Belliteru 2013 was as chaotic and crowded as ever. But what sets it apart is:
- The lovely chill in the air makes people look fresh and sometimes even get into some warm clothes unlike warm weather which makes subjects weary.
- The colours. Who can deny the diversity of colours in Indian fairs!
- The motifs and traditional designs around traditional fairs bring in cultural elements
- The location of belliteru is very interesting. It happens around a very huge circle, say of diameter 50-75 metres with temples located along the circumference. So, the backdrop of any image turns out to be picturesque.
- Varieties of sources of light: from petromax, to LED lights to tungsten...every other shade is available for us to play with after sunset
From my experience of street photography, I have made some thumb rules for myself and would like to share it with you all here:
- Donot look professional. Dress like a commoner (in fact, dress "boring" in my opinion, and not in professional vests) nor carry any equipment. Just the basic camera body and one lens that suits the need (mostly wide angle). Else you will attract undue attention from the crowd.
- Try not to use flash. Reason 1: It removes the sanctity of the scene. Reason 2: It attracts attention.
- Keep moving through the crowd. Donot station yourself at one place. You'll have trouble mongers watching you.
- When you notice unruly guys, donot look in their eye. Just move on. Remember, its you who is carrying expensive equipment.
- Donot move in large groups. 2-3 people is ideal. Co-ordination becomes a big problem in larger groups.
- While taking pictures of kids, first befriend the parents. Casually take their approval to take photos of kids.
- While taking pictures of adults, donot directly aim at the face of a total stranger. It can lead you to trouble. First acquaint with a smile, shoot what they are selling, get them comfortable and then move to individuals. Usually showing them the image encourages them to start posing better, or to see it from your point of view.
- Kids 10-14 year olds are the easiest subjects. They are more than willing to pose. Its usually requests from them like "Akka, akka, nandu ondu photo" that makes me look at them as subjects.
Here are my favourite images from the event:
Melancholy amidst chaos:
Fortune seeker: I found that woman's expression very intriguing here
Where is my childhood: This kid who is a balloon seller was more interested in the toys being sold by somebody else even when its bustling business time for him.
Steaming petromax: The steam from the groundnuts was well lit by the light from the petromax. Also, the atmosphere spoke well of the fair.
Sweet juice from the wheel of life: Shot this at 1/8sec to get the wheel motion.
Glitter glitter: Two varieties of sources of light and one uniform yellow metal to reflect that
World on the tip of my fingers: Again low shutterspeed to get the motion of the ball. The kid was thrilled to pose for the camera.
Calm mind surreal eyes: This woman was very keen on posing for the camera. Just one image I showed to her as feedback, then she positioned herself to face the camera better. This was on thindi beedhi which is full of tungsten lamps. PP work could not restore the original colours. And co-incidentally, BW seemed to work better.
Turbaned old man: His age and experience shows in the depth of his eyes.
Steaming akki rotti: Just in time when water was being sprinkled on the empty part of the pan
Dusky glory: Lucky that I found this empty space in the foreground to show the dimension of the crowd. Otherwise, the crowd had to be captured from an elevation, which is close to impossible on this street. It was very hard to find empty pockets like this.
Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed the pics. Most of these images were shot after sunset at high ISO ranging from 640 - 1000. So I have chosen those that are special in some way technically.