White Christmas. from Manoj Pururshothaman on Vimeo.

Christmas brings joy to the season. Nature too joined the celebrations with blessing showering in an unusual way this time around.


Glimpses of nature from a bathroom window.

Abstraction is all around us. Just that we need to open minds rather than the eyes to see.



Nilgri hills ( the blue hills) assumes its name from the bluish Eucalyptus trees that lend its hue. Adding foreground interest here adds dimension and depth to a rather flat image. I thank my instinct to fill the frame with my foreground interest in the overhanging, sculptural branch of a tree.

Interestingly my original subject intended was the misty blue hills beyond.



I am now glad that I reached their home so early in the morning on a sleepy weekend. To shoot these kids of my architect client. While checking for potential sunlit spots in the house I casually stepped in to their bedroom. Hardly had I anticipated a photographic opportunity as this one to present itself. Siblings in a blissful embrace of innocence. Just a shaft of early morning sunlight reaching out to them like some divine blessing.
In fact I was the blessed one - to be carrying my camera like my sixth sense. Remember that nothing in this shot was altered at any stage. It reminds you of your own childhood isn't it? And how deeply they too will miss it in another 30 years.



The receding glory of autumn splendor.
Ivy finds opportunity to criss cross all over the the fort-like granite wall. In turn, in Ivy the wall finds opportunity to showoff its beauty and benevolence.

Shot opposite Barns n Noble (the shadow in the bottom half) Forsyth Avenue, Atlanta.

I like this subtle humor about this image.

I think this man was bit of a dim wit, trying to converse with me in broken context. The slightly baffled me was but charmed by the details in the patio from a couple of centuries ago. The pastel shade of the pillar was particularly pleasing. Those 2 missing roof tiles mimicked his missing teeth. 
A case of repeated patterns in composition?
Practicing Veena and Carnatic music keeps him busy for the whole day. Most of the evenings there are concerts to attend in the nearby temples. But of course, he lives in the legendary brahmin settlement in Kalpatti, Palghat. Being a chronic bachelor helps such dedication to follow ones passions. While showing me around the dark alleys of his dilapidated ancestral house he kept blushing without a reason. 

It was home time in this summer camp and he was pushed around by all friends. They made fun of him for crying that morning when I had attempted taking his pictures. He took only a while to make up his mind. He himself requested me for a smiling picture instead. This ear-to-ear grin was his answer to all friends.

Proving a point on the face of adversity has no age barrier. 

Cutting aperture by several stops allowed me to create this dreamy, moonlit mood when the sun was in fact blazing its wrathful glory upon the lake. It was afternoon.

I remember it was like a thousand flashes by the edge of Hollywood red carpet walk.

Wish I had shot it in video too!

She chose to dance with her younger brother as I'd ask them to play - for the shoot. I like the joy-de-verve in it and how this image will be treasured reliving a nostalgic memory in another 20 years.

The man in white robes is the chief priest in the famous Mookambika temple in south Karnataka. I was blessed with 2 days of togetherness with him. We travelled 70 kms up the hills beyond Kudajadri to an ashram.  I liked the theatrical lighting bestowed by the evening sun peeking into the ashram hall. 
I said theatrical as you can easily make out the half-hearted conversation they are hardly engaged in. Perhaps boredom was setting in as the entire afternoon was spent waiting for the 'darshan'. Note all the 3 people have no eye contact and all thier hands are folded.

Shafts of sunlight chasing shadows out of the pine woods, Ooty, India. For the first time I was closely observing the shadow play within these woods.

I remember clearly. I didn't see anything else about the trees, but just the drama of drifting shadows ( or was it the light?) mesmerized me.

He is one of the very few authorities alive doing 'Bhagavatha sapthaham'- intepreting Sri Maha Bhagavathm, the Hindu lengend. He looked straight out of a Bhagavathm story, one of those ascetics straight out of 'Amar Chitra Katha' comic strips we used to revel on as children.
I found him in one of the many 'Illams' I visited during my Payyannur trips in north Kerala.

The only purpose in her life seemed to be cooking for others all the time and cleaning. She helped at a renovation site of an old Shiva-Parvathy temple in Kannur, Kerala. I like the way the tools of her trade has been included into this frame and how she herself is framed within the linen screen allowing a cleaner silhouette. 

