Story of a Failed Project (Part 1)
The last blog post, I had planned to share the detailed story behind the failed project. After two years in limbo, I just decided to revive my blog. In any creative journey, and in life, there is so much to say. Yet, we choose to prioritize everything that can wait over what we want to share. At times of introspection, such as now, the same discomforting question poses itself – why is it that we find ourselves to be less deserving than others? Is this the dilemma of a creative? Or is it that is how we are raised? I have partial, broken answers to these questions. The day I am confident of the answers, will definitely share. But, want to focus on taking this blog forward. So much has happened since the last blog post, that it is imperative that the story is told. So, the detailed story of a failed project follows.
Inspiration Can Come from Unexpected Things or Places
In my last blog post titled ‘Learning from a Failed Project’ I talked about what I learnt from a failed project and how it can help you as a photographer. The question that remained unanswered is – what was the project about? For a very long time I kept looking for ideas to initiate a project. But, I kept striking them out one by one, except when I laid my hands on a show piece – a cycle rickshaw made out of wire.
For those who have no clue, a rickshaw is a two or three wheeled passenger cart pulled by a man carrying one to three passengers. A cycle rickshaw replaced the original form of rickshaw with a cart attached to a cycle driven by a man.
Translating Inspiration into a Project Idea
I bought this show piece at a local market in Delhi, India, my hometown. Looking at this object, I realized how resilient this mode of transport has remained since its invention in the late 19th century. To me, it brings back many childhood memories. We would often use a rickshaw to cover short distances to neighbouring places and markets. Technology and automation have transformed how people commute and travel. But, a rickshaw remains a convenient, cost-effective and eco-friendly mode of transport for many even to this day. Low to high-end cars loaded with varying degrees of technological advancements dominate the roads of Delhi today. Still, these rickshaws – pulled by poor men trying to earn their daily bread and support their families – continue to crawl at the left-most side of the road while those boxes of metal zip past them. The automotive vehicles, a technological marvel in themselves, have allowed humankind to move faster and travel farther.
The fact that rickshaws persist on the grey-black roads signifies that existence of life is not a function of speed, but of effort. Human effort.
And this is what motivated to me to create a project that brings out the contrast between the old and the new. The slow and the fast. And how in a fraction of seconds, speed becomes a blurry line losing its visibility and tangibility.
Preparing for Execution
As a concept, this idea was very appealing. Appealing enough for me to jumpstart outlining the nuances of executing it. I took a pen and paper to list out the details of execution, such as:
Location: In order to bring out a contrast between the rickshaw and present-day automotive vehicles, a road with heavy traffic would be an ideal location. Such a location could offer me varied options for frames.
Time: Different times of the day would give varying results, but I chose the evening time. Largely because I could carve out time for the shoot after work hours. I decided to reach the location at least half an hour before the blue hour so that I could do a recce and identify pin-pointed locations for shots. When the blue hour occurs, my compositions will have a nice blue colour in the sky.
Additional Gear: Taking sharp photos in low light conditions, a tripod is a must to avoid any kind of camera shake. A shutter release was also needed for long exposures.
Written by Shivendra Lal