Nirvair Singh Rai and his photograph of people celebrating Holi.
Immerse yourself in the artistic worlds and distinct creative lenses of Hunar Daga, Arka Patra, and Nirvair SinghNirvair Singh Rai

Arka Patra, Hunar Daga, & Nirvair Singh Rai: The Creative Chaos Of 3 Indian Photographers

Last-minute changes, acquiring equipments, priorities shift, processes morph – there's many things happening behind the scenes of a photography project. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in photography.

We're going beyond the filtered feed, into the whirlwind that is a photographer's mind. This journey, as diverse as the photographers themselves, takes us on an exploration of the human experience– a multitude of cultures, emotions, and stories waiting to be captured.

Arka Patra, Hunar Daga, and Nirvair Singh Rai – each artist brings a unique background, shaped by personal experiences, passions, and philosophies. With their vast perspectives, there is one thread that ties them all. Together, their work brings together cultural influences, societal norms, and the complexities of human experience into contemplative and visually arresting stories. Today, we take a peek at these three artistic lenses.

1. Arka Patra

Arka’s story into photography wasn't a straight shot. With a background in painting and sculpture, photography became a natural extension of his artistic exploration. Growing up outside a major city instilled a strong sense of cultural connection in him, which is evident in the rich symbolism and narratives portrayed throughout his portraits. 

Arka’s work delves into the complexities of human desires, sexuality, and masculinity. Inspired by classical art traditions from both East and West, he creates a surreal dialogue between these influences and the realities of his surroundings. Juxtaposing cultural norms and societal expectations of gender and sexuality, his photographs challenge traditional narratives.  

"Culture is an ever changing landscape," says Arka. He believes sexuality and gender expression vary across cultures. "Take the color pink. In some places, it might be seen as feminine, but in Rajasthan, you see men confidently sporting pink turbans."

"These dichotomies interest me greatly, which leak into my visual language."
Arka Patra

The creative process for Arka isn't confined to grand muses. Inspiration strikes in unexpected ways. " It could be something as mundane as broken crockery or an incomplete conversation with a stranger on social media," he reveals. His series, "Like Eggshells," perfectly exemplifies this. Inspired by discarded eggshells, the series explores the concept of masculinity as a hard shell, ultimately fragile and fluid. The symbolism is further enriched by the egg's association with femininity in certain cultures.

The creative spark is just the beginning. Once an idea takes root, Arka dives into research, selectively collecting props, sometimes even creating them himself. The process then evolves to include finding the perfect models and designing the overall aesthetic.

"Everyday we are flooded with images and video reels of extraordinary proportions. In that crowd if my images can stand out and give a sense of wow at first and be relatable in a rather intimate way, I feel my objective is accomplished." 
Arka Patra

Arka hints at exciting future plans for his personal work. “The future plans are to create bigger grander sets and do much more detailed work. This will require the investment of time which is fleeting,” he shares. “But I’m working on it.” 

Follow Arka here.

2. Hunar Daga

For Hunar, the camera is a passport, a tool not just to capture sights but to experience cultures, emotions, and the very essence of a place. Her work, driven by light and infused with feeling, carries the viewer beyond the postcard view.

Fortunately Daga's passion for travel and art converge flawlessly in her photography. "It fuels both," she explains, the camera a bridge between exploration and artistic expression.

When I’m travelling I’m always on the lookout for some character in the place. It’s people, culture, food and the golden light in the evening really inspires me to step out and chase it. I love how it transforms the place itself and gives it a new identity."
Hunar Daga

Light and emotion are central to Daga's artistic vision. Daga's inspiration often comes from the places themselves, particularly during documentary projects. "Naushad's textile documentation story," she reveals, "was heavily driven by the places we traveled to, each with its own unique character." While a basic mood might guide her, inspiration can also strike from observing the works of admired artists, translated through her own lens.

Daga's signature style is characterised by capturing small details and the nuances. This approach comes from a deep attentiveness to her surroundings. "Sometimes leaving your camera and just observing helps," she shares, "Details is what makes a place and also have its own character..."

"I prefer being left alone with the subject/space I am in to really look and capture the solitude of the place. "
Hunar Daga

Daga is drawn to artist’s ability to capture realness and simplicity while creating imagery. However, her greatest source of inspiration remains travel itself, the constant exploration that fuels her creative fire.

Follow Hunar here.

3. Nirvair Singh Rai

Nirvair Singh Rai is a photographer whose work spans a multitude of genres, including documentary, fashion, and wildlife photography. When asked how he navigates between these varied genres, Rai explains that they are all about ways of seeing and understanding the world.

"Rather than in unexpected ways, different genres do get informed by each other unconsciously. Art is not an artifact, it's a part plucked away from the whole."
Nirvair Singh Rai

Rai believes that sensitivity is a continuous process. Creating a photo series or film involves a deep engagement with the subjects, treating them as individuals rather than objects. "The more one engages with the subjects as individuals rather than objects, the more it informs the work which goes on behind the scenes," he says. He emphasises the importance of spending time with people, learning their ways, and integrating their lives into his work. This close interaction sets the tone for his projects, allowing the subjects' perspectives to shine through the images.

"The behind the scenes pulse includes everyone and everything. All role players as individuals. "
Nirvair Singh Rai

Inspired by Punjab's traditions and the multiculturalism of Dhaka and Mumbai, he uses his work to promote social harmony and a better future. These narratives, rooted in values of hard work, prayer, and sharing, serve as significant pointers for a better future, both locally and globally.

"For art to be pulsating; a living juxtaposition of life, it has to be inhabited by and situated in life itself."
Nirvair Singh Rai

An expert in both film and photography, he sees them as intertwined. Photos, silent and deliberate, demand strong visuals and composition to tell a story in a single frame. Viewers, then, become the storytellers, weaving their own narratives. Film, with its sound and movement, is more accessible, but leaves a fleeting, snapshot-like aftertaste. Ultimately, film and photography become one another in the viewer's mind.

"A film is more amenable in my opinion but it's the afterlife of both mediums where each becomes the other; like how a photograph feels like a film in the mindspace of the viewer and the film becomes a snapshot."  
Nirvair Singh Rai

Rai pushes art beyond galleries, making it interactive and accessible in public spaces. Here, art escapes rigid interpretations and sparks dialogues with everyday people, becoming a true public conversation.

Follow Nirvair here.

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