“Trying To See The Soul” – An Interview With Aditya Mendiratta, A Photographer Par Excellence!

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“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still” goes a quote about photography which resounds the ethos involved in this brilliant art of photography. There aren’t many photographs in this world, which seek to impress you and yet have no story in their soul. So to say, every photograph has a voice which is loud and clear through ages and time. These were my thoughts when I stumbled upon the Facebook page of this particularly prolific photographer, Aditya Mendiratta. That’s when I started scrolling through his intricately composed and utterly gorgeous line of works. After almost an year or a two of frequenting his works, I finally had the opportunity to have a conversation with him, in my attempt to understand what did felt like, to create something spectacular, day in and day out.

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Hello Aditya! Big Fan here, so we’ll start at the very beginning. What does Aditya stand for? And where does your story start?

Aditya means sunlight although I am not a hardcore fan of natural light. When it comes to Photography I prefer to use artificial light. Photography played a major rule during my childhood. My dad loved photographing and capturing moments. I used to play and shoot with his Kodak 620 brownie. Looking at my love for photography my grand father gifted me a Premier film camera. Throughout my childhood I used that camera but on the way to adulthood I forgot about my love for photography. It wasn’t until 2009 when i was working as a programmer for Accenture that I realised my lost love for photography. It was one weekend where I found myself buying a DSLR because i was bored with my job. That’s where it all started.

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Started pretty early then, thankfully! Now so where did your ‘first click’ happen? What made you probably decide that Photography was something that most appealed to you ?

The first click happened in the same month in Chennai, India, where I bought the camera. Even though my camera was on auto mode, something about that image made an impact on me. It was one of the first things I had created (even partially). Following this I started shooting concerts and night-life in Bangalore. My role was not to capture group shots for a newspaper next day, but to capture the life of the party, which would then be used to promote the music festivals, gigs. It was then when I realised the value of an expression. I was still extremely far away from making it my full time job. It became a gradual process of experimenting with different genre’s of photography and it eventually grew on me.

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Bangalore has the best night life, yes! Now, then, many at times we notice some recurring themes or voices in photographs? Do you look for any such inclusions?

Not necessarily. I remember back then I used to spend time in creating single images. Not everything had to have a story or a theme. Sometimes I would love to shoot a certain situation (or of an individual) which was never pre planned. Often I would also work on creating single images rather than a 4-­5 image photo story. I feel today photographers over-pressurise themselves to create a multiple story output or to always follow a theme.
There is a type of photographer who would prefer every inch of the frame planned while the others who’d shoot unplanned. Both work in different situations.

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I’m always interested in creative people having muses per say, would you say that you have such particularity? 

For my commercial shoots, while creating the brief and outlook of the shoot I have to imagine the face I’d like to represent the brand. Looking for that face can sometimes take weeks and rarely months too. When it is my own personal shoots I go very abstract. I look at a person and I feel that there is a certain emotion associated with each individual and if i shoot them I strive to bring that emotion out in my photograph. Every photograph is a mere representation of what the subject looks like in a photographer’s mind.

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You are getting much deserved attention at this point of time, but was it somehow hard back in the day when you were just starting? Easy? Difficult? Is social media a fair enough platform to start off with?

Easy or Difficult is just a representation of how an individual deals with the situation. At any given situation I look at the challenges I need to face and how to pass those challenges. Competition in any business is the same. To be able to succeed, you need to constantly bring in innovation, new ideas to the market and adapt to the most recent trend in your own style.

Social media is a important tool but it is not the only tool. It’s just an extension of your identity but what you are in the real world is what matters the most. Networking, meeting people and building relationships is one of the most important things today. Most people forget that on the internet (social media, or website) the average time span of a visitor is barely 5­-10 seconds, while word of mouth marketing is a spot-­on reference.

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Now I know every photograph takes up a part of your soul and personality, but is there a specific photograph that made you emotionally spent or took in a huge amount of effort to produce?

I try not to be too emotionally connected to my image. If I do then I may not try to improve myself in future. The one image that took me the most effort was a portrait I create of Leher Sethi. This portrait took me endless hours of planing, 4-­5 hours of shooting and then 4­-5+ hours on editing. It was a composition of 12 images in total. ( Below )

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Oh, that was a pretty incredible photo-shoot. So, when you want to go for a photo-shoot, what are the first five things that you want to decide upon?

Location: Location is the first thing that needs to be locked post the brief is decided. A good amount of time is spent at the decided location or looking for location to finalise the shots. Not even once have i reached a location with no idea on where i am shooting. Every area is decided and planned (shots of decided spot/location are taken to keep things in handy later on). This helps in deciding the next step
Shot check-list: It’s my most important list that marks the shots (still or video) I need to get based on the brief to achieve the output decided during the creative. I keep this in writing so during the shoot you do not miss out on either one of the shots. Multiple copies of this are made and handed over to the team. Apart from this check-list, experimental shots are an add-on.

