The old adage taught us a picture speaks a thousand words, but in the 21st century, they do more than just that. Photos have emerged as a point of convergence of practically every sphere of life, being proof of stories and lives that have been lived. As tales from the world of nature, wildlife, fashion, human simplicity, festivities, and sex fill up our feeds, there are some pictures that never leave our minds. A photographer captures not just a picture, but a memory. Bingedaily spoke to 9 photographers, and they share one picture that changed them forever.
Kanwar Pal Singh
Brought up in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, Kanwar Pal Singh, was always been inspired by the beauty of this 1000-year-old town and its ethnicity. Being enchanted by everything the town held, Kanwar wanted to capture this magic. His father would click and develop the pictures himself, and Kanwar was astounded someone would go to such great lengths in the 80s! With the support of his parents, his mentor Amit Vakil and love for photographs, Kanwar went on to great heights.
“Photography is an art for me. I have always been an ardent lover of travel and exploration, and with the appreciation and recognition I began receiving, I decided to turn this love into a profession.” Kanwar has been amongst the top 10 amateur photographers by NDTV in 2016 and has worked with companies like Zostel, TVS, Mountain Goats, Royal Enfield, National Geographic India, Vivo, and WanderOn.
Clicked in 2017 while documenting the ethnic, pastoral community - the Gujjars from the higher regions of Chamba, Kanwar says the picture is one of his best clicks. “I was living with them for a few days. While I made way for their way of life, they understood my ways too and slowly got used to my presence. One day while saying their usual evening prayer, I saw the sun’s rays falling on their faces, and illuminating them.” Kanwar took advantage of this perfect light and when the picture went viral, people from all over could not take their eyes off it. In that purity of the moment, Kanwar found a picture that stayed with him forever.
A 23-year-old freelance photographer, Nikhil Tomar strives to bring out the best with his photography. An unending passion for capturing images motivated him to reproduce his emotions and perspective in his pictures. “It’s not just a picture you click, but a moment you create,” says this photographer, who with his clicks has captured the hearts of many and gone on to receive grants, the likes of Ian Parry Scholarship 2016, Getty Images Prestige Grant, 35 photo awards (Russia), Canon PhotoMarathon, etc.
“I love exhibiting street life, the quirks of every day, portraiture, travel, landscape and more in my work.” Nikhil’s work has recently been published on various online platforms and selected for an exhibition ‘The Clix’ in Pune and at MHRD exhibition.
“The above image justifies my style of art which is minimalist and travel photography. The picture reflects a dreamy world, the milestones I have achieved and the long way left to go.” Art according to Nikhil, is one such a thing which one can relate to. Every moment, every memory is encapsulated in the picture. “There is so much to learn and I just want to keep doing that each day.”
Looking for an adventure in the crevices of the normal, Burhanuddin Hirani’s passion begins where pictures from different worlds overlap. “Behind a lens is my favourite place to be. The world is an empty canvas that I can paint the way I like. Capturing the simplest things around me with a dark visual, I hope to grow better each day.”
“In the words of Ellen Perry Berkeley, every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat. The above-captured picture is a tribute to women who break the glass ceiling of patriarchy every day,” says the photographer. “Like cats, women were worshipped a hundred years ago too, and some can never be forgotten.”
“I’m in love with the old perforated window and the light coming through it contributes to the divine feel of the picture,” says Mahendra Bakle, a photographer. We wondered aloud why the image has impacted him and is one of his favourite clicks, but Mahendra couldn’t seem to point out just one reason. “It’s an interplay of factors. There’s a heavenly feel to the picture, mellow lighting, and the monks...well, they are the highlight. The picture would be a normal one without them.”
Mahendra is an illustrious photographer inclined towards clicking the mundane, everyday stills of people’s lives. A winner of the 2019 Eyewinawards Gold and a recipient of the award from China Tourism, he has been passionate about capturing scenes in the Indo-China region and Southeast Asia regions. “I love capturing the innocence of these people’s lifestyles,” he says as he speaks of the picture being able to convey a special message and take you back in time to that very moment.
Searching within himself and the world outside to create new art through his lens, Ajai AL’s love for photography has transgressed and led him to travel places. “I have travelled to over ten countries in the past three years, collaborated with brands like X1Race, BharatBenz and XIAOMI India, and I owe this to my love for photography. I aim to capture and document the beauty of the world and showcase it to as many people as I can.”
