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#ShutterBug: Picture perfect moments that will make you stop and stare

Eight Bazaar India contributors share photographs that spark joy and share stories that speak of gratitude, lessons, and the meaning of life.

At a time when we see the sights through our phone cameras and we constantly run out of space on our phones thanks to our galleries, picking one photograph may be tough. But then there are those that catch our eyes and hearts, and become repositories of the best stories. 

Victoria Krundysheva, Mumbai

“The idea of achieving goals as a collective is what brings me joy. For me, happiness is intrinsically linked to two aspects—connection with oneself and the environment around you. I think this picture, which I had photographed in Goa, is a fitting representation of these pillars—it expresses the space and freedom to be yourself and embrace who you are. When you arrive at that feeling, you blossom like a flower. And as you get to know yourself better, you connect with others. Thankfully, the work I do acts as a medium to connect with myself and those around me. This photograph was captured with an incredible team that shared an aligned vision and the excitement to depict the idea of joy. We decided on Goa as the location because the energy of the place resonated so effortlessly with our theme. However, the weather gods were not on our side that day: rather than sunshine, there were unexpected rain showers throughout. But while we were shooting, things began to work out even more in our favour... The final images manifested what we had intended to do, so beautifully. And this image was taken at the peak of our joy on that special day.”

Hanifa Haris-Taucher, New York 

“This image evokes in me the joy of Muslim sisterhood. These are two of my friends, who are among the strongest women I know, and I photographed this image in a state park in New York. The women you see here are content, excited, and enjoying their lives. Growing up in post 9/11 New York, many Muslim women in the west were exoticised and sexualised...but in the same breath, othered and deemed oppressed. Coming of age and experiencing this paradox, I needed to create a safe space for myself and the women around me. I found this through my creative process, where my art wasn’t touched by a foreign gaze, where we simply are who we are, existing majestically in our own light. Happiness, to me, is a myriad of emotions... It can be feeling content, excited, nostalgic, joyous, or ecstatic. When I think about it, I am reminded of the lyrics of a Punjabi song which translates to, ‘Through life, I carry the burden of my hardships, but that doesn’t stop me from finding joy.’ I often think about how happiness hasn’t always been a primary concern for me, but I realise that it really is essential to living a fulfilled life. Today, happiness, for me, has become a practice of gratitude... It is rooted in service to those I love—my friends and family, but most importantly, humanity.”

Jacky Nayak, New Delhi 

“I captured this photograph last February, in Joranda, Odisha. I had attended an annual ritual festival of the Mahima Dharma community, who believe in one, formless God. On my way back, I saw a child monk seeking the blessings of the Sun. I was eager to capture this special moment, which was draped in the last rays of the day. To me, this symbolised the powerful relationship between the young boy and the celestial body; a serene yet joyful moment that embodies happiness for me. Which, ultimately, explains the very concept of happiness itself... It is the state of being free and finding joy in every moment of life. Happiness lies in the moments where I can just let go and enjoy the present for what it is—nothing more, nothing less. It is the greatest expression of freedom.”

Dhruvin, Mumbai 

“Happiness is all about the little things I get to do... It’s unwinding with my friends on a lazy afternoon, free from any tension about what I have to do tomorrow. It’s how the winter recedes and when the sun is out, its soft rays fall on my skin. Happiness, to me, is when I no longer seek it. As a society, we have been obsessed with finding happiness, yet our quest never questions what happiness truly is. I think, happiness is not something you experience or obtain, it is something you do.''

Aditya Sinha, Mumbai

“Living indoors through subsequent lockdowns during the pandemic, my balcony offered a safe interaction with the outside world... I felt a series of emotions sitting by the window, but no matter how badly I may have wanted time to rush or pause, the birds still chirped, the leaves on the trees still rustled, and the sun still set. I found it humbling how the days kept moving at the same pace; it made me more comfortable with my own time. When I took this photograph, there was an unnerving, unmoving stagnancy that I felt desperate to change. However, it wasn’t until after I captured this image that I noticed the patience and anticipation that it captured. I decided to imbibe those feelings in my life and let go of the overwhelming urge to keep moving. Lately, my greatest source of happiness is the ability to be more patient with myself, which has made more room for experiences. This image speaks of joy to me as it represents a sense of serenity, but it also feels charged with anticipation. Photographing this emotion made that feeling more tangible and shared. To me, happiness means contentment—to be able to experience life with more anticipation and less fear. It’s being comfortable with the peaks and the valleys, knowing that joy, much like any other emotion, can be fleeting, but never truly gone. As the American poet Ocean Vuong puts it, “Too much joy, I swear, is lost in our desperation to keep it”.

Tirtha Lawati, United Kingdom

“This photograph captures my niece, Ayesha Gharti Magar, at our family abode, Rugby (a market town in eastern Warwickshire, England). My sister and I visited Ayesha and her elder sister Syana for a month, in February 2020, and I wanted to document their youthful years, when their minds are most filled with curiosity. The colours of the image set the tone and the atmosphere, but it was her playful characteristic that describes what happiness means to me. Happiness is about doing things that bring me joy, such as photography... It’s about sharing my work with my loved ones and being with them. Seeking happiness means finding the little things that bring you joy and fill your mind with wonder, even if it is for a little while...”

Hormis Antony Tharakan, New Delhi

“This photograph brings back a lot of memories—of meeting a man whose words stayed with me at a time when I was doubting whether photography was the right path for me. This was my first trip to north India in 2008. I stayed in Benaras for a while, where I met a kind, spiritual man who had come from France. I managed to visit him early one morning by the ghats, where the glorious streaks of sunlight fell on his beautiful home. The man was reciting the Vedas and I distinctly remember what a visually cinematic moment it was. I asked what he did for a living, and he shared that he had come all the way to Benaras to settle there and translate the religious texts to French. The man shared, “Whatever you do, you should do it fully and with love.” As I share this story, time seems to slow down in my mind, because this memory takes me back to the beginning of my career in photography. I didn’t know him nor do I remember his name... I didn’t keep in touch because the meeting only lasted 10 minutes. But his words stayed with me and I keep coming back to them, in work and in life. Later on, in February 2020, I decided to do a story on him for my personal work and called it ‘The Hindu’. I recreated that moment on the banks with my fellow friend and model Teejay Gill. The intention behind this staged photograph was to bring to life the exalted mental space of the ascetic... In fact, Teejay looks so spiritual and at peace in this picture. Through this image, I wanted to convey the story of a man who was grateful to God for his life. And for me, being grateful to life is the first step to being happy. During the lockdown, every morning, I’d thank God for giving me a chance to see another day. I truly believe that is how I survived during that time. Once you put yourself in a state of gratitude, happiness seeks you .”

Shivamm Paathak, New Delhi

“The surreal experience of being able to capture people in their element, as they light up against the canvas of nature, speaks happiness to me. The moment I captured this photograph, a sense of deep peace poured from it and settled upon me. It almost felt like a revelation; after all, our connection with the environment is primary. I wasn’t seeking this experience, but it happened... In a way, it was profound. It is the unanticipated emotion of noticing the world that brings me happiness. That is why, I am always looking to capture that split second and keep it safe with me.”

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