Rajiv Chopra: Blog https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Rajiv Chopra (Rajiv Chopra) Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:34:00 GMT Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:34:00 GMT https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u369769603-o555970369-50.jpg Rajiv Chopra: Blog https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog 80 120 Rediscovering Roots https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/rediscovering-roots I have, from time to time, watched a few 'PNC' videos by Brooks Jensen, of LensWork. One that particularly attracted my attention, was the concept of 'perspective'. Or, having a point of view. 

The fact is, that when we point our camera at stuff, we have a point of view. The only problem is that most of the time, when we shoot, we point our camera randomly at stuff. 

What happens then, is that our vision is random. Quite random, and we are not alive to many things of interest. This changes when we decide what we want to look for when we are on the streets, or in the mountains, or whenever. 

This applies to all genres of photography (and, life). We can't be everything, and we can't be everywhere. It is better to have an idea of what you want, and then go after it. This focusses your vision, and allows you to pick up things which you would have otherwise missed. 

The compromise that you have to make, is that you may miss some 'sights'. I shall come to this in a while. 

The second, is a bit of inspiration from a podcast interview on RGGEDU.COM, with a photographer - Brian Smith. 

What Brian spoke about, is going back to your roots, to relive and refresh your photography. 

I started many years ago, shooting black and white film, using my trusted Olympus OM-2n,and only with a 50 mm lens. 

This podcast set me off on a journey. What can I do? Dare I do it? Dare I go back to the constraints of an old camera and just a 50 mm lens? 

Combining the two, I thought of going back to the streets, shooting 'men at work', with my Olympus OM-2n. 

There will be one slight difference compared with my humble beginnings. I will take my point and shoot camera as well, as many people you shoot like to see what you have shot. It is a great way to bond.

Now, coming back to the aspect of 'point of view'. I will miss street signs, street art, much of street food etc. It does not matter. They would be a distraction. 

Having a point of view, is critical. 


(Rajiv Chopra) life men of perspective photography point roots streets view work https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/4/rediscovering-roots Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:33:35 GMT
The Dance Of Shiva https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/the-dance-of-shiva  

The Dance of Shiva, as I call this.

This is an old picture, taken at the Elephanta Caves in Bombay (Mumbai). Some of the best temple carvings I have ever seen.

I edited this, with the finishing touches being given inAlienSkinExposure. Click the link to check it out. I am an affiliate, but that is not the reason I am recommending this. It really is superb, as an editing software


In the meanwhile, let Shiva dance his graceful dance. He is also known as Nataraja, which means, “The Lord of the Dance”

(Rajiv Chopra) alienskin bombay carvings cave caves dance elephanta india metaphors mumbai photography shiva https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/the-dance-of-shiva Fri, 02 Feb 2018 04:59:57 GMT
Why Did I Start Photography? https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/why-did-i-start-photography

This is an old picture. A very old picture, and very unintentionally, bokeh in nature. You can make out that this was shot using black and white film. this is still a medium that I use occasionally. I would probably shoot exclusively in black and white film, except that it is difficult to get film in India, and it is also a bit difficult to have it processed. Still, I may set up my own dark room one day. Lets see

However, this does not answer the question - why did I start photography? 

The reasoning, even by todays distance, is specious. 

I had started working in a steel mill, and we used to work six days a week. The seventh day would pass by in a flash, because on the Saturday night, we would normally get sloshed, or pickled, and by the time would come around for us to pick up the pieces of our former selves, we'd be back at work. It was a rather mindless existence, I would say; and, one that many people choose. 

One night, when the gentleman in the picture above was rather more pickled than he should have been, he collapsed. It was past midnight, and two of us had to pick him up, and take him back to the set of bachelor pads that we all shared. We had these single room flats, or apartments, that had been allotted to us by our company, and we shared them, two people to a flat. 

I made the mistake of sitting at the back, with his head on my lap, and had to go through the experience of him vomiting all over me during our journey back. 

When we got back, I looked down at myself, and asked myself if I had done five years of engineering college, at one of the best in India, just to be vomited on. 

Try as I might, I could not find the justification for continuing this mindless existence, and so vowed to clean up. Which, I did. 

The question now was - what should I do with the free time that I had. More importantly, it was time that was free to me in a sober state!

My older sister was an artist. My younger sister had disappeared to the USA to study architecture. My mother is the one from whom all arty influences sprang in our family. So far, I had not shown any inclination towards that direction, and now I resolved to rectify this. 

I could not, and cannot, draw to save my life. After much cogitation, I decided on photography. A camera cost five months of my monthly income, and my dad was kind enough to give me the money. 

So, I toodled off to the streets of Bombay, in an area called 'Fountain'. There, I found, and bought my first SLR. An Olympus OM-2n. I love that camera, and still have it. 

The next, was to decide the medium. Since I could not afford colour, I decided to opt for black & white photography. 

