The Streets Are Calling | Post Pandemic Street Photography In India

The year 2020 has come as a major turning point in the history of mankind. All of a sudden, every individual is directly or indirectly affected by Covid-19 that is spreading faster than wildfires. As every country opted for different strategies to contain the virus and current crisis, both the results and the success rates differ from place to place. However, the interest is common around the globe; to end it. While governments are struggling to control the virus, the citizens look hopeful for the old regular days. Meanwhile, we are learning to get used to the new normal. Like air, change is all around us. We are left with no other choice but to inhale these changes and adapt. After all, with no reliable conclusion in sight, it seems the situation is not getting back to completely “normal” anytime soon.

In India, the lockdown is in the process of being lifted, meanwhile, street photography is stepping into a whole new phase.


People Are Changing And So Are The Streets.

Photo by Ajay Kumar

Yes, eventually people are starting to sneak out as markets are slowly getting back to business, except the vibrant streetlife. Streets are no more the place to be explored but only to pass by when necessary to reach our destinations. There are no talks, no instant plans to have lunch outside, and mostly there’s a hurry to reach in a safer environment. People are walking on the streets and that’s all.


This sounds not at all ideal for street photographers, the souls who belong out on the streets. It is a worrying thought to not be able to take the picture you wish. If you too are the one who finds solace in wandering throughout the journey first, later in the destination, no wonder this is a harsh road. The beauty of street photography is that it transforms with every stage of street life. So, post-pandemic street photography will not be exactly how it used to be before. Like everything else, this huge shift also comes with both pros and cons. This will help you understand what you can expect the next time you go out on the streets.


A Shift In The Perspective


Very often street photography is labeled as a ‘not serious type’ of photography for which one only requires a camera and no other learning. At times, street photography is either misunderstood for documentary photography or understated to an extent where it is not even considered a type of photography.


In street photography, candidness allows photographers to capture reality. This is why many of the most moving pandemic photographs are street photographs. Post pandemic, street photography will be acknowledged more than ever because the world seeks photographs that tell the raw truth. The future exhibitions, with pandemic as the subject, will include street photographs to complete it.


Emotions Covered With Masks

Photo by Ajay Kumar

Photos in which faces are covered with masks are already the new normal. Everyone is understanding the importance of wearing masks and gloves. Before pandemic, it was possible to capture random expressions on the streets. Even though it is a must safety measure, masks are bound to hide the emotions a photographer look forward to clicking. You can no longer find a beautiful smile to capture as easily as before.


Street Portraits And Close Shots


There are photographers who go for minimalist snaps and there are others who connect with close shots. Minimalist style is usually taken from a distance so it will not be affected but close shots will become trickier than before. These candids will not be happening unless all is safe again. The post-pandemic period will be mainly challenging for photographers who take pleasure in street portraits and subject-centered snaps. Many times, photographers prefer to take permission from strangers before taking their picture. Now, the priority is to maintain a safe distance, and photographers have to skip some of what could have been their desired snaps.


Location Limitations


The idea of capturing the locals in the heart of a city is appealing to many photographers. Hence, places such as fleamarket, streets in the oldest areas of any city are always great locations. As these locations are also the high-risk area, preferences are shifting along with the conditions around. Nearby localities instead of the iconic ones are starting to become the new common. Above all, street photography is not about any particular place but every corner of the cities.


A Shift In Equipment Preference


A wide lens doesn’t allow to zoom in which means you have to move forward for a closer look. So, which lens will be most suitable for this new age? The answer is every photographer is comfortable with his or her gadgets, be it a wide lens or a zoom lens. It is solely an individual’s decision to make.


The World Is Getting Creative At Home


It is obvious why photographers do not consider homes as a part of street photography but Covid-19 has put a majority of street photography projects on hold. So, it is the need of the hour to make the best of whatever you are getting.

Street photographers are coming up with various methods to advance their skills, promote their works, raise awareness, or add to a cause. They aren’t hesitating to experiment with anything that’s keeping them close to street photography.

Photo by Ajay Kumar

Sale Of Prints


In April 2020, four photographers from different countries who share liking for Delhi started a fundraiser to support the migrant labors of India. They reached out to the global photography community to contribute their works. This fundraiser brought together 60 photographers who donated their photos. A collection of 70 photographs was put up for sale which received a great response yet again proving the significance of narrative through images. All the raised amount was contributed in the Rahat COVID-19 program initiated by non-profit organization Goonj.


Virtual Exhibition


When a couple based in the UK was unable to host their first exhibition, they launched a virtual exhibition in three separate ways: 3D virtual gallery, Instagram exhibition, and print gallery. All the profit raised from their exhibition was donated to COVID Crisis Response, an initiative by World Vision.


Virtual Street Photography


The sets and characters of many popular games are inspired by real life. In the mid of the lockdown, a group of street photographers started using Photo Mode, which lets the players pause the game and take a screenshot. After going through all their past shots, they began to restyle the virtual streets of games like Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto, The Last of Us, and Uncharted. This resulted in a trending hashtag #virtualstreetphotography where gamers share their modified photos from various games.


Fake Street Photography


When photographers do not fear being criticized, they create the unusual. Another innovative idea of Fake Street Photography came to existence with the same fearless approach. Here an awarded street photographer made a clear point that closed doors can also offer great opportunities. Fake Street Photography is setting a street scene indoors and then clicking it.


Everyone is adjusting with the restrictions to contribute in their distinct ways. For street photographers, it is a choice to make whether they will hit the streets or bring the streets to them or wait for the right time. How do you think street photography is going to be affected post-pandemic?


Have a look at the new world of streets through, "Pandemic Street Stories," a video shot and edited by team SPI.

Contribution:

Blog idea by photographer and cinematographer, Prachi Shetty.

Photos by Ajay Kumar, a street photographer. Visit www.ajayimages.com to check out more of his collection.

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