Amit Mehra: Street Photography Then & Now
Since the last few years, I believe we have been slowly seeing the fading away of the genre of street photography. It’s tragic, I think, as the street has been the training ground of almost every documentary photographer of repute. I like street photography because it encapsulates so many genres within itself. It may tell you about a place, make a social comment or even be an exercise in design.
Instead of a prolonged engagement with one subject where one’s mind starts controlling one’s vision, on the streets, you can respond instinctively. No preconceived notions… photography for the sheer joy of it. It’s got a lot to do with the fact that editorial and publishing in India have suffered. I remember the Monday Diary column that the legendary S Paul did in The Indian Express in the 70s and 80s… one great street photo printed large. We would wait for it every week. Sadly that respect within newspapers seems to have vanished. The internet, as a viewing medium, almost forces us to consume multiple images together. Maybe one should create alternate viewing spaces, online. Modern-day small cameras, and now phones, are great for street work. It is tempting to dream of a resurgence. But for that, a change in our mindset is necessary.
Constantly trying to walk on a tightrope between commercial and documentary photography, Amit describes himself saying, “I’m like an octopus who likes to deal with different things at the same time. You can call me a schizophrenic photographer.” The moments in this monthly diary are excerpts from his ongoing work titled ‘Roznaama’.Tags: Amit Mehra, Cellphone Diaries, cellphone photography, december 2014