Street Photography: Unsung Streets by Manu Thomas

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Based in India, Manu’s work talk volumes of the choices he has taken so far. He’s both a working professional and loves is photography. We found his street photography work through his Insta handle and were hooked since then. Hence we dug a little deeper and asked him more on the same. Here’s a brief Q & A account of the same.

1) So we got really interested in knowing more about our work especially your street work in Rajasthan. Could you share more about it ?

I was stuck at work almost all of 2019. My project mostly got over by January. Close to getting burned out by work, I needed a break urgently and some means to be away for a while. Photography being my default choice and Rajasthan looking like a promising destination, I set off on a solo trip through Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Pushkar, my first ever to this fascinating place. Coming from a state green in color, Rajasthan and its pastel yellow hues was a novel experience.

I am very obsessive about negative spaces or at least having some control over chaos in my photographs. Mumbai was migraine inducing, often made me wonder how I reached the sea side, when I went to photograph the city ( rewards you abundantly when in mood ). My photographs breathed more freely in Kerala. I found Rajasthan to be visually very liberating. Would love to go back there.

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2. Can you talk more about your work in general ? In your bio you also mention you are a coder ?

Taking about my work is difficult. I don’t know how to explain it or even if there is any purpose to it. I don’t work in any structured / project oriented way. I am always in search of visually stimulating experiences while holding camera. At certain points of time, you feel that there is ‘something’ out there in front of your eyes, somehow visual elements are connected to each other, in some emotional/fictional way and you press shutter.

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Regarding my way of working, I try to clear my head and walk around until I could sense that the scene got potential and hang around until something interesting happens or whatever is blocking the interesting elements are removed. Usually scenes are chaotic in the beginning and at some point of time elements arrange in such a way that the picture’s totality is reached.

Coding is my profession. I work as a game programmer.

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3. Any notes on street photography you would like to share with us and readers ?

Quoting Alex Webb, street photography should be “a kind of open-ended exploration with an emphasis on discovery”. Don’t try to squeeze yourself into someone else’s cast. Be free or at least be trapped in your own. Fine-tune your mental tools to transfer the richness of your experience into a two dimensional frame more subjectively. Know that no one else sees the world the way you see. There is no way of knowing how others experience the abstraction of your experience. To align your vision to a collective trend claiming any kind of objectivity is a most futile exercise. Photographers sometime end up reducing the complexities and richness of their experience into simple rules and contemporary working formulas, either in pursuit of success or to satisfy the inherent craving to connect with others. There is no need for that. Photographs should matter more to the creator than others.

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4. Your favourite photographers ?

There are so many. Raghubir Singh and Alex Webb were my early favorites ( they still are ).

If you have any legit questions/queries for Manu on his work, photography or life in journal ,shoot them away.
Manu’s website can be viewed here and social media accounts here
Instagram
Flickr
Facebook

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