The past two years have been nothing short of a rollercoaster, with more lows than highs. In strange times like these, art functions in a way like never before. It helps us feel things, gives space for comfort, and allows us the capacity to imagine.
For many photographers on the Indian scene today, the past two years have inspired them in ways both conscious and sub-conscious. While some drew direct inspiration and documented life in the pandemic, others looked for love in familiar spaces and some even turned towards it as a means of making a larger social commentary. Whatever the process might be, the reason was simple — self-expression and storytelling.
Inspired by this diverse and democratic nature of photography that has emerged in the past few years, we’ve curated a collection of photo series that caught our attention this week.
I. Second Lockdown In Srirangapatna by Lekha Rathnam
Photographer Lekha Rathnam’s speciality perhaps lies in her ability to capture emotive subjects. Rathnam’s created portraitures take on a life of their own because of the way they accurately depict a whole range of moods. The photoseries that caught our eye for this exact reason was Second Lockdown in Srirangapatna.
Talking about how the series came about Rathnam narrates, “I was at a friends resort in the month of May 2021 in Srirangapatna near Mysore city and ended up staying there for a month due to the second lockdown. I had the most amazing time there and these pictures were taken when a magazine contacted me and asked me to cover life during the pandemic but the whole project was scrapped due to unforeseen circumstances.”
“Every morning I used to go around the small markets in Srirangapatna just taking pictures of the people there. Everyone I approached was so warm and nice enough to let me make images of them. Since my forte is mainly fashion and portraiture this was a very new experience for me. I’m hoping to do more documentary/street photography in the future.”
II. 50 Years Of Marriage by Pranoy Biswas
For self-taught visual storyteller Pranoy Biswas, his knack for telling stories evolved through capturing life experiences, people, places, and engaging conversations. He believes he best does so through pictures and films that are honest, inspiring, and move someone emotionally. His long-term vision is to enable young storytellers and brands to create their most authentic stories.
Drawing inspiration from a familiar space of love and experience, that of his grandparents, his photoseries 50 years of Marriage wonderfully captures joy, love and the ups and downs that make a marriage. Of the series, Biswas says, “It’s to explore the memories with my grandparents. But if I had to put it in words, it was personal self-exploration through ageless images.”
III. Goodbye,Fairies by Shibani Mitra
Conceptual photographer Shibani Mitra has the ability to transport a person to an alternate world with her photography which also has an angle of social commentary to it. Her latest photoseries is titled Goodbye, Fairies.
Of the project, Mitra says, “My project is a result of the deforestation taking place in Auroville, Tamil Nadu. My uncle always told me fairies are the natural concomitant of a healthy forest. But what happens to them when the forest is cut down? My project depicts two fairies saying their last goodbyes.”
IV. My Different Isolations by Stella Barla
For 23-year-old NID photography student, Stella Barla, photography is a way of just trying to question the world through documentation in hopes of never finding the answers. Her latest photoseries that caught our attention is My Different Isolations.
Of the series, Barla says, “These series of photographs depicts what my different forms of isolation look and feel like while still being surrounded by millions of people. A long stroll alone makes me feel more alive than chattering voices all around me. The plants bring me comfort, dancing around the room unleashes my inner joy of being myself without the fear of being judged by strangers.”
V. Breaking Out Of Cacoon by Tanmay Sharma
Delhi-based photographer and videographer Tanmay Sharma believes his work exists in binaries. On some days he sees a colourful world and on others, there’s no colour. A direct result of this binary is his latest photoseries, Breaking Out Of Cacoon.
Talking about the inspiration behind the series, Sharma says, “The idea hit me in the middle of the night when I read a passage by Carol Muske-Dukes about her poem, Grief Dream.”
The passage reads, “This is a poem about grief. I’ve said before in my life that grief has no clock or calendar. It has no expiration date—we only learn how to live with it. Like memory, it is not locked in the past, rather an ongoing fluid phenomenon. I question ongoing grief, I return to the deceased, to meditate on them as if they still live—can still cause anger, passion, a sense of love and betrayal. ‘White washing’ the tomb is a false comfort; we honor the dead by remembering them as they were—and are. That is what I hope this poem manages to express.”
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