Observing rather than Hunting

These days, I spend too much time behind a camera hunting for pretty pictures, and too little simply documenting what I see around me. The latter is very satisfying, very amateur (in a good way) and largely what I did for ten years before getting slightly more serious about it all. The upcoming project documentary is going to take more observation than perhaps I’m used to these days, but the more observational work I do meets a positive response - The Council Estate and just yesterday, The House - and it’s all good practice for the big project. I’ve spent a lot of time in Pondicherry since I was a baby, and there’s a familiarity which prevents me wandering around as I might in a new town or city. So much of this place is tied to my family and its history, that I’m looking at my own family more closely, even as I’m stared at in the street… Christina found a splendid internet cafe last time she was here, and where I sit right now, and of course the people here know my family, don’t they? Pretty much everyone and anyone in the ashram knows Atma, my eldest cousin, and ashramites all know each other anyway. So I’m being observed too, as it happens, and noting that, I’m off to photograph the derelict patch of land that my father and his two brothers have owned since the 1960s.

Generating Ideas

I have never had a problem coming up with ideas on what to pursue, shoot or study next, the problem is in taking on too much. I am forever running out of bandwidth, or at least I was until a few years ago when I decided to try and focus on fewer things, start saying no to things that were only marginally interesting and saying no to people more often. You have to, otherwise you’ll get nothing done.

Ideas come from exercising the grey matter, thinking and reading; The London Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Economist all come into the flat and are great online. Tiny bits of local news find their way into my notebooks and emails go flying out - “Can I come and meet you?” and replies wing back, “Yes of course!” People are friendly and helpful, if you show an interest. Right now, I have an awesome lead on a wonderful story, centering around a wonderful character. And it’s time to send him an SMS and set up the first meeting.