die.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Marrakech mood

Well. Marrakech is certainly an engaging city. Full of history. And although I have been to other Ismalic places in India, Indonesia and Malaysia, the art work here is different. Definitely part of its African history. There are some very nice and warm people here. But there are also very pushy salesman and beggars on the street. It is luxurious for a tourist like me, but the price is high, comparable to London! The thing is, although some of the things are worth it because I m on a holiday, there are some things that simply are a scam. But I think it was definitely worth the trip here. Maybe the next time I come to Morocco, I should head to Fez instead. I hear it is less touristy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Marrakech - A whole new continent, a whole new world

Marrakech, in Morocco is the first time I have been on the African continent. Everything is new and exotic. I have not processed my thoughts yet. But here are the first images of my trip to the red city.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More London

There are so many books I want to buy in London. Its crazy. I have to hold myself back. But walking around town is cool too. It gets drab and boring but when the light comes out, it is magical.

Scene off Westbourne Grove

Shop on Westbourne Grove

Shop Front, Covent Garden

Tate Modern

Tate Modern

Under the Millenium Bridge

I visited a huge photographic exhibition called 'Street & Studio' - An urban history of Photography. These types of retrospectives are really cool. It forces me to look at the early history of photography, when photographers were using large format, and what it has become today. I was standing in front of these examples of early photography, comprehending how important they are and wondering why they were so boring. The print is flat, a lot of the images are soft. There was a lot of try too hard to be art photos as photographers struggled to gain a validity in art. You know, photographers trying to replicate fine art painting by dressing people up and doing mythical scenes. But nowadays, some art photography, full of ideas, are still boring to me because the execution is practical.

So I think, art photography can be a convenient label at times, but so much of it can be elitist, only for a select crowd of people who enjoy a certain bent of mental stimulation. I guess the other extreme is entertainment of the lowest common denominator, tits and ass titillation. But I guess we all have our own truths. And there are as many realities on this as there are people. How do our realities intersect? What images could I make, that would be meaningful to someone else? Is it enough if my pictures are pretty and sentimental, or do I have to have a rigorous ideology? Boring...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

London 2008

I'm back in London. On the day I left for London, Friday, I received 10 copies of the new version of my book Dance me Through The Dark. Yes, its finally done but delivery will happen in the next couple of weeks while I am in Europe. So I brought a few copies over but unfortunately because of the weight and space, Ella and Zul had to stay back. I could not fit so much into my bags.

Just by chance, Alex who now dances in Nottingham, is working in Selfridges because her company is on a break. I took the opportunity to pass her a copy of the book and get her to sign a copy for me. I am going to do my best to get all the dancers in the book to sign this one copy. But with so many people in different countries, it may proof slightly difficult.

Shop Front, Westbourne Grove

Shop front, Portobello Road

Samuel Beckett Graffiti, Portobello Road

Portobello Road

Portobello Road

High Street Kensington Underground station

Having a cappuccino at Cafe Nero, High Street Kensington

Cranes, Oxford Street

Gloucester Terrace

Something about London that is comforting. A place that I know well and that I enjoy. Walking around Portobello Road and Soho, I am enthralled by 'life'. So many interesting people and ideas. I'm not really a street photographer, but I am inspired to just capture little things that catch my eye.

I found the book 'The Ninth Floor' by Jessica Dimmock. I first saw this work on Media Storm and also posted it on this blog before. It is such an engaging, urgent piece of work. It also makes me wonder how frail we are as humans, how we can so easily be addicted to things that make us senseless to living. I guess living is painful and we all find ways to deal with it. I think Jessica's work is so courageous on several different levels. I'm really inspired to keep exploring the existential question in my own work.