This profile was deliberately done to be a silhouettte to complement the peculiar shape of his skull. I was sure all his relatives and friends will naver fail to recognise him. 
Unmistakable physical features can make illustratively graphic character statements like this while doing portraits.
Past 2 hours she was made to sit with me and answer my random questions in an attempt to get some original emotions on her face. Suddenly she decided to run away, gathering courage and her overflowing Pricess' clothes and this moment of beauty happened. 
The ladies in the image are sisters in a typial Kalpathi household. The one in the kitchen is making the famous filter coffeee for me. In fact I'd barged in hearing about a 102 years old mother of them.

I went exploring the dark array of rooms lined up as if in a procession in these typical rowhouses. The neverending damp floors badly needed repair, reminding me of roads in Kerala after the monsson. Overlapping shadows were often puncutred by glass-tiled skylights, like the one illuminating the lady in green next to their pooja - the place of worship. The window at the far end opens to a courtyard with a well that can be accessed from the kitchen directly. A few more rooms further I found another well accessed from the spacious bath. The rear courtyard of every such house had a kitchen garden and cowshed. 
Designs that promote a lifestyle abuzz with community living yet help maintain utmost privacy and self sufficency within every household. Wonder why we took a 'U' turn from such proven practices in civilisations.
He retired to pursue his passion for painting, reading and editing. Enigmatic and passionate this forth generation 'Kalari' exponent remains as elusive as the martial art he practices.
It is puzzling to see what he could be examining on his spectacles once he'd removed it. A case of 'chicken or egg'?
The only source of some sunlight in his dingy apartment was this bedroom with a door opening to a small balcony. Leaving a few inches gap between him and the wall helped define his right forehead, cheekbone and shoulder.  This avoids him blending with the background and brings in depth to the image.
Vedanth and Sidharth are brothers scaling their individual flights of fantasy. Armed with a Spiderman mask (now seen on the floor)  Vedanth drives himself up the wall while Sidharth nurtures a dream to become a fighter plane pilot someday - perhaps fostered by the advanced levels he has already reached in the world of computer games. 
A shaft of sunlight sneaking into this messy but colorful room was the only spot I could shoot this lovely child. This impressive shot works as a constant reminder on how to make the most of whatever sunlight available even within the limitations - barely a couple of square meters and I’m done!. 


Fleeting moments of beauty

Freezing such enternally beautiful moments for posterinty is the joy of Art. But then it also reminds us about the temporary nature of any 'present moment'isn't it?
In real life "this too shall pass" but a cleaver use of long exposure and firing flash at the end of it helped me capture this.

She's back, with the sunshine still trapped...in her twinkles.

Blogging has helped me rediscover myself. 
To relive and eulogize on those fleetings moments hit by the shtterbug.
To bring out those images and their stories from 'Selective Amnesia' and to feel the freedom of being less burdened, less inhibited.

And more fulfilling of all was to rediscover an old friendship after about 6 years of missing it. Maybe I was expecting it someday that she will chance into this posting on her and reach out for me from somewhere. And God, she did and wrote "I was bent, broken, beaten, twisted out of recognition and I did not know me anymore....Have rented a lovely 1 bedroom flat that has a window with a view. Have bought worldspace. Have adopted a child financially. Am trying to find happiness in small little everyday things. Have 18 plants. "
Despite all the bitterness life had lavished on her in the meanwhile, she emerges with those twinkles intact.

Maybe, when it seems like your life is slipping through your fingers tonsuring head could be the immediate step that could liberate your self to selfless abandon. I understand it as a gesture of complete surrender from worldly worries of looks, perceptions, projections and pride in thyself.

To be honest, when I promised to write more on 'framing a face in hair' I never imagined myself writing about pates minus its 'copper tinted tresses' instead.
Well you never know what life has in store.
And the storyline continues...on shooting people and related thoughts!

'Lost' in translation...

This Buddhist monk was in his own world musing with a meditative, middle distance gaze. Impressed with the subject and particularly the colours I politely asked in English permission to take his picture. He just raised his eyebrow and chose to remain silent and elusive. Provoked by his neglect I shot him right away!

This picture happened way back in '95, Nisargadhama, Coorg.

Later in the evening while visiting their Tibetan monastry in Kushalnagar I realised that most of them can't follow English and when they chose to speak they speak Tibetan language. Ten years later I find myself facinated by Buddhism and what it takes for that mysterious smile in his eyes.. 

Boxes and circles and boxes and...

Look for repeated patterns in the middle of a rather unglamorous event to create impressive images. 

Intersting patterns emerged out of this untidy bachelor pad when I started thinking in black & white. Check out the circles, ellipses and boxes repeating - in the cycle wheels, center table and quite surprisingly on the floor too! I decided to limit the boy just as part fo the view from inside.  The woven cane and linen screens add textures.  Distracting the viewer to details at the same time limting the main subject to its deserving prominence only.

