July 01, 2019

Hidden Gems of Gujarat- Unnamed wonders - 1

This blog post is a joint effort with my co-travelers , photographers and dear friends  Hibru Patel, Lalit Jain, Priti Bhatt and Shri Parikh. Special thanks to  Ria Patel for her youthful exuberance and joie de vivre which made this trip even more special.

Our trip to Roda temples near Himmatnagar, Gujarat, had whetted our appetite for such more trips. Our last stop on that memorable day was Mahakali Mandir atop a tiny hill at Sabali.  The view from the top was very pleasing to say the least.. One can see the shimmering waters of Guhai reservoir on one side of the hillock. We made a mental note of exploring it on some future date. Few of our group members decided to climb the steps to reach the temple. I regret not joining them after I heard their oohs and aahs! They could see farmland dotted with rock formations and tiny domes of far away temples. But what was most interesting and intriguing for them was the cluster of temples they could see almost down below the hillock. When we saw the photos, we made plans to visit the area again and explore them. Unfortunately the scorching heat stopped us from doing it immediately.

Photo by Lalit Jain. Bird's-eye view from the top

Photo by Lalit Jain Interesting and intriguing cluster of temples

Bouts of rain fall in June was heaven sent for us. Now our impatience to explore those temples needed to be assuaged. One balmy morning, we started our journey from Ahmedabad. Now road up to Sabali ,being familiar was easy to navigate and reach.

All our efforts to gather information about these temples proved to be useless. Not a word could be found on the net, at the moment our only source of information. The only nugget of information we could find was the image captured from Google earth shared below. It just provided the information that these temples belong to the Jain sect.

March 23, 2019

Social Media - Some thoughts

Do I need social media? This question haunts me time and again. Being a Photo Artist, I am not in a position to completely ignore it too. In recent times, I share love-hate relationship with social media platforms.

I became active on various platforms , particularly photo sharing ones, since I started photography in 2010. I needed the outlet for my creative pursuits. I needed the feedback , particularly in the initial stages of my photography career. I began with and was quite active on Flickr, a wonderful photo sharing site. I must admit, it really helped me not only as a photographer but also helped me in developing my persona, as I came out of the cocoon and started interacting with other artists. Next was Facebook. I have never considered Facebook as a serious photo sharing site. It is more of a social meeting site. Then came g+ . Absolutely amazing platform which contributed a lot for my development as a photographer. Sadly it will shut down on 2nd April'19. Instagram, twitter, MeWe and few others I visit and share on whenever mood takes me.

Do I need social media?

Yes, social media helped my development as a photo artist, I met some wonderful people online and made lifelong friends. But, I am no longer a starry eyed photographer or user of SM as disillusionment with SM platforms have slowly crept in.

I started photography for my personal joy, hobby which made me forget everything and I began to live for it. I got feedback , fortunately mostly positive , on various SM sites. I also studied and enjoyed photos of many other photographers. Impact of these two important factors, positive as well as negative,  made me rethink about need and importance of social media.

Let me write about sharing and feedback factor first. As years progressed, I realised that I needed and waited for feedback on my work, personal joy of capturing and sharing had taken a backseat.And that realisation was a first nail. When any artist claim that they share on social media for personal joy without expecting anything in return then he or she is deceiving oneself.

 I became close observer of people's online behaviour. Feedback one receives depends on how active you are. More active you are more likes and comments you will get. One may earn respect as an artist but response you get depends on how active you are. Out of sight out of mind or you scratch my back I scratch yours is the dictum of all SM platforms. And it is not a pleasant scenario for any artist. One needs to follow , not only follow but be actively engaged, to get decent response to one's work. That made me wonder about genuineness of the response one gets. And in all this where is the place for constructive criticism? Any artists thrives on constructive criticism or genuine feedback. Do you really get it on social media? I doubt. One needs to be more active at SM rather than actually working at developing one's art. Groupism, where this far and no further factor is strong, is another issue I have faced and  observed. Sadly that is a reflection of society today. 

Judging work based on the response received, which may or may not be genuine , can go against development of any artist. SM can make and break career of an artist, which is really a scary thought. Advertisements to teach you tricks to increase your followers is a case in point. If at the end it is all to do with tricks and keywords and scratching someone's back where does it leave an artist? 

Waiting for the applause
But can any artist leave SM completely? Unfortunately NO. Artist needs an audience. Artist can exhibit work periodically or get it published. But to bring the crowd in or create a follower base for published work one needs to take help of SM. SM has become necessary social evil. Immediacy is the biggest advantage that SM has over other avenues. Artist gets immediate feedback on SM and that can also help in the development as an artist. Here, one assumes that feedback is genuine! Ideal way will be to strike a balance somewhere and take the response with pinch of salt, particularly when one is not overly active on SM. 

One can withdraw from social media, only if, one truly and genuinely creates for own pleasure and not for the world out there (that would be nirvana!)  or one has reached a position in one's field where SM response doesn't matter.

Personally speaking, I prefer to take a break from time to time and concentrate on learning other aspects relating to my hobby or allocate time for other hobbies. SM is not going to change by my raving or ranting, so better keep a healthy distance. 

SM as a learning tool in part 2....