Photographer Talks

ARJUN MARK – Photographer of the month

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Arjun Mark, popular advertising and editorial photographer, is recognised as the only Indian photographer on the jury of the prestigious international WPGA Awards in 2011. Known as one of the most creative photographers of his generation, our photographer of the month caught up with us and gave an insight into his relationship with photography.

‘‘ There is no substitute for hard work and humilityis an invaluable virtue.

Exhibit: The journey.
Arjun Mark: I’m a student of Visual arts, though I haven’t really had any formal training in photography. I got introduced to photography in college and ever since, there has been no looking back.

The journey has been a struggle for several years before I could crack into the mainstream industry. As a photographer, you are always on your own and sometimes it is the independence that can be intimidating. The other perpetual impediment is the encounter with the ‘no budget’ client. The notion that photography comes cheap is disrespectful, utterly exploitative and humiliates me. In my opinion, these are the severe adversaries of this industry. However, it has been very exciting throughout.

Exhibit: Your style of photography.
AM: Objects around me are no longer impassive; they are ideas. Photography makes me discern altogether another unexpected side of me and has become the premise of my artistic exploration. There has been a considerable transition in my style in the last few years. However, I don’t like to be pinned down with a specific style. Sometimes you need to keep reinventing your style of work. I like to be more versatile. However, I create a specific mood in my pictures that is trademark of my style. Most of my pictures have a certain spontaneity with the subjects I shoot unless I intentionally want them to pose. My pictures are usually candid.

Exhibit: Photoshoot closest to your heart.
AM: There are many that I love. The campaign for Farah Khan has always topped as one of my favorites from my gamut of work. The campaign was a collaboration in crafting a richly expressive body of art. To me, it marks a blurring between reality and fantasy, and inhabits a fictive universe. They are the workings of imagination and our deeply shared love of beauty. These images are a culmination of artistic expression in all genres– jewellery, photography, & fine art. One of my biggest inspirations while shooting women have been sculptures. Their ethereal quality and understanding of form have influenced this body of work.

Exhibit: Process for any photo-shoot.
AMPre-planning is the key to a successful photo-shoot. Most of the work happens before the shoot, the shoot day is only the execution. Firstly, an idea has to be cracked for the shoot, based on which appropriate talents for wardrobe, art and beauty are selected. Most of the time we have a casting session with the models a few days prior to the shoot. Once the talents are in place, a pre-planning meeting is held with all the talents of the shoot along with the client to make sure everyone is on the same page and to make any small last moment changes if required.

Exhibit: Arjun Mark and Tech.
AM: I was never a tech person until two years ago when I realised that technology is taking over at a really fast pace. At the scale of 1-5, I’m probably 3.

Exhibit: Technology and Photography.
AM: Technology undoubtedly has had a tremendous role to play in the transformation of photography over the decade. Not only did technology replace analogue with the digital format in cameras, they also brought in advancements in the lighting technology that enables photographers to become a lot more versatile and flexible.

Exhibit: Social media and Photography.
AM: With the rising popularity of digital technology, social media has become a tempting platform for photographers to promote their talents online. This could be good and bad in a way. In a way social media is destroying the art of photography. The platform however opens a whole new perspective to photographers to explore and easily reach more audiences than they could have imagined.

Exhibit: Indispensable photography equipment.
AM: My 85mm f/1.2 lens.

Exhibit: Field of photography in 5 years.
AM: In the current day, photography is not just photography but can be termed digital imagery. Photographs are no longer pictures that come out straight out from the camera. Post-production these days has become almost as important as photography itself. People are constantly evolving and exploring new techniques and setting new standards in the world of digital image making.

Exhibit: Feat you wish to achieve.
AM: There really isn’t something as specific as a single feat to achieve. However, I am working towards making my imagery a lot more powerful and expressive.

Exhibit: One Go-to photography trick.
AM: I hope we had one, haha! There is nothing like a go-to trick for a shoot! No shoot is ever the same. It’s always different faces, different talents, lights, location, etc. and it’s impossible to have a one to-go trick to solve a problem. In almost every shoot, you are bound to face a challenge at some level that has to be tackled cleverly with the available resources.

Exhibit: Advice for budding photographers.
AM:There is no substitute for hard work and humility is an invaluable virtue. Irrespective of whether you are ‘successful’, it is important to remain humble and receptive. This is the something that has always been of phenomenal pertinence to me.

Quick Q&A

  • One photography cliché you keep yourself away from: I would never want a subject to pose.
  • One classic or contemporary photograph that speaks to you: There are many, however most of them are from Helmut Newton’s archive.
  • A gadget you swear by other than your laptop and smartphone: Honestly, these are the only two gadgets I use!
  • One unique gadget that you would love to own: A drone.
  • Your inspiration: Things around me in nature.
  • Biggest Regret: Nothing really.
  • Most costliest buy: Camera of course.
  • If not photography, then what: Maybe an interior designer.
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