Reference shots (if any): Often reference shots may not be needed but I find them handy sometimes in order to show the subject the direction we may be going it. It helps me visually give them an idea on the kind of body language we might be needing.

Music (this is the 6th or the extra thing that falls at this step if I am shooting a video): Different directors / film makers have their own way of making a film. I prefer to have an idea of the music that i might be using for the final film. I may not necessarily use that one but based on the brief decided for the output, it helps me achieve a certain direction while shooting it. Being a musician, a lot of things in my life are influenced by the
music I listen too and so is my photography. Music also is important for my still photo-shoots. I choose specific kinds of music to get the mood going.

Team: Based on the type of shoot i assign the team required for any shoot. My team consists of many people. At shoots i have had a team of 2 assistants and at some shoots i have had a team of 5+ assistants and the extras (make up artist, models, production manager etc.). It’s very important to understand the talent of people before bringing them on­board.

Gear & Backup Gear: The kind of gear i may need varies shoot to shoot. Basic gear is always around but I may need extra equipment, extra cameras or lenses. I have had shoots from one camera set-up to upto 5 camera setups. The output plays a big role in deciding the gear. For everything that we take, there is a back up as well. Incase of any tripod , lens or camera failures there is always another one available at the shoot. Back up gear is the most important and the highest priority one should have. I personally know of people with horrifying stories of the whole shoot falling apart because of gear failure.

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We’ve got so many places in India, which have high photographic value. But are there any that you are a bit partial towards?

Spiti Valley
Leh / Ladakh
Kashmir
Dalhousie
Kerala

Let’s talk Gear then shall we? What is your photography gear composed of Aditya, If I may? And also another thing, for someone who comes from limited resources, what would be a great equipment composition be like?

I use very high end gear at this stage. I would not prefer to get into different kinds of cameras or brands at this time since that topic is very large and subjective. I grew up using Large format cameras and when I started out in 2009 I used the most basic camera for 3 years. I professionally shot concerts but at that time, because of unavailability of high end cameras at a affordable price I did not have much of an option but to get it right in this. It helped me work the most out of my camera. Even today with the most high end gear, I can not stop believing that the basic cameras can not do much. Off course the gear requirements can vary from shoot to shoot. You might be shooting something super fast, you might be printing a building size hoarding etc. Study different types of cameras, why certain type of photographers use certain cameras and why you would need them is pretty subjective again. Understanding the difference between need and want is very crucial for gear since on a single piece you might be investing a hell lot of money.

I often see senior photographers discouraging emerging photographers on the camera gear. Although everyone’s approach is different, I rather believe in educating the emerging photographers on different types of cameras and their usage. To rather help them understand the difference between need and want. I also agree to the idea that sometimes professional gear can boost your confidence a little. Every individual has their own way of dealing with confidence. I would admit that moving to full format cameras back in 2011 helped me gain more confidence. It helped me work more with lesser excuses. I could no longer blame it on my gear and i had to outperform myself. It worked for me.

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Lastly…Any word of advice from your side to the thousands of budding photographers out there, hoping to possibly to make it big in this preferred arena?

Be Persistent. Spend a lot of time on experimenting with genres of photography. If you have found your love for a certain type of photography then experiment in that, but make sure you try other genre’s too. I learnt a lot of things from trying out different kinds of photography in my early days. I would often use rules from one genre and apply them in another.

Apart from your professional work, it is very very important to spend time on creating personal work. Your personal work plays a major role for the client’s decision to hire you. One of the biggest advantages of doing personal work is that you can afford to make mistakes. Because you do not have a client involved, you have the freedom to experiment and go wrong. This helps you in dealing with different business statistics assignment help Services

Like any other human I’ve made a lot of mistakes too. Often I tried things and failed miserably at times. A lot of times that’s pretty discouraging. Accepting the mistakes and facing them wouldn’t be very easy.
I realised however that the only thing that kept me going was the persistence to learn from the mistakes and move on.

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Achievements :
Jet Airways 2013 Travel Photography Contest Winner
500px Editor’s Choice
National Geographic Editor’s Favourite
Media Novak’s Most Creative & Inspiring Portraits

So that was it Folks..!! The man behind some of the most fabulous photographs I’ve ever across online. The insights are surely something that we could use to implement. After all, as they say, There’s a photographer in all of us…It’s just the matter of letting him watch the world…!

Do follow his works and I’m sure you can’t get enough of it any time soon.

Visit His Works On : Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram

A Wirally Exclusive!