I joined Instagram about a year ago out of curiosity. My initial dip into the platform seemed unfriendly because of the onslaught of pictures of feet, food and frappes. At the time, I didn’t understand the social connection of Instagram and was dismayed by what I saw.
What kept me using Instagram was my curiosity about how people saw Milwaukee. I created my account and lurked afraid to put my content out there.
I consider myself an amateur photographer and have been taking pictures for over a decade. I know my voice and my photography is my visual diary. I tend to be an optimist and that mindset pushes me to look for the light in the darkness. One perspective is never right and I look to capture my subject from multiple angles. Textures, grain, grit and the imperfections that occur naturally in the world are beautiful to me. Symmetry is not important in my life, but important to my pictures. I use symmetry to contrast a subject and to appreciate the different elements that make up the symmetry.
As I began to wade into Instagram, I found myself taking pictures I didn’t care about. I posted images that I thought my followers would like and not what was true to my voice (or sight). I found myself frustrated and angry that my “followers” couldn’t see my talent. I had lost sight and was caught up looking for approval from strangers. Fear of losing my voice (sight) forced me to pull back and reevaluate what was important to me.
I started to follow instagrammers in Milwaukee I found interesting. Mke_illgrammers was the gateway to all good instagrammers in our city. I found a community of photographers who were proud of their city and didn’t see themselves in the shadow of Chicago. They had confidence, swagger and most importantly an eye that made our city look amazing. I attended my first instameet in March of 2015 and began an artistic journey that changed my life. Photography on Instagram is about connecting with photographers who inspire me and want to find the beauty within Milwaukee. They are gracious with their time and always willing to help other photographers improve their skills. Instagram wasn’t a silo but a silo buster. It took me out as a consumer and made me a creator.
Choosing 5 images I wanted to share with you was a difficult process. How do you choose between your children? Five elements manifest themselves in my photography: water, light, dark, reflection and architecture. The basic theme of my photos is to find the light in the darkness, the grime and the grit of the world. Most of my pictures are taken on my iPhone. The iPhone is a powerful tool and I learned to hone my skills by practicing without guilt. I can take as many pictures as I want and then edit them at my convenience. I have put in 10,000 hours taking pictures and it has all been a labor of love. I also look for beauty in the unexpected. Photography is an opportunity for me to change my perspective and to see beauty in unexpected places.
I love puddles. Puddles may be an inconvenience to many of us but to me it is a photographic goldmine. At the surface, a puddle seems dark and unseemly. Upon closer inspection and depending on the depth of the puddle, there are some interesting textures at play. The surface covered by the puddle could be speckled asphalt or gritty concrete. Leaves and other debris add complexity to the textural layers. I also don’t know what I am seeing until I get my camera close to the puddle. If you get low and close to a puddle, it will reflect a part of the world we take for granted. If done correctly, the puddle should show two worlds above and below the surface.
I want to show my appreciation to the Duck and Owl blog for giving me the time to share my art with you. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram (mke_rishi).