While buying the latest photography equipment may be the way some photographers ensure a great shot, Avani Rao Gandra is more than satisfied with her artistic eye, that helps her capture moments beyond what they seem. An artist, writer, photographer and curator from Hyderabad, Avani’s abstract photography involves various themes — from nature to street life. But her broader exposure to the world of art ensures that her photographs all have substance beyond what’s just in the frame.
“The way I see art is that all forms of art are interconnected — whether it’s writing, photography, painting, art installations… the basic aesthetic is the same. Aesthetic stems from experience and develops from personality,” Avani explains, adding, “When I shoot my photographs, I like to go beyond the obvious and try to get the expression or the ‘feel’ of subject. I move towards symbolic and metaphorical aspects of the image.”
The practise is evident in her photography, with extreme close-ups, unconventional framing and non-conforming subjects portrayed in her work. One of her more recent series Windows Of Bombay, that was also on display at Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery, is an example of this. Avani explains, “I didn’t want people in it nor the usual touristy spots. They were only symbolically represented in the chawls of Mumbai that I shot. The windows were overflowing with objects and you could see a slice of their lives — that’s what interested me.”
The amount of time that she puts into each of her series also differs from most photographers. About one of her sets that portrayed the rocks at Hampi, Avani says, “The rocks were all worn out from the weather, and the light was really beautiful in the morning. Within three hours I had 50 photos! People take months off to work on a series but I observe things around me — nature, people and how things are linked to each other. Sometimes things just fall into place and just an hour of shooting can be very deeply satisfying.”
Avani also says that photographers who edit their photos shouldn’t be met with disdain from their peers: “Using editing tools even to the extreme is fine, if you’re clear about where you’re going with it. My Mumbai series had a little bit colour in it, and I think it adds to the poetic appeal. If you can develop that perspective and maintain it, it’s actually desirable to edit.”...