Step out and see yourself in the world

As World Photography Day was observed, here is a choice collection of images, clicked and composed by The Hindu's photographers, that tells a story only a montage — not the individual pictures — could have told.

August 21, 2016 07:44 pm | Updated August 22, 2016 06:40 pm IST

This is a blog post from

There is something very mundane and idyllic about sights and scenes we're familiar with. Take seas and shores, for example.

^ This image, shot from a height of 160 feet atop the Light House on Marina, shows the idyll of Marina Beach in Chennai. | R. Ragu

A location that we frequent — almost daily, if we're the curious type of people who don't mind sand in their shoes — can appear surreal and unfamiliar if we view the scene from a shifted perspective. The aerial shot often accomplishes this shift in perspective quite well.

^ Piligrims take a dip at the Padmavathi Ghat along the Krishna during the seventh day of the Krishna Pushkaralu, in Vijayawada on Thursday. | Ch.Vijaya Bhaskar

Now, how does this dislocation of perspective affect us? When we are knocked off our subjective perch, might we find ourselves become more selfless? Less rigidly ensconced within our individuality...

^ Aspiring personnel parade at a police training centre in Vellore on August 19, 2016. | C. Venkatachalapathy

... and more affiliated with the collective of humanity? And how would this feel? Exhilarating? Or would it feel a bit like a bullock cart...

^ Pilgrims lead cattle to take a dip on August 2, 2016, the day of the Aadi Amaavaasai festival, at Thirumoorthy dam near Udumalpet in Tamil Nadu's Thiruppur district. The festival, which falls in July-August, is a special day for those who live around Thirumoorthy hills. On this auspicious day, a stream of bullock carts makes its way to the temple of Sri Amanalingeswarar on the hills. Residents of at least 45 hamlets — Kurichikottai, Pollachi, Madathukulam and Devanurputhur and suburban areas of Kerala’s Palakkad district — go uphill to perform pooja at the age-old temple. The pilgrims believe that the deity will protect their livestock from diseases. After a dip in the waters of the reservoir, the pilgrims offer food and prayers to their predecessors. | Photo: K. K. Mustafah.

... without the bull driving it?

Well, we are still alive and conscious despite a shift in locus, no? No matter how many drama-concocting movies we watch, how many imagination-stirring fantasy novels we read, how many mind-altering drugs we ingest, we never lose our identity, do we? Our mind might be engrossed in an unusual reality but we don't cease to be ourselves.

This seems to indicate that we are defined not by the narratives we choose to weave around ourselves, but rather by some innate nature, some essential property, no matter how we wish to...

^ As on this year, the 177th since of the invention of permanent photography format, the world of photography has evolved significantly from the Daguerreotype process developed by Frenchmen Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicephore Niepce The advancements of the digital era have cornered most of the traditional studios across the globe. But the century-old Indian Art Studio in Mumbai has managed to diversify itself. | Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury.

... appear to the world, or wish the world to perceive us. The uniforms we wear to denote our role in the world cannot obscure the fact that we are...

^ A man fishes on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar on Friday. | Nissar Ahmad

... inherently organisms who are employing our subjective perch to watch the world. And so, we will always be caught in the paradox of being part of AND separate from the world that we are perceiving. And that means that no matter how much we resort to the illusion of collectivising ourselves as families, communities, societies, nationalities, or species, we are, at the heart of it all...

^ Cattle being led back home at dusk in the Nizamabad region of Telangana. | K.V. Ramana

... just unique entities walking the path of life with fellow unique creatures alongside.

And this is what co-affiliates us. Our common uniqueness. The fact that we are all distinct individuals who are chasing the same thing...

^ On giant screen, Hyderabadis watch Spain's Carolina Marin embrace India's PV Sindhu after winning the women's badminton singles final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, on August 19. | G. Ramakrishna

... Success and self-actualisation. And this is truly what justifies our collectivisation. The knowledge that we are all beset by the same miseries and aspirations. And it hurts a world no. 6 just as much to lose as it enriches a world no. 1 to win. In this sense, a collective is the only true way to perceive humanity when you acknowledge that we, vessels of neurochemical-induced emotions, are utterly interchangeable for all our individuality. That we all feel the same things, hold the same potential, and share the same reality.

^ Thick clouds of smoke rise as garbage is burnt on Moondru Mavadi Road in Madurai. | S. James

And here's the thing about sharing a reality. When the world burns, all of us will cough. And this in turn, enjoins upon each of us a duty to look out for one another as much as we might ourselves. To be selfless out of self-interest.

^ Security staff frisk women outside the Central Jail in Jaipur before allowing them in to tie rakhi to their brothers on Thursday, August 18. | Rohit Jain Paras

This also means that no matter what roles we play, no matter what our actions are, our bonds and affiliations exist at a level that transcends the facades and fabrications that our social identities convey. Our bonds are independent of the sort of people we turn out to be. As entities with a duty to look out for one another, we are obligated to share love with even those of us whom society condemns and convicts.

^ Solar panels at the Visakhapatnam airport are momentarily left thirsty as an aircraft obscures their source, on August 18. | K.R. Deepak

Because remember; all said and done, an array of solar panels could easily have been the corrugated roofs of slum dwellings. And our drive to soar high and succeed at the expense of other members of our species may momentarily obscure the truth that we all source our energy from the same sun. But if we're aware of our core affinity, this obfuscation is only momentary.

A moment that can be captured by the camera.

Imagine if everyday were World Photography Day in our minds.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.