Before starting your own career, you worked with Iqbal Mohamed who is also the founder of India's first professional photography institute, Light & Life Academy. What did you remember from that period? Does Mr. Mohamed have an important role on your success?
Iqbal is the reason for what I am today. When I was just 18, he took me under his wings and moulded me into a hungry photographer with an eye for detail. He was one of the first guys to believe that I have a creative eye. I am really indebted to him. 50% of what I know about photography and studio management was acquired during that phase.
Young and talented photographer Jjay Ppradeep is expressing his admiration for you and thanks you for changing the way Indians looked at photography. As an artist, who inspires people, are you inspired from any art movements or artists?
I am of the belief that any piece of art is inspiring. So I don't have any favourite artists or art styles. Any thing that reeks of art turns me on.
Besides being a photographer, you are also the head of the visual solutions agency, the award winning 1pointsize. Would you please tell us about your agency? How many people work with you and what kind of works are you doing?
1pointsize was born when I got bored of doing cookie cutter work for ad agencies. I thought why not create a small place where nothing but ideas rule. A few likeminded souls joined me in this journey and today we are a creative shop with ten people. We've not done badly for ourselves. We've picked a few D&AD nominations and have bagged a few medals at the New York Festivals. We still have a long way to go. Work wise, our philosophy is simple: keep it simple and striking, use a style that suits the brand, and give your best shot, no matter how small the brand is.
Could you please tell us about your working habits?
My colleagues accuse me of being a workaholic. But I don't see myself that way. I think a photo shoot is all about groundwork. 70% of the work gets done before the shoot day. And I feel this 70% is critical. Set designing, styling, model & crew selection can make or mar a campaign. If you don't get it right no amount of magic on the day of the shoot will salvage the campaign. That's why one needs to give 200% from the day you get the brief to the minute I say, 'pack up'.
In one of our interviews, Zimbabwean artist Chaz Maviyane Davies, who is also known as "The Guerilla of Graphic Design", said; "Our ecological and economic sustainability is threatened by rampant and careless consumerism which is directly fueled by globalization and everything it stands for." It's really hard to be an optimist while reviewing today's conditions. How do you evaluate the future of the world as an artist and as an activist?
I am an optimist and so I don't subscribe to the doomsday worldview. Rampant consumerism is indeed bad, but the system will find a way to correct itself. As artists, we do have to play the role of whistle blowers whenever careless consumerism gets in the way of sustainability…
You had presented a perfect example of social responsibility by taking a perfect photograph of vessels waiting to be filled with water in front of a Coca Cola wall painting and putting that on an enormous billboard. After that, Coca Cola Company, which was also one of your clients, threatened you with serious legal actions. However, you didn't change your attitude and said, "If Coca Cola pursues this legal course, my lawyers shall take appropriate counter action". How did you overcome this issue? Would you please tell us about that experience?
At the outset, I'd like to clarify that my intention was not to hurt Coca-Cola. I just thought it was ironical that Coca-Cola was advertising in areas where even water is considered precious. Many Multi National Corporations make this mistake. So I portrayed it with my 'Brand Irony' series. Initially, Coca Cola assumed that I had an agenda. When they heard my point of view, they withdrew the case with grace.
We know that travelling is a big passion for you. Do you still have time to visit different places? Which country did you like most in your previous trips and which place - that you have never seen - would you like to visit most?
Traveling is indeed my tonic. I take a break once in a year to see new place to consume new visual experiences. Among the places I've visited, I would always put New York right on top. London and Singapore are also quite special. Among the places I've never been to, I'd like to visit Antarctica someday!
Are you interested in cinema? If so, which country styles and directors do you find closer to yourself?
Yes, of course. I am a trained cinematographer. And a self-confessed movie buff. I watch a lot of Hollywood movies. My current favourite director is Clint Eastwood. I find his movies to be very engrossing.
Theme of Bak Magazine's 10th issue is "Why?" What comes into your mind first when you think about that word? Please feel free and use your imagination. Create your own "why" and ask it to someone.
Why is a very existential question. Whenever I think of this word, I see puzzled faces, philosophers, people scratching their head and scientists. To me the word Why is more black and white material than colour.