Self portrait

Read more on shooting into the mirror 

On tilting frames

Note the door behind her for a vertical referance point. 
Unless I had titlted the frame she would have looked really bogged down by her thoughtful mood - perhaps making her look more sad than being contemplative. 

Here the tilt attributes some balance and confidence to the subject. 
I particularly adore that lost feeling in her eyes!

And quite flows the river...

The Beaver-like driftwood lends a suspenseful distraction to an otherwise, usual image from a riverside. Quite deceptively, the river refelcts nature in all its glory, like a sheet of glass. I said deceptively because hardly 50 meters up the river was at its turbulant best falling for about 15 feet, intercepted by tons of rock. A second look and you wonder what suddenly makes it appear so calm on the surface.

This one is among the first few shots in my first camera - hence a personal favourite too.

Killing times

It was this lonley huge temple in Kumbhakonam where the only visitors for that morning seemed to be us. The new generation of priests appeared to be perennially idlling away their time. Mostly they didnt even talk, leave alone chant. But whenever they did they did it so vociferously. An occasional devotee might find it terribly out of place or insulting in most such temples - of boredom. Note the indifferent posture of the figure in the foreground in contrast to the eager silhouette. Later, disinterestedly and dispassionately they even suggested that we spare some tip money.

My friend aghora tells me that the pillar to the left of the door represents the 'Kalasha, with the tree of life'. Well, through those ages life apparently overflowed with all its might that the rulers and artisans took it to themselves to document the celebration of life so profusely in these temples.

Visits to these temples are a gruesome reminder of our times where the depressing Salvador Dalis & 'Guernica 's happen to be what we are destined to treasure for the coming generations.

In the seat of eternal learning.

This old man was sititing beside me and reading shlokas in the saraswathi mandapam in Kollor Mookambika temple, south Karnataka. At this age was he also there in search of knowledge? I guess the quest is ageless. The same morning I had initiated my barely three year old son Hrishikesh into learning, drawing as well as photography in the same saraswathi mandapam.

It had been drizzling throught he day and the moist air adds a nostalgic glow to the light.

Nostalgic indeed it is. I was able to visit this temple- the enernal seat of learning - after longing to be there for so many years. They say unless the deity wishes so you will not be able to visit her, no matter what. Maybe this time she wanted me to and I could stay on for 3 days.

The template mast and the pillar oil lamp establishes the temple premises. The sacred chants printed on the cloth worn by the old man seem only natuaral.  

The voyeur backstage.

One of the many nostalgic images for many a men I'm sure. The onlooker is watching the finishing touches for a 'Theyyam' backstage.

The charm about most of the temple festivals in Kerala is that it follows rigth after your summer exams. Festivals are a rewarding reason to wrap up your textbooks for two months. The Drum beats, the freedom and enigma of late nights, the caparisoned elephants, the folklore, the fare, the fireworks...the works! And then you grow up and move away to cities. And lead rest of your life in longing...to come back.

The descend of these performers and their ritualistic ways of putting on costumes and make up is equally enticing and theatrical as the performance itself.

I wish I had waited till the performer turned towards me. But by then the onlooker would have left for the rest of 'the enigma' in waiting!

Want to share your experience here ?

Mediterranean blues in a south Indian temple.

There wasn't any cobblestoned pathways leading to this door and this wasn't shot in Morocco.
I composed this frame in a temple in Daarasuram(?).

Quite often it happens that you are caught within a composition of sorts wondering "but whats the subject?" Explore the best ways to bank on various possibilities available, like in this case the sheer drama of contrasting colours. Individually such elements may not evoke any interest but when juxtaposed appropriately could elevate the image to an artful expression.

Contrast is a phenomenon that extends to human relationships, emotions and thinking too! But is little accomodating than in art I guess! Wish life too were 'picture perfect'.

Lost, but not found.

Appearing as if in search of something, this bunch of bulls were in fact basking in the sunshine in a chilly morning in Thalakkaveri, Coorg. Meditative and sculptural they strike a pose that allows one to appreciate its dominant male form.

Bull and its virile male symbolism has its traces in mythology, astrology and contemporary business too. Gladiators, Lord Shiva, Taurians, Stock market...the imagery is vast and varied.

I think the low angle perspective enhances the dominating nature of the subject.

Use of silhouette takes away the unnecessary detail. Read more on silhouettes that elevates your subjects to art forms .

