As I was sifting through piles of negatives, prints, magazines, and the mess of things that belong in my room, I couldn’t help but reflect on the year that was. I don’t think I’ve ever spent a whole year making mistake after mistake while still staying in my comfort zone. It started out with a poorly planned visit to the United States where I think I may have learned some important life lessons. Surely there was something to pick up after going through emergency surgery in New York City… My dreams of visiting New York had finally come true, but life has a sense of humor and I spent more than half of my alloted time inside an emergency room and then a hotel to recover. I had plans to get my work reviewed, talk to photographers I admire, and visit art galleries! I wanted to pretend I was a great street photographer and roam the streets and take photos to show my friends. I was not able to, and strangely enough I accepted everything that happened as soon as it did.
A couple of prints for a portfolio I was putting together.
I visited family once again. This time in Atlanta and Mississippi. Yes, Atlanta and Mississippi. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like such an outsider in my own family before. I don’t mean for that to sound derogatory or anything, I just felt that I haven’t done my part in keep close ties with them. Also, that leg of the trip was pretty much an eating contest or maybe it was my subconscious self making up somehow for what I had missed in New York.
You get the picture. Even if everything felt monotonous after a while, I’m happy I got to spend time with family. It almost felt as good as home.
Now let’s go back to the pile of photos I was talking about earlier. Hardly any of them were from 2011. I hope I don’t encourage anyone to stop taking photographs. I just think that I may have done this subconsciously and it may have helped me grow as a person. This year, my best friend got married, and it’s quite nice to see how far we’ve come from being humpty dumpty and a choo choo train in pre-school.
This all made me realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by such great friends, friends who come from good families with strong moral character.
Despite all the food I’ve eaten this year, I have managed to lose more weight that I ever had before. If you’re wondering, No, this is not me. The guy in the middle is someone responsible for helping me lose some weight, and thus enjoy life more. I am more confident and finally feel good about myself.
Last October, I was selected to be a participant in Sohrab Hura’s “Work In Progress” workshop at the first ever Delhi Photo Festival. Delhi was home for a week. I shared a lovely bed and breakfast with some outrageous photographers. Slowly by slowly, I’m beginning to see that good photographers have their quirks, and what happens when you put 7 of them in one room? Yeah. I’ve grown quite close to the people I spent time with during the festival and workshop. They have become close friends.
The workshop basically stripped our work down. No edits. Everything on the table, even images that don’t catch us right away. I could go on forever and talk about each of our projects but to summarize things, we each had presented our work in ways we’ve never done before. I got to make a book for the very first time, and it was an uplifting experience. This may have been the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year while pretentiously working on my “Family Ties” series and trying to be a documentary photographer and hoping to have the photographs up in a gallery. I learned that I was being and outsider in my own family. I am after all a son, a brother, a nephew, a grandson, before being a photographer. Noni Singh said I have such a beautiful family, and she enjoyed looking at the ‘album’. A few minutes later, I had to fly out of Delhi and before leaving I made sure to thank Sohrab, who was happy I was confused about my work.
This book never made it past the opening night. Pages were ripped off and stolen. Ankit has 2 of them I think. 😉
Soon after this great learning experience, I flew to Siem Reap for the 7th Angkor Photo Festival. I was there for the workshop and was very thankful I finally made the cut this year. It was nice to see people whom I had met in Delhi in a different part of the world. I think this is my new favorite feeling… bumping in to people in different parts of the this small world. I’m not sure I had a more overwhelming experience than this in a long time, and I’m not too sure where to start. I got to meet some great photographers from different parts of Asia. It was a group of good looking boys and girls with so much energy and character. I have quite a few anecdotes about the whole experience, and maybe they’re better shared over a cold pint. Two weeks of seeing the same faces day in and day out eventually made us family. The workshop on the other hand was a stark contrast to what we had in Delhi, this being more technical and ‘photojournalistic’ in nature. I got to work with two very well respected mentors, and they wasted no time in making me realize my shortcomings and flaws. I respect them so much for being able to point out what I do wrong and that being said, it was another learning experience for me. I will never forget the nights I spent with my new friends.
All in all, 2011 has been a great year for me. I feel that despite all the mistakes I’ve made this year, I’ve come out a better person overall. Your opinions may vary. 😛 This is definitely a change from the 2010 year in review, in which I posted photographs to represent each month. I sort of wish I had more images to show you, but this is all I really have to say this year.
So just like any year ender blog entry, this thing is bound to have a resolution section. Luckily, this one is going to be short and sweet.
1) Be thankful, and count my blessings
2) Enjoy family time
3) Stop comparing myself with others
4) Write more
5) Travel more, and step out of my comfort zone
6) Be a nice person
I’m looking forward to what the New Year has to offer, and cannot wait to see what adventures it has in store for me. I do hope to run in to my friends along the way, they’re the ones who make it interesting 🙂
What are you looking forward to?