Two Men, Old Delhi
Silver gelatin print with selenium toning 20 x 24 inches
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON, the undisputedmaster of street photography, once said, “Forme it’s a physical pleasure, photography. It doesn’t take any brains! It takes sensitivity, a finger and two legs.” Raghu Rai, a photographer who Bresson deeply admired, would perhaps readily agree with this point of view. Like Bresson, Rai’s work seems to be guided by a love for geometry and intuition. As this photo makes so clear, he knows exactly when to click his cam-era. The composition is a gift, not an imposition. Rai’s Two Men does what any provocative photograph must—it pleases you on an aesthetic level while frustrating you on a moral one. The straightness of one’s spine, we see, is not a function of gait. It is, instead, determined by immutable factors like class and fate. While many of the black-and-white street photographs that are being exhibited as part of the exhibition The Passerby (on display at New Delhi’s PHOTOINK gallery until 26 June) are similarly poignant, it is this one that proves hard to forget. We all must carry the weight of the world, it seems to say, only a few of us have shoulders for it.