Can you name one thing in this world that can capture a thought and make it immortal? Music and lyrics capture emotions, words capture ideas, but what is it that can capture a thought? It would have to be a photograph.
A photograph, just like a painting, can speak volumes without saying anything. It is a memory frozen in time, a poem written in colors. "No place is boring," said Robert Adams for Darkroom & Creative Camera Techniques in May 1995, "if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film."
If you are making a word-cloud of all the words that come to your mind when we say the word 'urban', the cloud would contain such words as buildings, bridges, traffic, market, stores, lights, and of course, people. It would also contain some abstract words like noise, crowd, pollution.
However, the one thing that would be contained in the word-cloud and that would be significantly absent in its counterpart - a word cloud for 'rural' - that would be 'urban decay'.
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Urban photography refers to capturing the elements of the urban life on camera. Every artist must devote to finding the beauty in the world that lies hidden from the eyes of the common man and make it visible to him. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and it is the artist's duty to realize this beauty and portray it in his works.
We may not realize the beauty in the form and structure of the world that lies around us, and of which we are all a part. We may not notice it in the drill of everyday life. But an artist does see it, and that is why he is an artist.
Buildings signify urbanization. They are the single most stark contrast between the urban and the rural. Buildings may seem very dry and dull to us. But there lies beauty in this creation of man. The angles of a building, and the way light and shadow play hide and seek around their corners, all can make for wonderful picture.
Notice how the shadows have formed an interesting stripe-pattern on the entire building. It indeed looks very charming. Who would've thought a building could be depicted this way. Photographing buildings allows a great amount of space to experiment.
Bridges also make rather interesting subjects. A bridge can vary in degree of architectural complexity and hence, in the degree of structures and patterns it is composed of. But the true beauty of bridges come out when the sun comes up. Even William Wordsworth could not help appreciating the sight when he saw it.
The soft morning rays of the sun that fall on bridges light them up in spectacular ways. As the sun continues to rise, light and shadow continue to cast their spell on the structures of the bridge and on the quiet waters that run beneath it. It is a mesmerizing view; It can surely take your breath away!
While photographing bridges, it would be a nice idea to try to capture this very play of light and shadow. Always try to focus on either the bridge or the backdrop. Trying different angles can add interesting perspective and great depth to your photography.
We tend to associate traffic with noise, headaches, pile-ups, and of course, being late for work, or even a date perhaps. Now could you imagine playing with colors and actually creating a mood in a photograph of the traffic? No, right? But doesn't the picture shown here manage to do just that.
In the given picture, blues of the atmosphere are perfectly interrupted by the red lights of the taxis lined up one behind the other. The picture manages to perfectly and simultaneously denote two contrasts - motion and stillness. The fact that it is a picture of vehicles make us think of 'travel'. But the taxis are all standing still.
Traffic allows us to capture 'motion'. Playing with the exposure could also add unique effects to your pictures. The blurred lights of vehicles zooming past your lens could make a stunning photograph.
Landscape photography should aim at capturing expanses of the field. Taking a panorama shot could be a great idea too, while nighttime could also add to the elegance of an urban landscape, with all the lights twinkling like little stars! Another aspect of urban landscape could be urban decay photography.
Abandoned, deserted building could make for interesting landscapes. They can also be made into symbolic pictures. Urban decay photography - quite ironically - portrays the stark difference between the urban and rural life; nothing appears 'dead' on the rural backdrop, but an abandoned building looks more dead than a tree with no leaves.
Night lights look like colorful diamonds scattered on a black cloth... And if there is a water-body nearby, a lake, a river, it just serves as the icing on the cake.
Last, but not the least, it is the people that make a place; and so it would be unfair to leave out this aspect of photography. Urban life can be seen on the faces of those living it; the pros of it, the cons, the good parts, the not-so-good parts, the joy and happiness, along with the longing to be close to nature.
Your task as an urban photographer is to choose the right story, or make people see your story in the right way, the way you want them to see it! It is an art, at the end of the day; something you can only learn the basics of, but something you have to develop on your own, as you, and your art and skill mature.