Having not planned the announcement earlier, and finding out this morning that today, 19th August is #WorldPhotographyDay, we decided to let the cat out of the bag!
Apart from the interesting TEDx speakers at TEDxGurugram, you will also find me there. I’m not a speaker but I will be collaborating with them to photograph the city of Gurgaon/Gurugram and presenting a photo exhibition from the series called #EyesForGurugram / #EyesForGurgaon! You will be able to see this work at The Epicenter in Gurgaon on the 6th of November. Antje Pfahl is running point and managing the superb behemoth that TEDxGugugram is turning out to be.
While I still can’t divulge exact details of the association, there are a LOT of firsts that will take place for me due to this collaboration. Leading up to the main event, there will be smaller events where you will find me along with my camera. If you do see me, say hello!
And if you see me on the the streets of Gurgaon, negotiating photography “permissions”, also come say hello – maybe the potential permission-giver will realize I’m not that much of an outsider and that the series I’m working on is for the city as much as it is for my portfolio.
I’ve already negotiated with one such security guard. To protect his identity, I will not disclose the date and time of the photo or the location. I was in my car when I stopped it at the side of a main road on Golf Course Road to take a phone call. During the phone call, I realized I was stopped at an angle that presented a clear view of some buildings. After my phone call ended, while being seated in the car, I picked up my camera from the passenger seat and made two exposures. Within a few seconds, a smiling security guard walked upto my driver-side window.
I smiled and rolled down the glass a couple of inches and was told, “Madam, photography is not allowed.”
I smiled back at him and asked, “Photography of what is not allowed?”
Him : “You can’t photograph anything.”
Me : “I am on a public road, which belongs to the Govt., so I can stand here and photograph whatever I like. The road does not belong to a private entity and there are no signs saying photography is not allowed.”
Him ( pointing to a CCTV camera across four lanes of road ) : “Madam, sign is there under the CCTV camera. Road belongs to DLF. DLF doesn’t allow photography.”
Me : “Bhaiyya, road does not belong to DLF. Road is public property. Journalists or member of the public can photograph.”
Him : “Madam journalists also need permission. Photography is not allowed because if they take photo of this building under construction and write anything, how can we allow that.”
I didn’t want to argue with him anymore because he was just doing his job and clearly didn’t understand how this works. Neither was I interested in going to the nearest police station to make a complaint ( I don’t even know if they would even entertain such a “complaint” ). Going to the guard’s superiors would also not have made any sense because they probably wouldn’t even let me onto the premises with a camera in tow 😛 But I enjoyed the experience. Always happy to learn more.
I had my couple of exposures, I made one more, pointing the camera in a different direction, thanked the still-smiling guard and drove away.
It is going to be interesting to see how my #EyesForGurugram series is going to work. I am going to have company – someone to watch my back – while I photograph for this series over the next couple of months. I will also be looking to make some calls seeking permission to shoot from rooftops of some tall office and residential buildings. I haven’t done anything quite like this earlier and am as excited as one can imagine.
You can of course follow along by visiting EyesForGurgaon.com or keeping track of the #EyesForGurgaon or #EyesForGurugram hashtags on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook.