Photo Feature: Sooni Taraporevala

Sooni Taraporevala (born 1957) is an Indian screenwriter, photographer and filmmaker who is best known as the screenwriter of Mississippi Masala, The Namesake and Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay (1988), all directed by Mira Nair.[1] The city of Mumbai has been an infinite source of inspiration throughout her career. Accident or not, in this series she’s managed to encapsulate the small details about Mumbai that make it “such an interesting place to live. Where camels coexist with supercars and ancient history rubs shoulders with skyscrapers. It’s a city of contradictions that through daily chaos, finds harmony.” [2]

In her new series ‘Home In The City: Bombay 1977-Mumbai 2017’ she documents the ever-changing facade of her hometown in a collection of timeless monochrome images that embody the hidden secrets of the city. “It’s the most diverse city in India in terms of communities. I don’t think I could live anywhere else.” [2] In the words of Salman Rushdie, who has written one of the introductory essays in the book (the other is by Pico Iyer): “I first began to write about this city at approximately the same time that the earliest photographs here were taken.  The children of Bombay-into-Mumbai, ragged, cigarette-smoking, hustling on the street, stare out of these photographs, with too much knowledge in their eyes. Sooni Taraporevala has been showing us these children ever since Salaam Bombay.” [3]

Hear the word ‘Bombay’, and anyone who’s lived in or known the metropolis can conjure up a thousand images that are reminiscent of the island city. And so it is with photographer, screenwriter and film-maker Sooni Taraporevala. A photographer since the early ’70s who’s been greatly influenced by the frames of Raghubir Singh, Taraporevala has made the city her muse since she picked up a camera. [4]

She directed her first feature film, based on a screenplay of her own, an ensemble piece set in Bombay, in Spring, 2007, entitled Little Zizou. This film explores issues facing the Parsi community to which she belongs.

She was awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India in 2014. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi & the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.






Photo Feature: Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White, June 14, 1904 – August 27, 1971) was an American photographer and documentary photographer, the first American female war photojournalist.

After being brought on by TIME Magazine to cover industry and business for Fortune in 1929, “a position that gave her a front-row seat to the aftermath of the stock-market crash, she was hired as LIFE magazine’s first female staff photographer.”

Her photograph on the cover of the first issue of Life magazine was a shot of the Fort Peck Dam in Montana on the cover of the magazine’s inaugural issue, dated Nov. 23, 1936.

“In her riveting 1963 autobiography, Portrait of Myself, Bourke-White herself recalls the heady experience working for LIFE — on the debut issue, and on countless subsequent assignments for what would become one of the indispensable weeklies of the past 100 years.” Her autobiography, Portrait of Myself, became a bestseller.

After the war, she documented the final years of Mahatma Gandhi’s life, producing the iconic image of the Gandhi with his spinning wheel, among others.

In 1953, Bourke-White developed her first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and died from it 18 years later.

Photo Feature II – Galen Rowell – Graduated Neutral Density Filters

What are neutral density filters and how to use them?

  • Using optical filters like graduated neutral density filters can help you balance the contrast between your foreground and your background. Usually, this is used to tone down a background that is too light, or a foreground that is too dark. The key is to use a graduated ND filter properly that the photo still looks natural.

Lessons Learned From Galen Rowell


Photo Feature: Charlie Waite

Charlie Waite (born 1949) is one of the world’s leading photographers. An English landscape photographer, noted for his “painterly” approach in using light and shade, Charlie Waite is a renowned landscape photographer and founder of Landscape Photographer of the Year Award competitions in the UK and USA. Born in England, he worked in theatre and television for the first ten years of his professional life before moving to photography. He is noted for his square format images using a 6×6 Hasselblad (the company is best known for the classic medium-format cameras it produced since World War II).

“I felt spiritually enriched. I knew that a deep engagement with the landscape was really good for me, and really elevated me as a person and calmed me. I found that landscape photography leveled me. Fully engaging with my surroundings. A lot of people think that landscape photography has nothing to do with emotions, it’s just craft, and skill, and finding the right light and everything else but it settles me and I’m very enriched by it. I’m more in love with photography now than I ever have been before.” – Charlie Waite

“What advice would you give to an aspiring landscape photographer?

Find your signature and specialize. Don’t be a jack of all trades. Find your way of seeing. And be memorable for your particular way of seeing. I was given that advice, and it’s a bumpy ride, like acting. It’s really not easy. It’s precarious and insecure, but there are many different ways of seeing, and many ways that are still to be found. Make your images have meaning. And practise.” – Charlie Waite

For those tired of the 35mm format camera, you might consider a move towards the medium format camera, whereby you record images on media larger than 24 by 36 mm (full-frame) (used in 35 mm photography), but smaller than 4 by 5 inches (which is considered to be large-format photography). Medium format (film) cameras can be converted to digital by using a digital back. “As of 2013, medium-format digital photography sensors were available in sizes of up to 40.3 by 53.7 mm, with 60 million pixels for use with commonly available professional medium-format cameras.”

Here are some places where you could rent a Hasselblad camera in Mumbai:

Hasselblad camera – Rs 15,000 per day with lenses, laptop and accessories, plus transportation costs including an assistant.


Photo Feature: Charlie Waite, Revisited In His Own Words

North Dorset

 I have a number of expressions that confirm to me that the photograph is ready to be made. One of them is ‘just so’.

I am sure many of my distinguished colleagues will identify with something similar.

I well remember waiting for some soft light to sweep across the three bales. Finally it did so and left a narrow shadow underneath each. That glorious, much longed for moment provided me with my ‘just so’ moment and the commitment was made.

It is when my photograph appears to finally become ‘just so’ with all the apparent disparate elements coalescing and with my criteria that lies behind the decision to commit becoming fully satisfied.

Perhaps it is not dissimilar from a composer finding that elusive melody. This aspect of the creative process absolutely fascinates me, and always has, and anything that falls short of that aspiration can be quite saddening.

Lucignano d’Asso, Tuscany
To either side of the Via Cassia, which runs from Siena to Rome, there is a network of unpaved roads, each known as a strada bianca. There must be many hundreds of kilometres of these white roads and you can always tell who lives along one of them, as their cars are usually coated with a dusting of fine white powder. Farmers, who, over the centuries, became
accustomed to working in this lumpy landscape, habitually used the roads.
For very many years I have explored these tracks, and I have become fond of one in particular: the road to Lucignano D’Asso, a hamlet near Asciano. I had seen this chapel several times, always in harsh sunlight, which created too much contrast at the end of the day. On an unusually chilly spring morning, I found it virtually shadowless, as I had hoped. But what lies behind my love for this modest little place? The two tired-looking cypress
trees have been planted unusually close to the chapel and the orange door was new since I was here last. 

After packing up, I tried the door of the chapel. It was locked. I would have liked to have gone in and sat for a while. You could say this photograph of Lucignano d’Asso holds the same special mystery for me as it might for the spectator, neither of us knows what is inside.