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article imagePhoto essay: Mumbai from a balcony

By Craig Boehman     Nov 25, 2015 in Travel
Mumbai - A street photographer at heart, I chastise myself when I don't get out enough in Mumbai to photograph its people and places. But with a new building going up within shouting distance of my balcony, I'm rediscovering India — from 10 stories high.
Workers preparing bamboo scaffolding.
Workers preparing bamboo scaffolding.
It's not easy to escape the noise and potential eyesores connected with new building construction here in Mumbai. Nearly every building I've been in has a view of some new construction happening nearby, a testament to an incredible infrastructure growth rate of over 5 percent each month over the past decade. This isn't a bad thing for a photographer, especially one living so close to the action. These snapshots were taken when the workers started putting up the bamboo scaffolding more than 100 feet off the ground.
Worker ties bamboo poles together.
Worker ties bamboo poles together.
It's amazing watching these workers as they climb out on these bamboo poles. Safety gear is minimal (what are hardhats?) and it's easy to understand why this is such a dangerous occupation given the standards of safety. In fact, according to statistics cited in a 2012 piece in Construction World, Indian construction workers have the most dangerous occupation in all of India — and the highest global accident rate in the industry — with 165 in 1,000 workers reporting injuries on the job.
Construction workers taking a break.
Construction workers taking a break.
I shoot all my pictures in RAW format and prefer processing them in black and white. This preference was established back in my school days when I had access to a dark room for developing black and white film and prints. My affinity towards monochrome is also strong because I feel there's a potential to open up intimate moments by eliminating the distraction of color.
Worker taking a break on the sixth floor.
Worker taking a break on the sixth floor.
Construction worker taking a break on the 12th floor.
Construction worker taking a break on the 12th floor.
Worker walking the construction site.
Worker walking the construction site.
When there's a theme tying images together (like this collection featuring shots from balconies) the choice between color and black and white comes down to the over all look of the image, first and foremost. The minimalist image above featuring a man strolling through what appears to me to be computer wallpaper, was an obvious candidate for color processing.
Women filling water from the local tap in Mumbai.
Women filling water from the local tap in Mumbai.
But there's more to the balcony view than the new building going up. Interestingly, there are the streets below which are at times spectacular from a bird's eye view.
Morning scene.
Morning scene.
Neighbors sleeping on rooftop.
Neighbors sleeping on rooftop.
Due to space limitations and sometimes the summer heat, residents sleep outside on their rooftops. And in the above image, I chose to showcase the color of the blankets by processing the rest of the image in black and white.
 Democracy At Last . Mumbai.
"Democracy At Last". Mumbai.
The above scene was shot off my living room balcony. When I looked at the initial results, I realized the gaping space in the middle could be filled with something else if I wished to venture into the realm of political art -- which I think I accomplished quite well by adding a parachutist sporting a giant American flag dropping out of the sky. Absurd, but fun!
Check out more of Craig Boehman's photography on his Flickr account.
More about PhotoEssay, Mumbai, India, Photography, streetphotography
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