I’m Abhishek and i’m a photographer and I live with my wife Lincy in Bangalore, India. I’ve always been fascinated with the power of visuals and have found my channel to experience and share that fascination through photography (and now also a bit of film). In brief, it’s photography’s unique attachment to reality is what gripped me. I shoot mainly things concerning human stores. For me this would translate to documentary, photojournalism, portraits, weddings and travel, street and editorial photography. The most important thing in my relationship with photography would be that it’s actually a gift that i’m experiencing more than what i’m giving others. It’s a great blessing to have this bounty.
When did you first start taking photographs?
This is an interesting question. For a long time I thought that photography ‘happened’ when I was doing my bachelors at university. It was a mass communications and film studies program and we studied several topics which had a lot in common with photography. Last year however, I visited my parents’ place in Kolkata (where I spend the first 23 years of my life) and to my surprise, found out that I was taking photographs as early as 5th grade using my dad’s old camera and using them on projects for school This is a time when my friends and often myself relied on stock posters, stickers and cut-outs from newspaper and magazines for our school work. The funny thing is that I also made sure I wrote boldly (in my childish handwriting) under the print stuck in the geography project that I had made the photograph. An interesting surprise indeed.
What are the challenges of being a photographer?
One of the best things about photography is that t’s very democratic in it’s practice. Literally, anyone can pick up any camera and enjoy photography which his great. But with this privilege comes a challenge of making meaningful work out of it. We see life every awake moment of our existence and the greatest challenge is to transfer that same emotion and message from our minds into a single frame. So the challenge is not primarily technical or a skill based one but it’s the ability photographically notice and understand what’s in front of you in spite of the fact that you’ve probably seen it a thousand times before. But this challenge need not be intimidating for professionals or for amateurs. On the contrary, it’s something to be enjoyed! The great Garry Winogrand once said. ‘I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.’
How do you manage the balance between work and your own creative pursuits?
It’s always a challenge for any artist I guess. A perineal challenge for me too. One thing would be to consciously take decisions which won’t force heavy long term commitment into work you’re not very proud of. For any artist, the work you get tomorrow is what you show as your portfolio today. However, it should also be clear that there is not shame in doing commercial work. All good work just that… Good work. Sometimes commercial work successfully fund non-commercial creative pursuits too.
Where do you find inspiration?
Ethnic culture, Local community life and stories and of course creation; human and otherwise.
Tell us about the journey that made you the photographer you are today?
I consider myself an introvert. I’m the guy who won’t usually step up and introduce myself at a gathering but would rather say in the corner admiring furniture. Or maybe I would rather not go to the gathering at all. You know, the kind of guy who would sit in class praying the teacher won’t notice you! Just after I finished college, I was working in an advertising production house where we were making television commercials. It was during that time that I came across the work of Sebastiao Salgado and I have never looked back since. The power of images (which reflect reality) to directly speak to us was overwhelming. As a shy guy, being behind the camera was a way for me to navigate through real life and that took off as a profession after my experiences right after college. I relocated to Bangalore, India in 2008 have been here since shuttling between my current home, my heart city Kolkata and my motherland Kerala along with all the other places work takes me.
What is your favourite type of photography to work on?
Documentary and travel photography. Anything that can be directly connected with humanity.
Is there anything you are currently working on?
Apart from my commissioned work, there are two projects that i’ve been working on. One is about the backbone of Indian weddings. The ordinary and beautiful but necessary and strong pillars that make the Indian wedding happen. The other one is the relationship between beauty and the abstract in relation with human creation.
What does your workflow look like?
I shoot digital 99% of the time. Some of my projects require a recce and pre planning while others are best worked out when I show up with my camera. Once the shoot is done, I let the images marinate in my mind for a few days or even weeks and then do an edit on my computer later mostly using Adobe Lightroom. Some commissioned work is time sensitive so i’m bound by certain deadlines to edit and deliver them. Over the last few years i’ve been doing a lot of work on my phone. Shooting, editing and instantly sharing your work with the opens up a new set of ideas ad challenges. My day to day life as a photographer can be found on my Instagram page
What is the message you want to get across to people with your art?
Through my work, my hope is to translate realities which we would otherwise tend to miss. These are realities which are sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly. ”A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” said Dorothea Lange.
And I feel like that is photography’s superpower! The reality is that I myself have been blessed by photography more than what I would have shared with others.
Is there any insight or words of advice you would like to give to help others in their creative pursuits?
Carrying on from the question above; it’s best if we as artists see our journeys as students. Art and creation has much to teach us. Every human heart including myself has a tendency to put oneself on a pedestal. When we shift our attention from showing or teaching to growing and leaning, our art and experience improve. I’m not just peaking technically here but more in terms of a larger life context.. This in turn leads to blessing others. In the larger scheme of things, we are students and not teachers or above anyone else our art is being shared with.
Are there any creative people you are a fan of that you think deserve some exposure?
Absolutely! I’m not sure if four is too many but I would like to give a shout-out to my lovely wife Lincy Mathew who makes amazing art using recycled material, my friends Pradyumna Singh Manot, who is a piano artist par excellence, Sanjeet Chowdhury, a fellow photographer who played a pivotal role in my journey with photography, and finally a mentor and uber talented installation artist with a gentle big heart, Berenice Rarig.