Describing the picture above, this photographer says it showcases the tribal community residing in the banks of Pechiparai dam. “The boat ride is their only mode of transport, compelling them to travel to the nearby town for work or school. The waterway transit takes place twice a day, morning and evening and I captured the picture on the way back home.”
Having fallen in love with photography during his MBA days, Prudhvi Chowdary sees photography as an expression of himself. “Travel and photography broaden one’s view of the world. In this process of experiencing cultures, meeting people from other communities and seeing the beauty and ugliness, both, of the world, I have come to understand that all our lives are interconnected.” This photographer has begun to appreciate his home and culture and people across the various lands he’s been to. “I have become a much more tolerant person as a result,” says this photographer.
With pictures featured by National Geographic India, Canon Asia, Conde Nast Traveller India, BBC Earth, Lonely Planet India and been listed as one of the Top 100 Incredible Passionate Photographers – World 2018 by Palsmaniaa, Prudhvi says life is a high. “Through my photography, I seek to document my own personal experiences, capture scenes and events as I see them, and share my country’s beauty and diversity with others. As the images of other photographers have inspired me to explore the world, I hope my own contributions will inspire others to do the same.”
The picture above, was shot by this photographer after completing his trip to Leh Ladakh. Feeling downcast about leaving such a beautiful place behind, he gazed out of the window and what he saw was the most magical sight ever. “Flying over the Himalayas with mountains covered in mist and snow was indeed an experience of a lifetime. I could see the Nandadevi peak at the top right and well, if you look at it closely, it sums up how small our problems appear in this big wide world.”
“I see photography as a mode of complimenting my passion of travelling and exploring unknown places,” says Rishabh Paliwal. Speaking about the picture below, he says “those gleamy eyes remind me of the privilege I am born into and carry with myself, the things we take for granted while these children struggle for it every day. They remind me of how tragedy has caused them to grow up way too early, of all the dreams and aspirations unfulfilled because they are born into such hardships.”
“I am always eager to meet new people and learn about their respective cultures,” muses this photographer who sees a picture as a narrative of life itself. Sometimes even specks that seem too minute to have an impact, end up teaching you more than you could ever hope for.
“Every image a photographer clicks is an outcome of an inner and outer interaction. The moment is always significant, not only because of its beauty but also the feeling, life lessons and perspective,” recounts Jitendra Singh, who during his life experiences fell for photography and capturing moments around him.
This photographer while describing the picture that has stood out from all his other clicks, says the shot is special to him as he is from Jaipur. While clicking shots of the famous Teej festival, Jitendra followed the fire artist right from the time he was getting his makeup done behind the city palace, an hour before the Teej Mata Royal procession was to begin.
Jitendra is ecstatic as he reminisces the time when the shot went up on social media, and praise started ringing in from all over the world. Proud of his culture having gone viral, Jitendra says the picture made it to the official Instagram pages of GoPro and many more. “I started receiving messages from people overseas about this particular fire artist and how soon they could get him to perform for them. The wide-angle view, the burst mode, the apt action and the output intertwined themselves to give birth to a picture that changed my life.”
On its two dimensional plane, a picture manages to preserve a moment, create a frozen magical space in time, and manage to convey decades later the significance of that very instant. Speaking about one such image that he can never get out of his mind, Shubham Sharma shares one he clicked of the Kumbhar community. “The art of pottery that gave meaning to the life of these people is now ruining their lives with the business mafia involved. They still manage to survive. Generations of them live on that land, right from those in their dote age to those learning to walk.”
Shubham was in the area looking for scenes to capture that would in time convey what he was seeing when something struck him. The pollution was intense. With factories having spread their tentacles around the area, furnaces are in the spaces within homes, and ‘normal’ life is hard to come by.
Albeit protests by the Kumbhar community, there has been no reduction in the number of the furnaces being brought up. “The people of this area wake up to smoke every single day. An art which was meant to foster their spirit is now slowly killing them. This picture made me think,” says the photographer. Shot in Kumbhar wada, a community of potters also called 'Kumbhar samaj' (in the picture) can be seen trying to navigate through the smoke.
“Life is about capturing raw stories off the streets, and photography has turned from a passion into a profession.”