Siesta hour at Dakhsin Chitra.


At Dakshin Chitra, Chennai these ladies seemed to be killing time post lunch. Slowly I could close in and get on top of the ledge and look down through my viewfinder. They were steeped in chirpy discussion and scribbling Kolam patterns with chalk on the terracota tiles. Exchanging and experimenting new designs from each other was their way of killing time I learned.
Like many a custom
Kolam also subtly combines culture, tantra, mathematics, art, faith, worship and lifestyle into this South Indian custom for ages. Mathematics, as they draw around the various sets of dots placed methodically.

Though employed as sweepers, their design sensibilities clearly had a bearing on their work environments too.

When I asked them to "look up" from their ground realities, coyly they obliged.

Moments of laughter and forgetting.

Thats me in blissful abandon. For a change this one is not my shot, but is my shot.
A joyous reminder in life that those fleeting moments of extacy did exist!

Remember it was a rainy day in Fort Cochin, Kerala. Note how the backdrop with chinese fishing nets et all., give out the time and place. I was 'supposedly' lying on the tip of a fishing boat like the one you see in the corner.

I simply love the poster like composition of this shot by a friend.

Ashes and diamonds.

Some models have it in them, some don't.

I'm talking about the ability to communicate to the camera - directly. It is quite fascinating an experience when you come across one. For them just three 'people' exist: they themselves, the camera and sometimes the photographer. Personifying a machine to such levels can deliver some flattering results.

I remember that this teenager too was crazy in her own ways. Wanting to be a post-women one among them. Watch that attitude behind that gaze at the lens.

However, it is quite a task indeed to get such comfort levels from an amatetur. Gradually we learn that there is much more to it than exposure, aparture and shutterspeed while shooting people. Serendipity strikes only when you shift focus on the personality rather than the person.

Engaging the subject in an evocative conversation often helps, only if you don't get carried away.

The ultimate style diva and bollywood actress Rekha ( of Silsila, Ultsav...) gives her best shots while pouting at her own image in a mirror.


Check out how hair compliments character 

Reflections on the depth of illusions.

Yet another mundane subject. Want to cook up a story?

Well, but shooting into the mirror could be quite a shattering experience! Unless you focus on an illusionary point which exists beyond the mirror itself. Thats because the image in the mirror is an illusion that supposedly exists the same distance behind the surface of the mirror. Didn't get that, rigth?

Take this. The subject is 3 feet in front of you. The mirror is further 5 feet away from the subject but mirror, subject and you in almost one line. To capture the reflection of the subject you must focus 3' + 5' + 5' = 13 feet. That is a total of thirteen feet from you and into the mirror. Got it?

When you talk about the depth of a well, tunnel, ocean etc., you mean a tangible stuff. At the same time when you refer to the 'depth' of a person, his understanding, feeling or awareness its largely a matter of perception in our mind. Nothing tangible about it.
Isn't it a surprisingly similar a process that happens when your camera reaches forward to an illusion and is able to focus clearly on it?

Seems like camera also has a mind of its own!

Portrait of two 'missing' businessmen.

What is the subject you see in this image?
What I noticed was the sexy way these two trailors are locked up using just one lock!

Can't remember why I chose this angle some 9 years ago. I was not quite exposed to this 'zen school of photography' either. The harsh midnoon sun just burns out most of the foreground. The graphic nature adds to the intrigue. and this becomes a rather graphic portrayal. A tribute to the trust factor and bonding between two neighborhood businessmen. They possibly could be selling the same thing ( competitors!?) but returns home to this brotherhood and bonding. I quite miss something here!

I know it sounds a bit like a typical Hindi movie plot - brothers separted soon after birth and all that...but then thats the whole point. Imaginatively shot mundane subjects could help viewers cook up a story you see!

Stepping into someone else's shoes!

Ever noticed? Often, portraits singularly remain the photographer's persepctive and intepretation of his/her subjects. This over-the-shoulder peep shot tries to imbibe what the subject is experiencing instead. The temptation, the fear, the joy and mystery of her about to step into the pond of waterlillies suddenly becomes the spectator's too.
Very evocative and particularly poetic.

Accademically what is more interesting is its strange composition. Without tilting the camera the subject is placed diagonally in a rather straight frame ( note the subject in relation to the horizontal lines of the steps ). The bend torso does the trick!
Come to think of it, the three dimentional space intepreted in a two dimentional space can be pretty - complex.

Its a case of appreciating someone else's point of view - quite a virtue isn't it?