Everyone who has a cellphone has turned into an amateur photographer. Most of the pictures land up on social media and the number of “likes” they generate indicates how even bad photos are lapped up by netizens. Thank God It’s Saturday (TGiS), a group of people in Bengaluru who promote good photography and bring depth to the art of shooting pictures, hopes to change this.
Every Saturday, a group of enthusiastic photographers meet at the Bangalore School of Arts and Photography (BSOAP). For them, TGiS is a platform for pursuing their love for photography. This is an exclusive group of amateurs and professionals who—along with their mentors—have formed a creative space and learn how to use the full potential of the camera.
Shankar Subramanian, 45, founder of TGiS who trained under photographer and BSOAP’s director Anand Sharan of BSOAP, says, “I realised that there was no opportunity for people to practice the art of capturing images and as lot of people wanted to pursue this, we started a forum on Facebook. Starting in 2010 with just five members, today we have 850 members. We regularly weed out those who are not serious and are inactive.”
TGiS comprises doctors, physiotherapists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, IT professionals and many others who are passionate about photography and are keen to learn the practical side of it. Sessions are held every Saturday from 8 to 10 am, when natural light is best for shooting pictures. Out of 850 members, 10-12 have turned professional photographers.
“We are a group of individuals coming together for a practical experience,” says software professional and TGiS member Venkatraman P, who is doing his basic photography at BSOAP and has been with the group for one-and-a-half years. “The Saturday sessions are focused and we interact with well-known mentors and get to know each other and discuss our interests. My interests are portraits and landscapes and these sessions enliven our lives as we go in a group to capture images based on discussions and interactions. I am clicking better now.”
The group was named TGiS as they get time to photograph only after Friday, with most of them busy in their professions. Subramanian adds, “The purpose was to provide a supportive and nurturing space for serious hobbyists who have passed out of BSOAP and to practice their new skills. We don’t charge a fee as it is not a commercial group. We do not want to be bogged down by hierarchy or money issues.”
Sharan, co-founder of TGiS adds, “It is probably the only group in Bengaluru that offers great opportunities to students of photography to practice their skills under the guidance of experienced mentors.”
Subramanian says that their Facebook page is “very active and anybody can see our efforts as all practical sessions involve shooting a theme, pick up the best, discuss the selected works and prepare our members for competitions”. He recently won the International Color Awards 2015 (the industry’s most important event for colour photography) for his portraits of Kerala and the Pushkar Fair. He adds, “Photographers should not disturb the environment, they should blend in with it. TGiS influences members to follow the dos and don’ts of ethical photography, a value system in capturing images, especially when visualising people.”
TGiS raises money through public exhibitions, which is used to support causes like an eye hospital, patients afflicted with multiple sclerosis, books for children, etc.
Subramanian adds, “We print and frame pictures at our own expense and display them at our exhibitions.” The last two exhibitions in 2014 raised Rs 2.5-3.5 lakh, which TGiS donated towards social causes.