This time we have a popular Indian Photo Artist 'In the Spotlight' - Ravi Dhingra.
1. About you: Tell us about the place, where you were born; your education, and profession.
I was born in Udhampur, J&K but most part of my life is spent in Delhi.
Photography was always a hobby since school days. Though I had my own camera much later in my life, I was always interested in looking at photographs in books and magazines.
Started my career in Finance after finishing my education in Commerce and specialisation in Cost Accountancy(ICWA). Spent around 13 years in this profession and bought my first SLR camera during this time. Got more involved with the camera, bought a few books for learning but the books were not much of help so ended up in attending a photography course.
2. Your photography experience: Tell us since when you've been taking pictures. When did you start taking photography seriously?
Finance as profession was getting very monotonous and the urge to express through a creative medium was always there. Some friends who knew that I have a good camera and have learnt photography offered photography assignments and the first ever assignment I did was shooting the interiors of an office. In the year 2000, took the big leap, left the finance profession and got into photography full time.
3. What are your key areas of photography - travel/street/landscape/
wildlife/wedding/portraits/commercial? What makes you click? What have been your biggest achievements so far? What camera/lenses do you use and why?
I call myself a lifestyle photographer basically involved in Architecture & Interiors, Food, People and Product photography. These are the genres which bring me my bread and some butter. Otherwise I am more inclined towards travel photography which include some some street photography also. These are the genres where photography I get maximum freedom of expressing my thoughts vis-a-vis commercial photography where there are many factors which determine the course of action- design elements are highlighted, emphasis is more on making the subject look the best.
Getting recognition in a very competitive field is my biggest achievement so far in my opinion. Since I am into teaching photography also, the respect which my students offer is far better than any other personal achievement. It is very satisfying to see the students who learnt photography from me are doing well in their respective careers.
I use Canon full frame bodies with a variety of lenses for different subjects, from extreme wide angle lenses for Architectural & Interiors photography to mid level telephoto for other genres. The range of focal length is from 17mm to 200 mm and include macro, Tilt & Shift lens besides the mid-zoom ones like 17-40, 24-70 & 70-200.
4. What is so special about your city/country and its life/culture? Has photography changed your outlook/vision about your surroundings?
The phrase “unity in diversity’ answers this question, biggest advantage in India being the variety of photographs one can click, each village, each town, each city provides a different perspective. It is said that in India dialect changes after every 4 miles, so is the case with landscapes, streets, people. The different cultures, languages, reactions of people add up to an interesting mix of visuals.
“A camera teaches you how to see without a camera” -Dorothea Lange has rightly said so and this applies to me also. Photography has made me more sensitive towards my surroundings, observation of things around me come naturally now. With my photographs I try to bring out the emotions attached with every subject- the state of happiness, feelings of being sad, neglect and plight. I want the viewer to get involved with the photographs and feel the emotions.
5. What are your sources of inspirations? Do you have some favorite photographers? How do you keep yourself motivated? How do you approach people for their pictures?
There have been many inspirations but for my initial interest in photography, Mr. Raghu Rai is the main force. He was associated with India Today magazine and in the year 1984 , two major incidents happened which rocked our country- assassination of Indira Gandhi and Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The photographs taken by Mr. Raghu Rai during these 4-5 months are still etched in my memory. There are many other photographers who inspire me,Yousuf Karsh for his portraits, Steve McCurry for his travel stories, Annie Leibovitz for her unique style and many more..
Keeping motivated is the biggest challenge, there are times when photographer’s block hit you. There is no urge to pick the camera except for commercial assignments but thankfully these periods are of very short duration and at times I enjoy them- Dolce Far Niente – the sweetness of doing nothing. And during these small breaks, though I may not have ventured out to click, my mind is always occupied with ideas for creating something new and different.
6. What piece of advice do you wish to give to aspiring/budding photographers, fans, and readers of the post?
Photography is all about practice, learning from mistakes and learning from experiences. And pursuing passion, chasing dreams in the area of interest rather than involved in all the genres will help in getting to the goal faster. Post processing is secondary, getting the photograph perfect in the camera is primary.
Happy Clicking !