On Principle

2019

on a quaint wednesday evening 

/A : Why did you do that?                

J1: Do what?

/A: Photograph that man in the dead of the night

      with your flash on. 

J1: It was a good moment, I wanted to capture it.

/A: Did you look at his astounded face after you

     photographed him? He was taken aback.

J1: It's just a flash. It doesn't do any harm.

/A: I could never get myself to do this. 

     

on a somber night, few days later

/A : I don't think I can do it.

J2: Do what?

/A: Photograph people in the dead of the night

      with my flash on. 

J2: Why don't you?

/A: It is against my principle. What if they are having a

     terrible day? What if my actions make it worse?

J2: Or- what if they are having a terrible day and the                   fact that you chose to photograph them made 

     their night? You can't decide until you try.

/A: Now you're going to make me do this, aren't you?

     

[FLASH]

[FLASH]

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN WITHIN A SQUARE KILOMETER RADIUS OF PATAN DURBAR SQUARE, KATHMANDU

BETWEEN 1800HRS AND 2200 HRS FOR A WEEK IN OCTOBER, 2019

WOMEN, FIVE YEARS GIVE AND TAKE, FROM MY AGE WERE PHOTOGRAPHED

The most common responses expressed were startled looks followed by either a light hearted chuckle or a passing smile. Some were interested in knowing what I would do with their photograph while others would pose insisting I photograph them again as they weren't 'ready' the first time. On very rare occasions was I told to delete what I'd shot and on one, what I had feared all along, I was told that she was having a 'bad day' and I had no right to photograph her without her consent. Looking at the odds of the outcome I was expecting being 1 : the 'n' number of women I 'flashed', I think all in all, it was a fruitful experience.

 

Although, after the completion of a week of photographing, the ethical question at hand raised several more as listed below.

what would have been the outcome if men had photographed the women instead? 

would the outcome be different if I had photographed men instead? 

what about photographing children or the aged? 

if I wasn't a 'foreigner' from their neighboring country but an aspiring photographer from Kathmandu, would I have been treated differently?

could I do this in India? how would it differ from city to city?

would the outcome differ from person to person photographing? would the approach make the difference?

After several conversations, discussions, cut throat drunk debates later, the only conclusion one came up with was the only way one can answer this is by attempting to photograph.

And to that, I slammed my half empty glass of wine and said aloud, 'NEVER AGAIN, I still firmly stand on my principle.'

© 2020 BY AAKRITI CHANDERVANSHI

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