No photography

In India, I have become used to seeing rules disobeyed. One only has to watch road traffic to see plenty of transgressions.

However, usually regulations forbidding photography in museums and art galleries are rigidly enforced. While trying to sneak an illicit photograph in the Mysore Palace, my camera was temporarily confiscated. I was able to recover it by giving the official a small financial ‘gift’. A member of my family was asked to delete a couple of photos taken against the rules in the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Bangalore.

I was disappointed to find that the NGMA in Bombay also forbids photography unless it is for professional purposes, for which a fee of 1000 rupees (currently about £11) per image is levied.

The NGMA in Bombay is housed within a lovely old building, the Sir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall. Its contemporary interior, where artworks are displayed, is a lovely example of contemporary design. I was itching to photograph it. We asked one of the security men if I could take a picture of the general layout of the gallery without focussing on works of art. To my great surprise, he said that I could do it.

After viewing the whole gallery, where works of the socially conscious political artist Navjot Altaf were on display, I heard a visitor asking another official whether he could take ‘selfies’ in the gallery. He was told that he could not take selfies, but he could take photos of anything else in the NGMA. Again, I was surprised, not about the selfies, but about photography being permitted in a place full of notices forbidding it.

Well, I was pleased to discover that Indian flexibility about interpreting rules extends to the NGMA in Bombay. Hats off to the people who work there!

A bigger audience

During the 1970s and ’80s, I used to take pictures on my film camera using colour slide (diapositive) film. To enjoy these, they were best projected onto a good quality screen

Setting up the projector was quite a nuisance. Finding an audience amongst my friends was not always easy and, if they were willing to watch my slideshows, keeping them awake was also often difficult.

Turning the clock forward to the present era of digital cameras and the internet, the situation has changed. First of all, pictures may be easily uploaded on to the internet. Secondly, the existence of social media websites allows a far larger potential audience for one’s photos than ever before. Pictures can be posted on websites which are viewed by those with special interests or on others, like Instagram and Facebook, which allow the non specialised viewers as well as experts to see the images.

A wonderful thing about uploading one’s photos is that there are opportunities for viewers to comment on the pictures. This, I find to be very valuable. Other people point out things that I had not noticed or understood. I like this.

Unlike slideshows of the past, audiences can enjoy as many or as few of the uploaded pictures as they want without having to look at numerous slides politely whilst dying of boredom!