Among the stunning images that make up the HT photo wall at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is one of a young woman posing for a mobile phone in front of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on New Year’s Eve. She’s wearing jeans, a jacket and carrying what looks like a work bag, in addition to one acquired from a shopping trip. It’s just a regular day in Mumbai: a city perennially in a hurry, pausing briefly to capture a moment, and with it, a bit of the city itself.
And that’s what the HT photo wall — atop the stairs on Rampart Row — showcases. Photographers are the eyes of a newspaper. They go out every day, not just to capture current events, but also the city, its people, their hopes, joys and sorrows.
Hope and happiness are dominant emotions here. A boy soaking in the overflowing waters of the Powai dam, arms spread wide; another in silhouette, jumping exuberantly against the backgrop of the Bandra Reclamation promenade; hands outstretched during a dahi handi celebration. The images capture the small joys that make this city happy. “Happiness is the emotion that strikes me most when I look at this wall,” says college student Sumit Deo, 20, from Borivli.
Having first posed for the mandatory group selfies, he spares a minute more to reflect on the images. “I particularly like the one of a streak of lightning over the skyline,” he says. “It makes me think of the arrival of the rains. I take the trains every day, and the rains sometimes make the services stop. But I still love the monsoon.”
They’re not all Kodak moments. The job of a news photographer is often to find a frame that captures adversity, and that can be harder than capturing a cheerful moment. It should make the reader stop and reflect; yet, it cannot be distasteful. Take, for instance, photographer Anshuman Poyrekar’s image of the massive oil spill at Bombay Port Trust last July. “I wanted to capture something different. Everyone else was hunting for images of the tanker, but I wanted to show things as they were,” he says. “Even though the incident was tragic, the reflection of the sky and the buildings in the oil was beautiful, so that’s what I shot.” It can be a nearly impossible task to pick 14 images from among the thousands taken. It is equally impossible to say with certainty these are the best of them all. But that’s not the idea. The idea is to showcase range — of emotions, events and moods. Drop by, and tell us what you think; how did they make you feel?