What Photography Means to Me

Darjeeling Railway. Photograph/Gopal M S

Darjeeling Railway. Photograph/Gopal M S

This article was originally published in August 2014.

My first love was trains. Ever since I can remember, I was obsessed with anything to do with trains. Railway timetables were my favourite books. I memorised the names of stations, trains, and their numbers. It helped me discover my other love—maps.  Life is what happened between summer holidays when I got the chance to travel by train. 

The train window became the frame through which I first saw the world outside. Square Instagram-like frames with bars across them. The places, the people at the stations going about life, observing how the private lives of people come out in the open on railway platforms and in the trains and a lot more. Before the arrival of the internet, rail fanning was a very personal hobby.

When internet arrived in India, one of the first things I searched for was photographs and information about trains. And when I heard about digital cameras, one of the main reasons I wanted it was to shoot images of trains and share it on rail fan bulletin boards online. I think one of the first images I shot with a digital camera was in the crowded Malad station in Suburban Mumbai hoping to put it on an Indian Railway Fan site. It was dark and I was toggling with the manual settings to get the perfect blur to bring alive the madness. That was the moment when the magic of the photography overtook my love my trains. 

Photography to me became a new window to observe the world without being a part of it. A new version of my earlier love. Looking at people, places, spotting surprising little things, waiting patiently for something big to be seen. From a train’s window, everything was fleeting, with my camera I could capture it all. The trains and the train window taught me to observe the world and photography allowed me to capture it and preserve it for ever. 

About Gopal M S
He is currently a copywriter in the advertising firm Tailor, Mumbai. His blog Mumbai Paused won the inaugural T S Satyan award for online journalism in 2011. He obsessively consumes photographs from different cities all over th eworld and food photography ranks as one of his top favourites in photography genres.

Tags: Mumbai, photography, trains, Gopal M S, world photography day, Darjeeling Railway, Local trains