Every Sunday at 7am or some equally ungodly hour, members of the Mumbai Weekend Shoot, or MWS, meet to take pictures when they could have been asleep. They do this voluntarily, some coming from as far away as Nerul for gatherings in Colaba’s Sagar Upavan, Mahim Nature Park or Elephanta Caves, and they tend to linger long after the last shots have been taken.
At 427 members and 24 meets since the club started in September, MWS is probably the city’s largest and most active photo group—because camera buffs across Mumbai, from cellphone camera users to tripod-toting professionals, are using photo-sharing sites such as Flickr to seek out fellow hobbyists in the city.
“I’m not the kind of person who will wake up and travel across the city to shoot alone,” says Riddhi Rathi, a software engineer when she’s not moderating the MWS group on Flickr. “But when I know that I’ll be out with people, I’m so excited. I hardly sleep the previous night.” Fellow moderator and human resources professional Paromita Deb Areng stays up late too. She’s usually fiddling with photo manipulation software or fashioning home-made reflectors for her group to practise portraiture. “I just wanted to shoot with people who shoot,” she says. “The criticism comes from those who were actually there with you.”
It’s this kind of opinion sharing that’s making photography as much a social exercise as a creative one. Queries are addressed during meets. Members are encouraged to upload their best shot and discussion forums make it mandatory for a photographer to comment on someone else’s work before the favour can be reciprocated. Ramesh Kumar, who manages the Fotography and Fun Club, explains that sharing tips with peers is more exciting than taking instructions from an expert. “Sometimes, even a novice has a point of view,” he says. “This way you develop your skills at your own pace.”
The pace was manic at the Mumbai Photo Marathon in April 2007. Advertising executive Kapil Bhatia and friend Nirav Mehta decided the city needed a photo walk on the lines of those held in Germany and the US. So 25 photographers made their way from Juhu to Dadar’s flower market, Siddhivinayak Temple, Haji Ali, Flora Fountain and Kala Ghoda before winding up at the Gateway of India. The duo plans to host another marathon after this year’s monsoon.
“Nobody comes to these clubs to be the next Atul Kasbekar,” says Bhatia. Rather, members find the clubs have sharpened their skills without them having to pay a course fee. Deb Areng has started noticing details herself. Kumar speaks of symmetry, capturing expressions and reading more into a picture. Rathi finds that the meets let her see parts of the city she’d have missed otherwise. “Plus, you don’t get ripped off,” says Bhatia. “People give you tips on whether you should wait for the lens prices to fall and who has the best deals on camera equipment.” That friendships develop alongside pictures is a bonus.
To join a club, you can choose from the options below:
Fotography and Fun— Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Passionate Photographers of Mumbai— Call Vivek Tewari (9820616443)or email email@example.com
The Photography Club of Mumbai— Call Shirish Barodia (26041081/ 26462691).
Mumbai Photo Marathon— Call Kapil Bhatia (9820331910) or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Mumbai Weekend Shoot— Call Riddhi Rathi (9819319090) or email mumbaiweekendshoot@gmail. com
All groups can be found on www.flickr.com. Registration is free but membership of a group depends on the administrator’s approval.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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