Mihir Hardikar is a Mumbai based commercial photographer with a focus on food, beverage, product & people photography.
After graduating from Sir JJ Institute of Applied Art, he went on to study at the Light & Life Academy in Ooty
where he specialised in different disciplines of photography.
Apart from his commercial work, he loves to swim, travel, try out different cuisines, street and sophisticated and dreams to taste local food from across the globe.
Why are you a photographer?
Don’t really have a philosophical or profound view on this.. It was just a natural progression from art college to specialisation to full time profession.
Do you remember any decisive moment when you felt ‘I want to be a photographer’?
Lots of small events/moments. In JJ, while studying applied art I saw an Altoids Mints campaign by Tony D’ Orio & a Levi’s skinny fit denims campaign by Nadav Kander in Communication Arts and Luezer’s Archive and was amazed at photography as a visual medium of communication. Then, while slowly getting to know about the field, I got a chance to be on sets of a fashion shoot by Tejal Patni. Also, it was early days of digital medium format photography while I was still studying film in college. I found the whole process of a commercial shoot very fascinating. Then I guess, the most important one came when Mr. Iqbal Mohamed and Anuradha Iqbal came to JJ and gave a presentation on the photography course at their college, Light & Life Academy in Ooty. He showed us an image of Raighad fort which he had shot at night and light painted the whole picture. I just wanted to know & learn how he achieved that and ended up enrolling there post my graduation and an interview.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
An uncle in the family, some alumni from college etc. No one famous or singular in particular.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in photography?
Directly, Mr. Iqbal Mohamed has been the greatest influence who taught me. Indirectly, photographers like Nadav Kander, Steve Mc Curry, David Loftus, Gregory Crewdson and a lot of photographers whose work I have followed over the years. And currently, the food stylists, art directors and clients I get to work with influence my work.
How has photography changed over the course of the last couple of decades? Is execution/art direction more important than it used to be?
I have been around for less than a decade but I feel the change that has mainly come is that its more accessible now because of digital. Photography will always be about the vision of the person behind the camera, no matter what era or expertise. All levels of photographers have avenues to showcase their talent/vision. Wether it is Instagram, online competitions, gallery work, etc. But there is a vast difference between someone who wants to pursue it professionally and someone who is a serious hobbyist. Film days had its own challenges & fun. But I am from a generation of photographers who were on the cusp of film and digital, so I take the liberty to speak for both. Learnt on film and applied on digital. Also, the business of photography is changing. Technology sure does help in getting great results, but I feel more than your vision or style, now its about budgets in photography.
Art direction has been and always be an important and integral part of photography. But time constraints cause of budgets or faster roll out of deliverables because of digital technology hamper the creative process many a times. It is not the case always, but majority of the times it does happen.
What do you think of the current state of Print Advertising photography in India? Is it at par with the work done worldwide?
Well, yes and no. Yes, because once in a while we do get to see a print campaign that is awesome. But mostly, it is quantity over quality. Budgets and deadlines rule over creativity when it comes to photography. In that process the work suffers. We surely do not have a dearth of creativity and talent in India but we still have some miles to go before we are at par with work done abroad, from a production and execution point of view.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Majorly from Photo books, cook books & travel. Over the years, I have a decent collection of photo books by Steve McCurry, Nadav Kander, David LaChapelle etc.
I also love the Nordic style of food photography and follow a few photographer’s work from that region. Its a regular source of reference, high quality work and inspiration.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit photography?
Any current work in Indian Advertising that you find exciting? Especially Print?
I don’t know if exciting is the right word, but I like the food work that is generated by brands such as Burger King, Domino’s, Pizza Hut etc.
I see a lot of work around me in genres of fashion, lifestyle, interiors, resorts, automobiles etc but somehow end up registering/ remembering mainly the food related work.
Whats your dream project?
That is a never ending list. Shooting an advertising campaign for Marks & Spencer Food is one of them.
On a personal level, documenting all the local food across India with location people portraits for a book would be one.
Who would you want to spend a dinner with?
Robert De Niro & Morgan Freeman. Jamie Oliver & Heston Blumenthal cooking the dinner. Wow.. flights of fantasy!
Whats on your iPod?
Coldplay, Lucky Ali, Kishore Kumar, Refugee All Stars, Louis Armstrong, Bob Dylan, Coke Studio Pakistan,
Gipsy Kings, Penguin Cafe Orchestra and a whole lot of latest Bollywood
Mac or PC?
Whats your Twitter Handle?
I am not on twitter. Active on Instagram with handle @mihirhardikar