Casual to ‘no compromise’

A casual approach to work will never result in exemplary outcomes. This is very true in photography. Like the Mobile phone or internet addictions, I have reached a stage where if I do not have access to a camera, then I get restless. Is it because I missed out some great opportunities to click, because I did not have a camera with me?, no, never, I am unable to recollect even one incident to justify it. It is just an anxiety of missing out some potentially great opportunity, which may or may not arise. My experience shows that unless one puts in one hundred percentage into a photograph, it is going to be mediocre. A casual approach to serious photography will not work. Here was a great opportunity, which gave me mediocre results because of my casual approach to photography.

We were driving on the suburban roads of kochi city to avoid the peak hour traffic jams on the main road. We drove into this beautiful view of the sunset behind a fertiliser factory polluting the whole area. In the fore ground there were vehicles plying, so it was a great opportunity for a slow shutter speed photograph, with red and white streams of light in the foreground, followed by the factory and it’s chimneys, and the red sunset in the background. At that moment, I did not want to mount the camera on the tripod, and ended up with a hand held shot, resulting in this mediocre outcome. I will be going there again, to get that perfect shot. One great lesson for me is, if you have to cross the boarder between amateurism and professionalism, then one has to get out of the casual approach to a no compromise approach, else, the end product will be inferior. This fact is applicable to all spheres of professional work.

20130828-115429.jpg

Blame it on poor judgment

Today was the much awaited brahmachari oath day of my friend’s son Suryanarayana. So far I never attended a similar event in the past. Even though I was down with fever, I mustered enough energy to pack my canon 550d, tokina wide angle to take a couple of shots of the traditionally rich environments. I took my lumix fz200 to capitalize it’s low light capabilities expecting vivid plays of shades as the Hindu ceremonies are rich with fire and smoke. When I reached the venue it was a modern building and stage was brightly lit, denying every opportunity for shadow effect. The canon was handling the situation better and unfortunately I had only the wide angle lens with very little zooming capabilities. A reality check would have helped. Atleast I should have carried the canon zoom lens also with me. Will this fall under risk response planning and contingency planning?. However it is a missed opportunity. I will never make the same mistake again. Here is a reasonably good photograph from the ceremony.

20130825-175841.jpg

Violating the rules

Should we follow every good practices always. The answer is no. Sometimes we even violate them for better results. Sometimes following a best practice can land one in trouble. Once while traveling from Delhi airport to Noida by car at 2.30 a.m, the roads were almost empty, and the taxi driver was bypassing all the red traffic signal lights on the way. In a place like that, stopping at a signal waiting for the green light can invite the risk of getting run over by a bigger vehicle. In many occasions, following the law of the land is safer than following the ideal. In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states of India, overtaking through the left side of a heavy vehicle is much easier and safer, even though it is against the written traffic rules. Here is a street photograph I captured at Mumbai where the red light is on, but no vehicle was stopping and if one try to follow the traffic rule here, he will be run over by some other vehicle. In any case, knowing the rules both written and unwritten will help, so that one can either follow or violate them intelligently.

20130818-223809.jpg

Here is a photograph which gave me better results by violating the basic rules about lighting..

20130818-232021.jpg

Business case of dreams

Yes, opportunities are many these days. Which one should I grab, and which one should I refrain from, are the key questions. If I really count the money I already spent on photography equipment, it looks like this;

Canon 550d DSLR Rs 27,000
Canon lens 55-250 Rs 17,000
Canon 50mm lens. Rs. 7,000
Tokina wide angle lens Rs 37,000
Tripod. Rs. 10,000
Camera bags Rs 5,000
Nikon coolpix compact Rs 15,000
Lumix fz 200 Rs 27,000

That is lot of money. It is 1,45,000 so far. Which is approximately three thousand American dollars, which is lot of money. I myself did not realise it till I jotted down all these now. With this money, I could have done lot of other things as well. If I am more serious about photography, then I can easily spend another five thousand dollars to upgrade the photography equipments. Then we are talking about 8,000 usd for the equipment alone, excluding travel and my own time. That makes me think twice about my stillsofindia project. Do I have the time, money and health to do it?. That is the first question. The next question is about the return from this project. So far I got only 50 usd as revenue from google ads as returns from stillsofindia. I could have done lot of other things with this kind of money. What is the business case of my dream of traveling all over India and blogging about it?. Thank you wordpress for making me think about it, instead of plunging into it without proper financial planning. This is another reason to say, ‘projects fail in the beginning, not at the end’. An early exit from an unviable project is better than an abrupt closure in the middle of the project. Do I sound like a pessimist?. Unfortunately, as a manager, I cannot run away from problems. I must confront the harsh realities up front. Confront the issues upfront, is the most preferred approach to issue resolution by all successful manager’s world wide. I think, this is a very valuable point for all artists who otherwise prefer to live in a dreamy utopian world, like the artist in me. Good day to you. Hope you are enjoying.

Here is this beautiful sunflower I captured at the Bangalore airport, using the canon extension tube along with my canon 550d, and the 55-250 zoom lens.

20130816-062852.jpg

Captured 5000+ photographs…so what?

During the past three years, I captured, thousands of photographs good, bad and ugly. So What?. That is the question bothering me these days. What is the purpose of my photography?. Is it just an expensive time killer?. I definitely feel on top of the world for a while, when lot of people like and comment on my photographs. I never feel alone when a camera is with me. It is a great distractor to escape from the very important serious work. Believe me, my project management clients have started chasing me to raise the invoices to them for the work I did for them., so that they can pay me money. .and I am not doing it…instead I am immersing myself into the pleasures of photography. I have reached a level where I feel very insecure when I do not have a camera with me. I always fear about that probable golden opportunity to create that masterpiece, which is every photographer’s dream.

In project management, there is a saying ‘Projects fail at the beginning, not at the end’. If the project selection is not right, we end up wasting lot of time and money on projects, to realise later about the lack of a sound business case to support it. This is very much true for photography projects as well. Before venturing into any project, it is better to spend some time to analyse;

1) Why you are doing it? (the business case, or the lack of it)
2) Who are the stakeholders?, Why they will be interested in what you are doing?
3) What are the deliverables?, just photographs, book, photoblog, travelogue, themes
5) Budgets
6) Time frames
7) Risks and Risk management

There is no question of leaving out something beautiful without photographing them. The thrill of photography is about it’s spontaneity. At the same time, I want to achieve something more tangible from my photography, and I bank on project management concepts to achieve it.

Here is a photograph for you, which I clicked for the sheer joy of photography and beauty…

20130814-232336.jpg

Plan A + Plan B + Plan C = lost opportunities

As part of risk management, my DSLR have two batteries, and I carry a bridge camera as a back up, and sometimes a compact camera as well. I captured this photograph using my lumix fz200 camera.

20130812-234359.jpg

A quite satisfying shot. Then I tried it in the sepia mode. The composition was excellent, I was about to click…and exactly at that moment the batteries ran out. I lost that great opportunity. The stand by plans are fine, provided the opportunity exists for a while. During the demonstration of a product, if it malfunctions, the demo may continue with the back ups, but the opinion about the product is already formed in the prospective customer’s mind. During another occasion when was capturing a beautiful sunset in the slow shutter, the battery ran out of charge. I tried the second battery to realise that I did not charge it before the trip. In photography, a lost opportunity is an opportunity lost forever. It will not come back again. This is very much true in many management and life situations as well. So plan not to fail….very often, there is no second chance.