Our Photographer for this Month is Tarun Khiwal, India’s leading Fashion and Commercial photographer. In an insightful conversation, he shares his candid thoughts on photography, his love for it, preferences in tech and how he does not like following trends.
“ When it’s emotion over technique, emotion always wins. ”
Tarun Khiwal: the journey
Right from the beginning itself, I have been keen in photographing people. It all started when I began to shoot iconic artists such as Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Kitaro and the likes. While shooting for First City magazine and being in Delhi, I used to be in the company of poets, artists, writers, singers, photographers, film makers, theatre artist and eventually I began to photograph them. Back in those days, they were not known as “celebrities” as the term itself was new, especially in Indian media. At that time, I was shooting a lot of editorials for fashion magazines, with Bollywood celebrities and later on it went on in my advertising work as well when brands started signing up film celebrities for their brand positioning.
Describe your own photography style
I derive my inspiration from everyday life and everything that pulsates around. I am an open person allowing things to happen and when you allow things to happen in their natural state of flow, the energies move in a very different way altogether within and around. Also, travel is the best way through which one can derive inspiration. I get to meet and share experiences with people from all the different walks of life. I am very much interested in studying people – the way people look when they are lost in their thought, when their face turns angry or at times very serious, when they bite their lip, the way they look down while walking, when they are alone, when they hold their tears, their expression when they want to say something but are not able to put it in words and the way they look at someone they love or hate – its beautiful and very inspiring.
One photo shoot that’s closest to your heart
When I had an opportunity to shoot for L’affaire, I spent many days contemplating on an idea that I had to come up with in order to build a story for the brand – A girl in a quest to show her journey of life, her connection with the universe and the sole purpose of her Being. I had myself engulfed by thoughts and emotions of every moment and all the memories I have lived right from my childhood to that moment only to realize that it wasn’t actually her journey that I was trying to capture, but eventually portraying my own through her. L’ affaire will always remain etched in me for it evoked many more questions about the whole Creation.
Tarun and Tech
I have been trained in the film era and nowadays we are hands on with continuously evolving technology which is just a tool like a knife – you can cut a vegetable or you may also cut a man out of it. We need to know how to use technology to shape our vision and when to draw a line on it. A picture needs to have its own soul preserved, and technology should not take over it.
Technology & photography
The transition from film to digital has been significant in terms of technology. Nowadays, camera sensors are capable of taking 100 megapixels of individual files capturing detail in every inch of the frame to work with. Contemporary post production techniques have been at par with them opening up a whole new arena of possibilities allowing artists to push their vision and limits.
Thoughts on how social media is shaping photography.
With the current trend of instant feedback through social media platforms, we have to be aware that we don’t let them take control of our creative process. One should not rate their success or value of their pictures in other people’s like and dislikes. As an artist, you have to like your own thought and its representation as an art form.
One indispensable photography equipment.
My iPod is indispensable for me.
Field of photography in the next 5 years.
When you follow a trend, you are only borrowing an idea that has already been set out by someone else. But if you tell your own story and make it intimidating and fashionable, that is when you become successful as an individual image maker. It is important to understand that one has to switch off all the aids at that moment and look within themselves to bring out their own experiences to make their work unique and special.
One feat you hope to achieve in future.
Getting seriously into filmmaking is probably one thing I am really looking forward to.
What’s your go-to photography trick that you know will never fail?
When you are looking through the viewfinder, to capture an emotion and have a connection with your subject, you should not hesitate to press the shutter irrespective of technique and tools being used. When it’s emotion over technique, emotion always wins.
Advice for budding photographers.
Create your own sensibility and be true to what you are doing as an artist. It’s important not to follow trends and do something which will make you stand out from the crowd. If you assist a photographer, you need to come out of the shadow of the photographer once you start off on your own and create your own identity and not end up only being a copy of someone.