I must personally admit initially when i started out expolring my passion for street photography i was very shy as a person and i always thought it’s not polite to photograph unknown people. I always wondered how do street photographers take photos of complete strangers without permission and not get punched in the face?
Taking pictures of strangers can sometimes be intimidating. Indeed it takes some guts to grab a camera, head out in the streets, and start snapping away at complete strangers. And for the bashful person like me it was very difficult besides that there were times when i was not inspired at all , which made it even more inconvenient for me to go out on the street and shoot.
Grappling to stay focused on street photography at the back of my mind i always knew that the only way out this situation was to learn the techniques to overcome this fear and keep glued to street photography. It took me less than year to overcome the fear of shooting strangers pictures usings different techniques and some tip from masters in the field. During this process of schooling myself somewhere the shy photographer in me obeying the broadly accepted rules of street photography unknowing still looked for alternate harmless subjects for shoot other than strangers. Subjects like shadows ,self portraits, urban landscape and animals were common . And it was around a year and half i noticed that there are many animals on the street stray & pets in India. Specially dogs and they were literally everywhere i lived or traveled, from Ladakh to Hampi. Even in my neighborhood in Mumbai. For me they indeed served as good subject for street photography kind i was intrested in. Firstly they din’t care being clicked , Secondly they din’t got conscious after noticing me or my camera and just left the scene . And finally i was no longer afraid pointing camera at people aswell. So i thought why not start a photoproject . Also by that time i already had some decent pictures of them so it was quite obvious for me to continue capturing these dog moments and documenting life around them .So that’s how it started.
Dogs in India,Yes they live virtually everywhere. Wherever cities or villages exist, especially where the local human population allows. Street dogs may be pets or strayed or are simply allowed freedom by their owners . Alternatively, they may never have had an owner. The size of stray dog populations always corresponds to the size and character of the human population of the area. Street dogs may be stray pure breeds, true mixed-breed dogs, or unbreed land races such as the Indian pariah dog. Street dog overpopulation can cause problems for the societies in which they live. Rabies–a fatal disease which can be transmitted to humans. Also Dog bites,barking & howling counts to nuisance created by them. On Other hand keeping Pet dogs is new in the country for some obvious reasons whether simply for style statement or help to forget the stresses and strains of everyday life ,They also provide companionship for people who live alone.Labrador , doberman and German shepherd were among the commons on the street . Nowadays Pug ,husky and Puddle etc also can be easily seen.
Stray dogs or pet dogs ,street photography or not street photography ,Shy me or not this project has brought me very close to dogs and also helped me to improve my photography in huge way. It gave opportunity to explore, think out of the box , improve composition and lose myself in the moment while photographing. Is this the completely unique project ? well, no . Recently i also found out about the Humorous, heart warming and brilliant photographs collection of dogs from all walks of life, and all over the globe by- great Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt’s it is indeed inspiring set.
In Conclusion, what i believe is if there is ever a point in when shooting in the streets is no longer fun for you, you should probably stop and pursue some other type of approach. Let your own interests lead your street photography. Don’t really care what types of projects other photographers may be pursuing. After all, what is interesting (and fun) to them may not be interesting or fun to you. It’s all about liberating the creative soul of the whole genre. Listen to constructive criticism, learn from the masters and everyone else. If people tell you what you are doing isn’t “street photography” just ignore them. But do yourself and the community a huge favor just go out, have fun, and pursue the type of street photography you enjoy. At the end make interesting powerful images.
About Neenad Arul
Neenad Arul is a self taught Street & Documentary photographer born in Mumbai. Former Computer Network engineer by profession. Now he focuses his creativity on exploring the hidden emotions and art on streets through photography. A curious spectator in the true, open-air theater of the streets. Through his work, he constantly tries to transcend the banality of everyday life. [Official Website]