We’re used to seeing Monisha Ajgaonkar bustling around the indie gig circus, camera in tow, trademark colourful frames perched on the bridge of her nose. Blonde streaks of hair stick to her forehead, massive, toothy grins are tossed out with a generosity of spirit that few people are able to imbibe or ignore and the energy with which she moves from space to space has you wondering about how any of her pictures the next day are in focus, let alone so layered. Following her repertoire over the last few years, we realize we’d confined her abilities to dance floors, bass drops, neon lights and drunken portraits. The launch of her newly founded company, The Photo Diary, paints a far more dynamic picture of her artistry however.
With a webbed nexus of equally talented freelance photographers bustling with and around her, the company’s profile boasts quality photography across many streams—weddings, corporate functions, fashion portfolios and more. Homegrown’s Shreya Vaidya caught up with Ajgaonkar to pick her brain about the passion that drives her in an industry that gets more clogged every day.
1). At only 24, you have created a credible identity for yourself in the photography world. When did you develop a keen interest in this art form?
I started taking pictures with a Nokia 6600 in college and joined the JJ school of arts. This was about five years ago. It was also a phase wherein I was trying to subscribe to the idea of having a career. I had no other path in mind other than that of a Photographer. Picture-taking had become an event in itself for me by then and I was subconsciously framing all the time.
2). Your style is dynamic; you shoot for weddings, corporate, portfolios etc. In what way do you approach different themes?
It was easier for me to adapt to several genres of photography and also develop themes because I started my career as a candid photographer; the world of a candid photographer is a limitless one. Merging techniques, discovering one which works and thought processes that involve understanding angles, origins, story-like elements gradually followed up. The best part about this is that not a single shoot feels like the previous one.
3). What is your go-to-gear on a photo shoot?
I have a 5D Mark III and 50mm lens but I also prefer renting when the need arises. The selection of gears usually depends on the style of shoot and the shoot location. I prepare the equipment a day before the shoot after analyzing all the parameters involved.
4). What is the influence of digital technology on your photography?
Digital technology has changed the industry completely. The continuous invention of gadgets/lenses/bodies gives the chance to explore endlessly. You end up discovering something which was undiscovered. For genres like contemporary photography, this technology has been a boon. It makes me feel well-equipped to explore.
5). What do you think sets you apart from your peers in terms of your workflow?
I have a team of photographers (most of them free lancers) who are always uptight. I have chosen my photographers extremely carefully. They have a knack for the technology and an eye for art. As of now, my only focus is to let people know about my style. The competition is deeply integrated. It’s reached a point where one can only let their work speak for themselves.
6). Where did the idea of “The Photo Diary” originate from?
What started as a general discussion amongst friends became an organization in no time. Very few things remain timeless, able to shift contours & meaning depending on the framework. The Photo Diary aims to achieve that meaning.
7). Whose work has influenced you the most?
Bharat Sikka. As a beginner, one focuses too much on techniques and photo shop forgetting to discover a style,which defines them. I realized, non-interference form of clicking was something I strongly connected to. While many like to tease the subject, it’s really all about discovering your personal style.
8). What advice do you have for photograph enthusiasts who are looking to go professional?
Just get your gear, start clicking and understand your genre. Don’t just click any random subject and put it on facebook. Have an eye for your subject and the rest will fall into space.
Words: Shreya Vaidya
Images: The Photo Diary