I consider myself fortunate in falling in love with photography, as well as black & white photography. 

If the gentleman above had not vomited on me, who knows what I would have ended up as? 

(Rajiv Chopra) & black bombay cameras india lessons life life's meaning metaphors olympus perception photography purpose streets white https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/why-did-i-start-photography Wed, 29 Nov 2017 04:56:22 GMT
In The Hush Of Stillness https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/in-the-hush-of-stillness

This post has been inspired by my good friend, and wonderful writer, a young lass, who goes by the name of Morgan.

I am also going to use a modification of an image I posted long ago.

Dusk, at Khusrau Bagh, in Allahabad. The word, ‘Bagh’, in this context, means ‘garden’. With a slightly different pronunciation, it means ‘tiger’.

Khusrau is the unfortunate son of Jehangir, the fourth Mughal Emperor, and brother of Khurram, who became Shah Jahan, of the Taj Mahal fame.

As was the practice in those days, the sons would jostle for power. Khusrau aligned with Nur Jahan against Shah Jahan, and rebelled against his father.

He was blinded by his father for his efforts, and later killed by Shah Jahan (Prince Khurram, as he was called before he became Emperor).

When you enter Khusrau Bagh, you pass through the railway area, with the chaos of the Indian traffic, and the cacophony of the blaring horns, and yelling men; as well as the dirt and muck that is accompanied by public Indian life.

On entering, you pass into a realm of tranquility, and you can watch the sun go down, as Khusrau sleeps in peace.

At that point, if you allow yourself to breathe deep and silence your mind, you can feel the hush of stillness

You can feel the hush of stillness, as the centuries roll by and the earth continues its cycle around the sun, unconcerned by the comings and goings of men. This too, shall pass.

We rise, we fall. Yet, the hush of stillness is there, waiting for us, if well allow it to enter us.

It is in this stillness that we are at one with ourselves, and with the universe.

If, in these rare moments, we allow ourselves to click the shutter, or put pen to paper, we do our best work. It becomes effortless.

There is no force. No striving,

Only being.

When we feel the hush of stillness, we come alive to the universe, and our work can reflect just a tiny bit of this connection.

(Rajiv Chopra) eternity india life metaphors mughals perception photography stillness vision work https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/in-the-hush-of-stillness Sat, 07 Oct 2017 11:16:04 GMT
Why Photography? https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/9/why-photography This may be a strange question for a post. However, I think it is a pertinent one. This may be a strange question for my first post on this site and, it is still a pertinent one. 

Some of you may know - or may not - that I spent most of my working life in the corporate world, and I still do a little bit of advisory work. Most of my work now, is in photography, writing and setting up a media business. This is where I will go in the future.

Anyway, I have been in discussion to do some advisory work for a chap, and they wanted me to be their spokesperson. That is, until some of his team saw photographs of me, on Facebook, taking photographs. This shook them, and they hinted that it would  be nice if I would tone down / give up my photography, especially since I am not yet a big name photographer. The image of me in a studio did not convey the requisite amount of seriousness. I took umbrage at this, and declined.

So then, I asked the question - why photography?

When I was in my teens, my desire was to go to the USA, and do my PhD in corrosion. For a variety of reasons, that did not happen. While 'chatting' with Merilee Mitchell, I mentioned that, if indeed I had gone to the US, I may not have turned to photography. She disagreed, and said that either which way, photography would have found me.

So, here I am, with a camera. I do indeed sometimes dress like a complete ruffian when I am out with my camera, and this is cool. I like to be comfortable. The memory of suits and ties has not gone, and while I don't object to them, I no longer feel the need to wear them everyday.

So, why photography? I can't answer this in one post, so maybe I will split it over the next few posts.

Briefly, photography, for me, is life. It is life, as I perceive it. Now here, i am talking of my personal projects, and not stuff I may do commercially. There was a time when I would shoot randomly. As I grew, I started to think about this more consciously. Then, less consciously. Then, more consciously again.

The choice of my subjects has changed over time, and the way I shoot and edit has changed as well. It will change again over the next twenty years and, I intend to remain fit, so that I can photograph.

But, to repeat, simply - photography is one of the two ways (the other is writing) that I perceive the world. 

And that, is why photography.


Photograph taken in the Chandni Chowk area of Delhi.

In the middle of the night.

Homelessness, sadly, is a fact

If you look very carefully, you will see the homeless people on the pavement.

Revellers walked the streets not 20 metres from where they slept.

It's not a pretty picture. The elbow of the chap next to me has made its way into the frame. You can barely see the second person, as he lay in the darkness.

The old man sat there in the light of the neighbouring shops, as they did good business.

Sad, yes?


(Rajiv Chopra) delhi homeless india life metaphors perception photography poverty question https://rajivchopra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/9/why-photography Sun, 17 Sep 2017 13:11:16 GMT