The art of photography is perhaps the most democratic and accessible art form, one that is revolutionary for not just being the quickest and most truthful tool ever invented to record our lives, but also for creating art that is powerful and necessary. From the analog times to the current times of digital photography, many artists have used this art form to replicate their understanding of the visual world and create photographs that are iconic. We revisit our conversations with some maestros of photography, who give us an insight into the practice.
Raghu Rai: Photography is my religion. I do it like a good pilgrim. I work and do my job with honesty like you do your prayers and once it’s done, once the picture is taken, then my relationship with that picture is over and does not linger on. I am not the kind who carries his work in his heart. For me, every little experience matters so every image is equally important because I am a product of all that put together. Photography is my religion. I do it like a good pilgrim. I work and do my job with honesty like you do your prayers and once it’s done, once the picture is taken, then my relationship with that picture is over and does not linger on. I am not the kind who carries his work in his heart. For me, every little experience matters so every image is equally important because I am a product of all that put together.
Larry Fink: As I am a teacher, I can talk about the photographic process, but I am quite reluctant to do so with regard to my own work. But...I suppose one way to explain my use of black and white is to say that it simplifies things in terms of light and form. This is what I am interested in. When the light streaks across your face, can I see only your face or can I start to imagine a mountain range? Or, when your ear bulbously moves out like that, do I see it as an ear, or something that alternatively becomes a piece of pork rind? Every time I look at anybody anytime, I’m always after the deepest place. Then, when you couple black and white with flash photography, you have a type of a divining rod, an extension of the decisive moment. So, it’s not about making a picture, it’s about when will chance opportune itself for revelation? And it’s always about the flesh. And the imagination. In how many different ways can the imagination be penetrated by the nature of coincidence?
Gauri Gill: I was made acutely aware, of how a place is assigned meaning only by its viewer, determined perhaps by her relative distance or proximity to it; and of how viewing itself is an essentially solitary act, since what we see might be only a projection of what we know, have already seen or experienced prior.For me, the world exists infinitely and I draw from it. That to me is exciting.
Mark Bennington: I really feel with all my work, it is about connection. Emotional connection to other human beings, connection to some fundamental truths that we we all share. And also connecting to a shared narrative as a collaborative process. I love this quote from the legendary photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, who said 'It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.' That’s it.
Bharat Sikka: Photography for me now is no longer about the connect because I don’t see myself as a people’s photographer anymore. I work conceptually more, as well as in an ambiguous way where I may or may not connect with my subject…as for me the totality of the whole image is far more important. The thought behind the image engages me more than the subject. And I am happy if I am able to bring out the emotion I am feeling in my photographs.
Alexis Vasilikos: Spontaneity and improvisation are the oxygen of my creative process. Making images is a mysterious process that can't be put into words, but in a way all the journey is contained in the images. They carry the energy of the experience out of which they emerge, like children that carry the fragrance of their parents. I don't perceive the images as separate. They are aspects of the same experience - the experience of being. When I edit them, they come together and they become something else, a composition.
Steve McCurry: Observation is central to photography. I think to be a good photographer, you need to have an acquiring mind and you need to be very curious. When you are walking around, you need to be present in the moment. You are looking around and examining things on the streets, you are looking for stories. I think it’s pretty rare for people to just walk for pleasure and when that happens, one starts observing the littlest things. When I am photographing, that is the zone I am in. I look at my surroundings and see what is different and special about the place. I want to examine, explore and see what stands out; it doesn’t always have to be human. It can be a crack on the sidewalk or an animal playing. It’s the appreciation for that moment in time and appreciation for the planet.
Elena Cremona: My memory and the emotions linked to certain memories constantly fade; I photograph to understand better, to let go of the past and distant memories that are nostalgic to me; I photograph to pour meaning into who I am. Each photograph of mine is as unique as the memory that inspired it, as it reassembles fragmented images of the past. I find it hard to understand life and society, to make sense of all the different aspects that we are born into - a system driven by power, money and exploitation, where greed seems to be put above the wellbeing of our planet. Society is ignorance, but Nature is bliss.I find it important to use my photographic work as a tool to awaken consciousness and create a sense of awareness and respect for our irreplaceable landscapes; to not only challenge the mind set of society, but to evoke an emotional and tactile connection between Man and Nature.
Aditya Arya: I belong to the analog times and having tested the bits and bytes of the digital world. I am always pining to get back to the silver grains of the analog times. Photography in the analog times was all about pre-visualisation and it was pre-meditated. Today’s millennial generation is in a great hurry and they are supported and assisted by the technology of the times. Today’s technology depends a lot on the delete button. Analog photography does not allow the creator to revert and make a change but with the digital era, people can go back to editing, redoing and touching up images.
Rohit Chawla: Essentially my photographic practice is to get my subjects to give me a part of them— actually the most difficult part of them. I have always tried to shoot people who have kind of intimidated me or anybody who has a larger than life presence, even authors, and I have photographed many authors is because I was intellectually intimidated by the author at some point in my life. I shoot to get a glimpse into their life, because I find them extremely vulnerable once they are behind the camera. Getting them is the tough part but once they are behind the camera, whether you are a modi, a Jeff Bazos or a Mukesh Ambani, I am suddenly in control.