There are photographs and then there are photographs. There are those which no one looks at. There are those which interest one for a moment, but are forgotten the next. There are also those which quite frankly leave one bewildered and trying to guess make sense of them for days. And then there are those which literally make ones eyes fly open and jaw drop. Such is the effect that Nicholas Courier’s photography truly had on you.I am not a photography aficionado. I have neither the skill nor eye to critically look at a photograph. Some, of course I admire, but most of the times I’m left wondering if I am a bit dim not to understand the meaning of a picture. So when I tagged along for the Alliance Frances photography exhibition I was thinking more about a jaunt to the nearbyConnaught Place
. It was a hot afternoon and the exhibition was in the open grounds. For some strange reason they had placed the photographs in black boxes, so that observers had to look down on them. I gave them a passing glance and then did an actual double take. All the photographs had been taken from an incredible bird’s eye view. Apparently this was Courier’s specialty. A sign explained how he rigged his camera to a kite, flew it from a
high point and viewed the scene from a ground monitor and remote. That was about all I understood of the descriptions. However, that was not important. The fact was that for the first time photography had actually left me breathless. The most beautiful scenes from all over
India had been captured by one man’s ingenuity. From the well known monuments to the most trivial little details, all had been laid out to capture the eye.Courier’s eye for the unusual stood out. There was a photograph of two warriors from south
India fighting on the beach. However the emphasis was on their shadows. The colourful costume clad men were diminished, but the leaping black shadows loomed large against the sandy shore. Exactly as a bird would have seen it when the sun was overhead. The timing was perfect. Another one showed a group of elephants bathing in a river. A common enough scene, but made larger than life by the photographer.
Delhi’s lotus temple lived up to its name, looking exactly like the budding flower it is supposed to. The
Victoria memorial looked as if it was teeming with ants. On looking closer it was actually the every day Mumbai crowd. The photographs of beaches, fishing communities, melas were all a psychedelic whirl. They were full of the many colours of Indian clothing and decorations. However, the queer thing was that the Taj looked diminished if anything. It was rather funny how the same photographer could aggrandize two fishermen shaking out the silvery slew of their day’s catch, yet make
India’s most beautiful monument look ordinary.I left the exhibition with a curious sensation; as if I had been the bird that flew all over
India capturing those images in my minds eye, and now someone had laid them bare for the world to see. Courier had made even a layman like me feel the beauty in photography. I was finally ready to admit it as art. And for the first time someone as in love with the written word as me was say that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.