Life lessons from photography – # 3

Let me start by thanking Yvette and Indah for nominating me for the 5-story challenge.

And now – here’s day 3 of my endeavor to post 5 photos, 5 stories and 5 personal life lessons that I’ve learnt thanks to photography.


The photo

Reflections at Taj Lake Palace Udaipur

This is one of my favourite shots, clicked at the Taj Lake Palace hotel in Udaipur. Look carefully, those stunning arches are reflected on the floor and not water.


The Story

It is not unusual to see photographers perched in mildly curious to downright dangerous positions, trying to capture that perfect shot.

And while I’ve never done anything as crazy as this shutterbug here, chances are, that I’ll be up for it. Especially if you gave me a choice between that and this.

In terms of risk-taking, I’m a bit of a study in contrasts.

If the question is about doing things with potential risk of bodily harm, to get what I’m going after (or simply for a new or thrilling experience), I’d likely be willing to sign up. However, when it comes to something “scary” like walking up to a stranger and asking to click their picture, or “even scarier”, like making a fool of myself in public, you’d find me running a mile.

It’s all down to personality.

I wouldn’t like strangers taking photos of me, and so I assumed that others would be the same. I’d have a pretty supercilious attitude towards anyone doing anything even remotely “embarrassing” in public. And so I stayed away from ever putting myself in such a position.

Till one day, while on a mission to shoot “faceless portraits”, one of the subjects I was trying to capture turned around and looked me in the eye. Caught in the act and with no escape, I went up to her, fearing all sorts of “delete this picture now or I will sue you” conversations to follow. However, she and her partner were really friendly, and gave me their email address so that I could send the pictures to them.

Just ask. The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no. Smile, and move on”, were the sage words of advice from one of my photographer friends.

And the next time, I mustered up the courage to accost a stranger in a park and she happily agreed to pose for me. It wasn’t so bad, after all!

Over time, as the quest to get the right shot became the overarching goal, walking into fancy restaurants with my big-ass camera and snapping away before eating a bite, wasn’t that daunting any more. What I was doing is showing an appreciation for their food, and turns out most establishments like that!

Coming back to this photograph… Mr. A was catching some shut-eye in our room, and I decided to venture out and get a drink in the hotel’s courtyard bar.

As it grew dark, the gorgeous arches, duplicated on the sparkling marbles floors completely enthralled me.

Without a tripod, I needed a stable surface to take a long exposure shot. I tried the table in front of me, but the angle wasn’t right to capture the reflections in their entirety. So I set my camera down on the floor and parked myself down beside it.

Other patrons of this elite, 5-star, heritage property must have looked at me, possibly, horrified. Perhaps, amused. Maybe, indifferent. Whatever it was, I was blissfully unaware, as I sat there playing with different exposure speeds and white balance settings.

Who cares what they thought, or didn’t… I managed to get my perfect shot…. And that’s all that mattered.


The lesson

“What will people think?” is the most useless and debilitating question you can ask.

To do something truly worthwhile, you have to take a chance. You have to get out of your comfort zone.

There are risks worth taking… And whether it is perching in a precarious position or making an utter, complete fool of yourself, doing things that scare you the most, is likely to yield the most fulfilling rewards.



P.S. Today’s nomination for the 5-story challenge goes to Madhu of the Urge to Wander. Her effortless words and stunning visuals make her one of the most consummate travel bloggers, in my opinion.