Realisations on Contrasts and Change


“Mumbai is a city of grit, grain and contrasts… a place of black and white, and shades of grey...”__K Madhavan Pillai

I love Mumbai. It struck me on my second day at photokina, in Cologne, Germany. More than being home to my family, my team, and Better Photography, Mumbai is a city of grit, grain and contrasts… a place of black and white, and shades of grey in between. There are almost no straight lines in Mumbai. Mumbai is life, in its very essence because it is a city of dreams in which the fight to survive is very real. Most of Germany, on the other hand, is cleaned, smoothened, pixel-mapped. It is all about uncompromising rules and astonishingly straight lines that seem almost casually thrown in, but is meticulously planned. The reason why German quality is the stuff of legend is because everything needs to be measurable, quantified, timed, and then slightly understated.

I have always enjoyed my visits to the country. But this time, I could not help thinking that Germany seemed so digital and India so analogue. At photokina, of the hundreds of stalls, only two were based on traditional photography. The others boasted about their prowess with digital imaging. Ironically, the best photo galleries there showed images shot on film. I will be the first to admit that digital photography certainly has its advantages. But it does not stop me from getting nostalgic, thinking of the time spent in my darkroom, mixing chemicals, switching the safety lamp off and on, rocking trays… just to get a few good prints. What I saw at photokina confirmed what I suspected. In professional digital photography, there will be those who survive by investing and reinvesting in path-breaking, fantastically expensive technology. The rest would be made up of those who can put themselves out on the very edge of being, physically or mentally. For most of us, photography must remain a hobby, a passion, a way to express, to share moments, or just for capturing memories.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: K Madhavan Pillai, Editor, black and white, Editorial, Photokina, Germany, Digital Photography, cologne, Better Photography magazine, november 2012, Contrasts and Change, traditional photography, capturing memories