World Photography Day: Delhi-NCR lensmen turn to the ordinary amid pandemic – art and culture


In the beginning of the year, Delhi-based wedding cinematographer and photographer Mohit Pathak had his hands full with assignments when the pandemic struck. When stuck at home, he turned his lens towards life. “My grandfather had a serious injury during the lockdown, and since he couldn’t go out, we called a barber home. I was amazed to see him adhere to all precautions and also sad that he was risking his life to make a living. That is what led to this shot,” he describes.

A shot from the Ghazipur mandi by Indraneel Chowdhary.

A shot from the Ghazipur mandi by Indraneel Chowdhary.

With the pandemic offering a different slice of life to be observed, city-based photographers have been focussing their gaze more on the ordinary and the stories behind it. Take for instance, photographer Indraneel Chowdhary, who lives in Janakpuri, captured many nuances from Delhi’s Ghazipur sabzi mandi (vegetable wholesale market). “Imagine not being able to pause for a pandemic. This pause is a boon for people who can clothe and feed their families, but I wanted to capture people that are often forgotten — people on the road, under the bridge and on the footpath,” says Chowdhary, adding that like many others he too faced financial problems, since a lot of his assignments got cancelled.

There is, however, still a glimmer of hope in the dark hours, as some photographers are finding new ways and subjects for their craft. For these few, this pandemic is an opportunity to discover and rediscover the profession. Lifestyle photographer Ravi Dhingra says time at home helped him bring nature to his living room. “I was never a bird photographer, but because of lockdown I started observing birds in my balcony and developed this new habit. Earlier, I couldn’t even tell one from another and now I can identify birds with names,” he says.

 

“I felt a sense of timelessness during the lockdown, and that gave birth to my photo series on Time and Change. Everyday objects became my muse,” says Gurugram-based Aditya Arya, founder of Museo Camera – which reopened earlier this month, after the long lockdown. He adds, “We are planning probably the first actual exhibition at Museo Camera, which will be called Lockdown Diaries, and has images created by many photography enthusiasts, from all over the country, in the time of pandemic.”

A picture by Kabeer Lal that describes how the action for lensmen shifted indoors during the pandemic.

A picture by Kabeer Lal that describes how the action for lensmen shifted indoors during the pandemic.

Kabeer Lal, another Delhi-based photographer, has initiated online workshops for photography enthusiasts during this period, to help them create outstanding shots while at home. Lal explains, “The pandemic has brought beginners and old timers of the profession at a level playing field. From now, it’s only those who will adapt and stay flexible and innovate, will survive!”

Author tweets @bhagat_mallika

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