SALOON: A glimpse inside the world of the Indian barbers-shop where customers expect more than a just a haircut. New Delhi, India. ©Tom Pietrasik 2011
Towards the end of 2010, while photographing for a commercial client in New Delhi, I had to negotiate the not-insignificant challenge of working alongside a film-crew. I’ve been in this situation several times before but on this occasion there were six of them – directed by an Academy Award winner no-less; my assistant Sunayana and I were well and truly outnumbered!
I mention this because, I was struck by the crew’s use of a Digital SLR to capture video. The film team may have comprised half a dozen people, but they were employing the very same tools that I have at my disposal as a stills-photographer.
In this fast-converging world of still and moving images, many photographers are making the move into film-making. Indeed, last year I participated in an excellent training-course provided by the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) equipping journalists with the necessary skills required to produce short documentary films.
Others too are providing hands-on coaching to photographers looking to develop their movie-making skills. Among those from the UK whom I’ve been watching are Philip Bloom – who maintains a very popular blog here – and Dan Chung, a photographer who now devotes most of his time to film, crafting sequences that combine video with interviews, narration and music.
For Chung, the portability of DSLRs, combined with their ability to capture HD movies with a shallow depth-of-field, has given rise to a new medium he describes as “Cinematic Journalism”. Chung is clear to distinguish this new discipline from the TV reporting you might see on the BBC or CNN and I think he is right to say that “there is simply no point in trying to replicate their work”. His DSLR News Shooter website is a good place to start for anyone interested in exploring the movie-making potential of DSLRs.
For my first outing into the world of cinematic journalism, I spent a weekend observing the very serious-business of male grooming on display in a lower middle-class suburb of New Delhi. The movie, entitled “Saloon”, provides a glimpse inside the intimate yet very public space that is the Indian barbershop. I hope you enjoy it!