Who am I?

The answer isn’t on the “About” page, no it isn’t. And just in case you’re wondering, I don’t intend to become a philosopher and even remotely attempt to answer this question which has troubled many more illustrious sorts from Aristotle to Albert Camus. And no, I won’t be a New Age Guru either.  This question actually came to my mind when I was merely wondering why people should, or would want to, read my blog. What would they be thinking? Am I a Pulitzer award winning photographer or a Booker prize author? Am I delusional? Related to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Or is this a prolonged Prozac moment? If your answer to my rhetoric is “none of the above”, then do continue reading.

I am just the regular guy next door who had not a cent when I bought my camera. I was in business school at that time. It was just after I graduated and I was doing research at Singapore with a Professor whom I requested for advance on my stipend and then used it for an SLR. And because I spent my entire stipend (it wasn’t much you see) on a measly camera (yeah right) I missed meals because I had no money to eat. How many people would do that? I am just this regular guy next door who after he got his camera studied (deliberate use of the word) photography and proceeded to win a competition within a month of my “miss-your-square-meal” acquisition. Of course, I promptly used the prize money to buy some more photography equipment. I am just this regular guy next door who in the middle of an Indian summer when it’s pushing almost 50 degrees Celsius steps out to photograph because the color of the sky is absolutely amazing. If I confess that I am this regular guy, what then is my claim to fame?

My claim to fame is this passion of mine, my burning desire to create images that are an indelible part of the inner me, which are from, and of my soul. My claim to fame is also my openness to share this journey with you, my trials and tribulations both, my angst and happiness in equal measure, so that you can see the world through my heart but as it appears through my lens. My claim to fame is that I am a voyeur as a photographer but also an exhibitionist because I am unabashedly naked with my feelings in my images and what I have to say here.

Yes, there are many better photographers than me, I agree. Also an equal number of writers, but I daresay that list gets rather pruned only because I do both with passion and honesty. On 14th March 1839, Sir John Herschel, in a lecture before the Royal Society of London, made the word “photography” known to the world. But in an article published on 25th February the same year in a German newspaper called the Vossische Zeitung, Johann von Maedler, a Berlin astronomer, had used the word photography already. The etymology of the word photography derives from the Greek photos, genitive of phos, “light” and graphé “representation by means of lines” or “drawing”, together meaning “writing or drawing with light”. So in a matter of speaking, I am writing as I create, and I also create when I write. Sometimes though my writing may not be legible even to me – this photoblog is an attempt to set things right.

A recurrent theme in my writing will always be “creation” – the process itself. What I felt, what stirred within me. It is that emotion which I will share. My website is in itself a classic example of my passion; I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I don’t make money from either my photography or writing, far from it. But I have done this only because I believe that it’ll help me create better, and maybe a few others along the way as well. As an aside, I had a business blog (still do in fact) but I stopped writing there because my heart really wasn’t in it. As you can see, it wasn’t because I can’t write.

Now for this photograph – sure I can describe it using the golden mean and rule of thirds and diagonals and converging and leading lines etc., but more than that I should be able to express what I felt at that moment and describe it to you.  I believe I can, and I believe you can too, if only you learn to see with your heart.  As I crossed Choglamsar just off Leh, I passed by these chortens in a field. I paused and stared – which is what I always do when I am awestruck. What I witnessed was raw beauty, barren, yet pristine and pure. A dramatic sky. I felt and believed that the presence of God is everywhere you go, His beauty manifested in many forms. The paths along the parched earth in the photograph are all in different directions yet moving towards the chortens, the Universal Truth in many shapes, of many names. What I also felt was that as you move along this path, you will grow in stature from a small bush to a stoic tree as they are in the photograph. It is then that you see and experience the real expanse of the Universe, the vastness of the sky, the size of mountains. It is then that you’re closer to the Self, closer to your own being.

And for this photograph, I only want to use the words of Hermann Hesse, “We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being”.

Isn’t it much better than saying “Oh, this is a nice snap”. I detest the word “snap” by the way. It is just too frivolous for something as beautiful as an image. It trivializes creativity. It reminds me of snapping my fingers or worse still, snapping at someone. So when I write about photographs that I’ve made and which have really touched me within, it helps me think, lets me see my images over and yet over again, allows me to introspect and figure out in words what was it that moved me within, what stirred my soul, what stayed with me. It is then that I get an inch closer to the answer.

Oh, what was the question again? Who am I?

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  1. Harshita Mahajan April 20, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    Thank you for sharing and baring so much in your voyage of self discovery…It takes courage and resolution…as voyeurs we enjoy the visual feast afforded by your journey

  2. Dr. Sanjay Dhawan April 20, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    The seed of madness when nurtured well, grows up into a big tree of creativity.
    Man you are really crazy . . . and that’s why I like you ;-)

  3. Sandy April 20, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Every time I visit your blog and read, see what you have stood and breathed when you captured the moment, it gives me goosebumps. I feel shame that despite wanting to do just what you are doing, I am unable to move from where my feet stand, frozen. Your photography makes me pause.
    You share. I am grateful for that!

  4. Laura Kaczmarek April 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Very well said and written. I’ve never met you, nor have I visited your blog before. But I now feel that I know what motivates you and how you interpret beauty.

  5. Debesh April 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    Thanks so much Harshita, Sanjay, Sandy & Laura. I appreciate your time, not only in reading my blog but also in commenting. It means much to me.

  6. arindam April 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    moments, well captured Debesh. inspiring for amateurs like me. hope to see more of your good works in future. if you ever cometo china on a photography trip, I would like to join.

  7. Rashmi Oberoi April 24, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    ~ Absolutely fantastic blog and photography. Yes, you are gifted. Kudos and keep on keeping on. There’s no greater pleasure than knowing who you are, doing what you love and finding that happy place. Life is good. Keep Smiling !! And personally, those of us who know that at the end of the day, we have felt satisfaction and a sense of achievement, have found their ‘muse’ and calling. No greater happiness than that…and you can overcome all odds. Cheers !!

  8. Hamidah Puteh April 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Beautiful photos, lively colours and superb angles. I admire how you are able to capture regular things we see around us, and bring our attention to how beautiful they are. Thanks for reminding us to pause, enjoy and appreciate the beauty around us!

  9. Roderick Vesper April 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    This is a wonderful post. I teach photography at a high school and my students have been grinding away with some difficult projects lately. Now I am asking them step back from all of the requirements and breath a little more quietly and search inside for what it is that they find joy in when using their cameras. I am adding this post to their resources as they prepare to seek.

  10. Debesh April 28, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    Thanks so much Arindam; see you sometime soon in China.

    Gracias Rashmi and Hamida – appreciate your time in reading and commenting on my blog.

    Roderick, that is saying a lot. I really appreciate that and it is truly encouraging for me as I begin my photoblogging journey . Thank you so much.

  11. Swapnil May 1, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    A great site and blog for those interested in Landscape and Travel photography. This post and the accompanying images caught my attention a few days ago and have brought me back to read some of the previous posts as well. Your images are truly inspiring to say the least. Good luck in realizing your photographic and creative vision.

  12. Debesh May 6, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    @ Swapnil: Thank you so much for your kind words. I am really happy that you liked my images and posts. Hope to see you on my website more often now.

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