Baljit Singh is a Toronto-based photographer whose body of work is focused on telling the stories of the Sikh community and diaspora. Her photoseries capture the essence and bring to life the warmth, the unity, the diversity and the indomitable spirit of her people and offer us a glimpse into their lives and help us understand the values as well as the cultural nuances and idiosyncrasies that define them as people and as individuals. We spoke to Baljit recently in order to gain some insight into her creative process as well as how she conceptualized a shoot celebrating the maternal figures in her life.
Tell us a little about this project.
I wanted to highlight the importance of women in our lives. Whether it's sisters, motherly figures, or friends. They have given us life, an identity, courage, language, traditions, a safe space and abilities to dream beyond our wildest imaginations. There is an inherit understanding and knowledge of what we as women can do for each other that goes beyond generations, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The essence of sisterhood is nourishment to the soul. And to capture a moment between a grandmother and her granddaughter as simple as braiding each other's hair signifies the long history of resilience braided into each strand as a reminder to live life to our fullest potential.
Describe your creative process and the purpose with which you create.
My creative process is heavily linked to bringing the feeling of nostalgia into my images down to the method I shoot, which is analog/film photography. I also try to represent my community in my work as much I can and aim to showcase them in an authentic way. I really need to be connected too the story or purpose of the shoot for me to bring it to life as best as I can.
What are some of your biggest inspirations and influences over the course of your artistic career so far?
Music is a heavy influence especially qawwalis, sufi music and kirtan. Any devotional music to a higher poem/the universe always inspires me. Gets me out of the everyday micro rut and brings me to a place of expansiveness.
I'm also inspired by my creative sisterhood and how we are there for each other in the most vulnerable, dark, and joyous moments. To see each other evolve in our own creative practices but also be around to support one another is essential and a privilege to witness and be around as an artist.
What are some things you learned while putting this project together?
I learned that anything is possible if you just ask. Sometimes we get in our heads about certain concepts or things we want to do. And that can especially be very limiting as an artist. If you have an idea then go for it. Use the resources and people around you and make it happen. People are kinder and willing to help more than we think. You wouldn't get an idea or an opportunity if the universe didn't think you were capable enough to execute it.
Who are some artists who are currently on your radar?
Gurtej Singh, is a new up and coming singer, songwriter from New York. His voice literally transcends you to another world. I'm excited to see his journey as an artist!
Tell us about a project you wish you were a part of.
I don't know if there's a particular project but anything Karan Torani does is beyond this world. To even be a fly on the wall to witness him create magic would be enough haha.
You can follow Baljit here.