THE ORGANIC PHOTOGRAPHER
THE ORGANIC PHOTOGRAPHER5 mins 545 5 mins 545
In a world over crowded with smartphone wielding population, the organic photographer that we once so craved for is somewhat lost in the oblivion. What remains though are the tainted pictures in the old family albums, a memorabilia from the bygone era. Sitting at a quiet corner near The Gateway of India, an ace photographer of his time, Ratnakar Khare (name changed upon request) watches the herd as they flash their expensive tiny little smartphones and capture almost everything that whizzes past them. The maestro sips his tea as it drizzles and watches in disgust as a group of young crowd pose for selfies. Another young couple pass on their cell phone to a bystander and request him to take a click as they pose against the backdrop of a setting sun. Though the sunset provides a perfect backdrop for the posing couple, there’s something missing. The Midas touch of an experienced lensman who has honed his craft over the years and believes in manually adjusting the settings to take a proper shot. He mumbles ‘You need to know what to keep and what not to keep in a frame’ and continues sipping his tea.
Khare vents his ire on the tea seller for not adding the right amount of sugar but what’s brewing inside is with the advent of new age technology, smart solutions have come up quite smoothly but the finesse of the craft is overshadowed by quick fix solutions. Khare wipes his glass clean and tells the man next to him that every picture tells a story and the positioning of the subject is not correct. The stranger clueless about what Khare said ignores him and looks the other way around. The ‘Rule of Thirds’ may not be relevant to the man with the phone but to Khare, it is the essence of a frame that impacts the soul of the photograph, something that needs to be preserved. He had greyed his hairs travelling every nook and corner of Mumbai and has covered almost every possible occasions that a photographer in his time could have done. His mastery in his craft and his knowledge in photography could surely put the best of the smartphone wielding nerds to shame but today, he watches in awe the alarming rise of these self-proclaimed photographers flooding the Instagrams, the Twitters and the Facebooks and wonders where is it heading to.
Commuting from one end of Mumbai to another with a Nikon DSLR in his backpack, Khare still feels that his days are not over yet. With the same amount of zeal and zest, he unpacks his stuff, fixes his lenses, attaches the battery grip and rises to the occasion every time, he spots a tourist, be it an Indian or a foreign national. What keeps him going? Is it the dire need for money for his livelihood or his confidence to make a place amongst the new age clueless shutterbugs? Whatever could be the reason, as I watched this guy closely over a few days, I noticed that he never shied away from making an effort. The sheer dedication was evident. He stands firmly near Gateway of India wearing the countless rejections from tourists and bystanders as his badge of honour but the smile and enthusiasm on his face has never mellowed down nor did it wear out on his next attempt to woo the tourists.
I managed to have a quick chat with him after a long day and all he had to say is ‘There is still hope. Live one day at a time. BELIEVE and make an attempt’. So subtle, yet so awe inspiring. What amazed me, are the photographs he had taken over the last few months and I bet a million pearls on this. Each one of them are priceless. We exchanged numbers and stayed in touch. He always spoke of creating a masterpiece at the backdrop of the majestic sea, his longing for the monsoons and capturing the tiny tots playfully wade through the water clogging on the streets, his audacity to venture into the restricted space with absolutely no permit and then apologizing with a polite sorry when caught. Not once did he express regret over his choice of profession neither did he have an iota of doubt that he is not the best. Indeed he may have been outnumbered but not written off yet.
A rendezvous with Khare at an old coffee shop in South Mumbai was an exhilarating one. As always cheerful and enthusiastic, he greeted me with a huge smile and a warm hug and showed me his masterpiece, that he so yearned for. The sea looked majestic in his backdrop and so did his subject in the foreground. Complete justice to the photograph and yes it did tell a beautiful story. The masterpiece was indeed a mesmerizing one. He also showed me a few photographs that were published in magazines and had somewhat improved his financial status. He wielded a new Nikon DSLR now and handled it with utmost care like a new born. Khare now works with a leading agency and is their star photographer. Yes he does rub shoulders with the young guns and teaches them a thing or two but makes it a point to visit Gateway of India and take some pictures and stays connected to his roots.
The organic photographer leaves a message behind that ‘There is still hope. Live one day at a time. BELIEVE and make an attempt’.