A Commute Story

 
Different people react to the ennui of commuting in different ways, and the way children behave is almost always a great source for images. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

Different people react to the ennui of commuting in different ways, and the way children behave is almost always a great source for images. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

Supriya Joshi encourages you to observe and make images of your surroundings on your daily commute.

Every day, we spend hours travelling to various destinations, mostly to our schools, colleges and our workplaces. Going through the same routine commute becomes a mundane activity. However, your cellphone has the ability to transform it into an exciting journey, especially when you think about all the magic that you come across in daily life.

Learn to See
Before you even begin to make photographs, the first step is to start observing your surroundings. Take a look at the harried bus conductor handing out tickets or the children who sleepily wait for their school bus every morning. This will help you identify potential photographic opportunities for the future.

Save the photographs of railway maps as a visual representation of your everyday route. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Save the photographs of railway maps as a visual representation of your everyday route. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Make Photography a Routine
Most of us read books or listen to music while on our commute. Instead, keep a target of, say, ten photographs that you must make while you are travelling. Once you have a goal in mind, it will push you towards shooting actively.

Stick to a Convention…
There are several apps available for your cellphone that emulate the days gone by, at least photographically. You can stick to a particular filter to create your commute story. For example, the Hipstamatic app (available for iOs and Windows devices) sees in B&W and processes the images you make with a vintage touch.

Make portraits of your fellow commuters, as it will give you a new perspective towards everyday life. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Make portraits of your fellow commuters, as it will give you a new perspective towards everyday life. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

…or Go All Out!
Forget about conventions! If you want to add an element of fun to your images, you can use a wide variety of completely crazy apps. Some of these apps include Tiny Planet FX Pro (Android), which adds the unique circular panorama effect to your images, Waterlogue (iOS) which converts your images to a watercolour painting!

Raise your car’s window slightly when shooting in the rain. It protects the device from the rain, and you can slightly lean against the window for added support. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Raise your car’s window slightly when shooting in the rain. It protects the device from the rain, and you can slightly lean against the window for added support. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Reroute to Rethink
To paraphrase Robert Frost’s brilliant The Road Not Taken, “I took the [road] less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Simply applying this thought to your daily commute can make a world of a difference too.

Start your research by checking Google Maps for alternate routes to reach your destination, and every day make your way through different directions. Take a different bus than the one you usually do. This way, you will be able to discover so many subjects you may never have known even existed.

The biggest advantage of photographing with a cellphone is that you can be discerning, without drawing too much attention to what you are doing. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

The biggest advantage of photographing with a cellphone is that you can be discerning, without drawing too much attention to what you are doing. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Be Cameraphone Ready
Everyday moments are fleeting, and to capture them, make sure that your cellphone’s camera is ready to go. If you haven’t already, ensure the camera app of your cellphone is on the main display page. If your cellphone allows it, program a special gesture that will directly switch on the camera app when applied.

Juxtapositions abound everywhere, but only if you pay close attention to them! Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Juxtapositions abound everywhere, but only if you pay close attention to them! Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Maintain a Daily Diary
More than an activity, let your images become a visual diary of your life. You can also set up a Flipagram or Magisto account, and make short videos out of your images. Sometimes, all it takes to get out of a mundane activity is a spark of creativity. Plus, making photographs of your travels will make you observant and appreciative of your surroundings as well.

Every Day is the Same… But it Does Not Have to Be!

  • Start a New Project: In our everyday route, we see the same things over and over again. Use this as an advantage to render same sights differently.
  • Look at Posters: Every Friday, new movie posters replace the old ones Photograph the torn posters for an interesting series.
  • Outside the Window: Keep your cellphone in the continuous shooting mode and point it outside your window to capture fast-moving subjects or fleeting scenes. You can also use your window as a framing device!
  • Shoot at All Times: Photograph the same scene in the morning, evening and afternoons too. The varying light will completely change the mood.

The Zen of Arriving Early and Waiting

You can experience the entire gamut of human emotions in a span of a few minutes while on your travels, but only if you have the patience for it. Whether you are travelling by bus or train, try and get there an hour early. While you are waiting for your bus or train, walk around the station (or bus stop) and photograph other people about their daily commute.

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: Supriya Joshi, travel photography, daily commute, daily routine, everyday, commute photography, september 2014