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Photography just happened to this passer-by


A photograph by Anup Mathew Thomas

IT WAS a visit without any agenda, as he puts it. In May 1999, a young man from Bangalore travelled through Europe as a passer-by curious about all that was new and different. He just strolled along as a newcomer walking the streets, observing the people, the spaces.

Of course, young Anup Mathew Thomas had a camera slung around his neck as he wanted to pursue photography. But he did not pause, wait and anticipate. He just found himself getting attracted to the everyday, not the sophisticated face of Europe he had imagined till then.

``I shot pictures spontaneously -- the new and the old, the young and the aged going about their daily chores, juxtaposed with buildings and monuments,'' says Anup. "I was in a foreign land. There was no deliberation, no pre-meditated ideas about what I would shoot.'' What has resulted from that visit is an exhibition he calls "Passing By'' and which after travelling to Thiruvananthapuram, Pondicherry, Chandigarh and Bangalore will now be mounted in the Capital from June 25 to July 2 at Alliance Francaise de Delhi.

Yes, 24-year-old Thomas has always had an abiding interest in photography and in January 2001, he had photo-documented counselling and support services that Samraksha -- a non-governmental organisation for HIV/AIDS prevention and care -- provides. This was exhibited at the OXFAM General Assembly in Loughborough, the U.K., the same year.

``When I visited Europe the first time three years ago, I wanted to use the opportunity to further my interest in photography,'' says Thomas, who holds a design diploma from the Bangalore-based Shrishti school of Art Design and Technology. "Over the previous year, I had been taking pictures occasionally and by then I had a reasonable grasp of the technicalities of the medium.''

In "Passing By'' the frames seem to present themselves naturally to Anup. "I was clearly the outsider, I wasn't pretending to be otherwise. Yet I was as unobtrusive as possible, sometimes freezing the moment without raising the camera to my eye.''

Anup admits that the urge for photography comes from the fact that he likes creating images, observing the emotive interplay between the elements and characters before him. And in this respect, he hopes that his camera reveals certain nuances of Europe that might have otherwise escaped him on such a transitory visit.

By K. Kannan

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