A photographer by serendipity, happy accident. Bought a second hand camera in 1977 it had a mission and a destiny for me like a magic talisman, no one would have predicted, least of all me that I would change my profession for the third time with it.
Why are you a photographer?
I wish I could answer that, some people have profound answers, I dont think I chose it, it chose me. I sort of like being led by my nose, well……..err……let my wife not hear that.
Do you remember any decisive moment when you felt ‘I want to be a photographer’?
No there was no Road to Damascus or some bolt of lightening, sorry I know its boring, its just one of those things, after a few years of making photographs, I looked back and said – gee, I must be a photographer, because I am not gardening, or in an office or whatever. Its always by ‘default’.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Oh yes of course, many, My Mother to begin with, and an artist friend Babla Senapati, were huge spiritual influences that I was aware of. Of course there were many more subliminal ones, like authors of classics, philosophers, literature, and spiritual gurus, India inspires me continually.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in photography?
Hard to give you one name, so allow me to give you a slew. Avedon, Bresson, Newton, Penn, Araki, Lachapelle, Cravo Neto, Recuenco, Tress, and many many many more actually.
How has photography changed over the course of the last couple of decades? Is execution/art direction more important than it used to be?
Photography sort of mirrors the times, it has become more explicit and with larger production values, of course there are so many genres of photography, so its hard to generalise, but societies values run parallel in the media. what one could not say 5 years ago one might be able to say today, generally its the other way around. here in our country its becoming more fascist. This I dont think is representative of society but political. Everyone plays one against the other, but what suffers is the art. It is becoming more a ‘stylists’ domain.
What do you think of the current state of Print Advertising photography in India? Is it at par with the work done worldwide?
The standard technically is very high and comparable, but the ‘idea’, the story-line, the concept, is severely lacking, this you see in Bollywood too. We are terribly unoriginal, everyone copies.
There is a certain sense of stylization in your work. Its almost like a signature. Where do you get your inspiration?
I buy a lot of books only to know what not to do. I continue to do what I do, because I have never seen anything like it. BUt that can become its own trap, one needs to move beyond ones own self, its like a reverse shadow, that leads you and you follow.
You have also Written a few books , could you tell us a little in detail about them ?
Written’ not sure about, authored, yes, done 4 books now, shall talk mainly about the book my wife an I collaborated on, Itinerants – mumbai’s nomads. This was started 13 years ago, and was completed some 8 years ago, its a long story best read on my blog. but the upshot is that we eventually decided to self-publish, for several reasons, not least of which is that the work was being copied happily by many, so we thought, enough is enough, lets just put it out there and move on. We loved doing the book and it has motivated us to never wait, just do what your heart dictates. Its easy to self publish now and even make a profit. See here and here.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit photography?
No never! But I cant honestly say I liked most of the advertising photography or meeting with the tribe of advertising people, felt that it was spurious, hype, spin doctoring, fake and inflated. Prefer gardeners, architects and dancers, you can tell quickly who is good and who isn’t. No need for much talk.
Any current work in Indian Advertising that you find exciting? Especially Print?
Shucks, I actually dont go looking for it, as it has not been exciting, creative or unusual, so my exposure is extremely limited.
Whats your dream project?
Rather not talk too much about it as its likely to be plagiarized again (see how paranoid I’ve become). But its just that, I am photo-illustrating my subjects dreams. And I’ve chosen only the dark and the macabre; the bright, shiny, happy ones are the stuff of indian advertising.
Who would you want to spend a dinner with?
Mughda Ghodse, Amrita Rao and Halle berry
Whats on your iPod?
Its an eclectic mix given to me by a young german musician, he gave me eurpoean funk rock and hip hop in strange languages, mixed with classical and pavaroti.
Mac or PC?
That is not a question. there is only one kind of computer. I am a cultist, and a mac person for many years now. Just believe in good design, dont like the prices, but think that it is a far superior product.