“For me photography is definitely a great medium to document the truth.
And I do travel a lot photographing the culture and festivities, because it offers a beautiful insight into the varied culture and multifaceted communities that coexist in our country. However, I am on a journey of discovering certain answered and unanswered questions, and this, I guess, results in my photography”.
Udit, your photography covers several genres: editorial, portraiture, travel, lifestyle, abstracts, fine art, advertising, social documentary etc. Which is your favorite genre and why?
I have never been fond of defining my photography through a clutter of genres. Photography to me is more of a form of personal creative expression of the visual world around me. It could breed from any stimulus that I can gather – motion pictures, music, literature, current events, personal experiences, philosophy, design, art, and even friendly conversations. In short, it’s how I visually react to the world around me.
My corporate stint with the erstwhile ICI Dulux Paints, now AkzoNobel, had imbibed in me a sense of color, the play of its hues and tones and the effect of light on color itself. I also believe that Photography has the power to communicate and that is what I try and bring out in my imagery. Sometimes, there are visuals that speak to me and draw me to click them, sometimes this is still life.
These days it’s mostly people. I am a peoples’ person and a curious one at that too. I like to peep into their lives at times, to try and catch a glimpse of what they might be like and what they are about. I am the curious questioning kind and I try and find my answers from the world around me with my photographs.
Yes, I have a thing for abstracts too, but this is very design oriented, more towards the form and shape aspects in my subject matter. I believe that the human mind is innately attuned to identify form and shape. I try and look beyond these and I see a whole new world of forms and shapes in random subjects. However, I prefer working on certain identified thoughts that emerge from my experimentation of a subject.
Maybe I am on a journey of certain answered and unanswered questions, and this, I guess, results in my photography.
In your assessment do you consider photography as a gateway to researching into social problems, or else it’s just significant in itself?
Photography is definitely a great medium to document the truth around us. To state that India is free of social problems would be to turn a blind eye to the issues we have at hand. India is a developing nation. And in any developing nation there are bound to be social issues.
Be it environmental issues of water, land scarcity, global warming or issues relating to child abuse and labor, human trafficking, migration, social inequality (and inequity), effects of industrialization, urbanization and modernization, and in India more recently, the acceptance of homosexuality by the law clearly point to the power of the medium of photography. Photographers practising social documentary photography mostly tend to showcase the subjects not as objects of exoticism but as living, breathing organisms that deserve every bit of compassion and concern. And the objective of these photographs is the desire to bring about political and social change.
As citizens practicing photography, it becomes a medium of choice to help improve the world we live in.
Be it, Atul Aggarwal, an artist who uses the medium to address issues on water or art photographer, Sunil Gupta, whose work is around issues of homosexuality and its acceptance or Ravi Aggarwal, another environmental photographer whose work on the vultures is praiseworthy. Pablo Bartholomew and Ryan Lobo’s work on the third gender are also path breaking. I am inspired by these photographers who bring about social change through the reformative power of the lens.
Even in the West, photographers like Diane Arbus or Tina Barley worked on the issues of social inequality. Sebastiao Salgado’s work on migration and industrialization is noteworthy. In fact, Sociology Professor Lewis Wickes Hines was appointed by the National Child Labor Committee in 1908 to address the issues on Child Labor in USA and his work in the early 20th Century served as a wakeup call to the nation. In that sense, photography is nothing but a profound exercise in archiving memory.
I guess the edge photography has, as a medium to address social issues is, its documentary and archival nature and the truthfulness in it. This not only creates awareness about a neglected issue but also forces the people empowered to bring about that change.