Image 1: The yellow cup with an 'X', 2008
Updated: Feb 17
While I was browsing some old files the other day I chanced upon some photographs which I had made a long time ago. As I browsed through them I realised that over the years there has been a significant transformation in my thought process before or during the making of an image and I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a random image every week and just talk through the process. While I do not necessariily intend to follow a chronology, the first image I picked is coincidentally one of the earliest images made when I was nothing more than an infant when it came to digital photography. Since the beginning, my early days of learning photography, I have was always drawn to formal elements like texture, color, lines, patterns etc. and I loved playing around with those. Light, of course for any photographer, is an important commodity. For a photographer with a keen eye, natural light has immense potential to offer. Also as a photographer I have been fascinated with observing the light in my home, whichever house I have lived in so far, a study that continues tirelessly till date, irrespective of the format I use. This image was made at a time when my knowledge of the history of photography was meagre and the likes of Andre Kertesz and Uta Barth were way beyond my reach, let alone even the thought of attempting to comprehend their work. However, this was a strong indicator of my affiliations to a certain kind of aesthetic in the future as I acquired more wisdom.
At that point, merely as an exercise, I used to study the light coming in my home through various windows and doors at different times of the day. The angle, the quality, the color temperature each varying through the day depending on the time of the day and the location. The image in question here was made on the kitchen platform of my house in Sahakarnagar, Pune where I have lived most of life. This spot served as a mini studio for quite a few images I made during those days. The iron bars of the window just above the platform would cast these beautiful shadows every evening as the light from the setting sun would enter through it. I had a pair of these tall, bright yellow coffee mugs (colored coffee mugs have always been favorites) and I had a made a few images of those but none worth displaying proudly. That day I just happened to place the mug on the kitchen platform in a sleeping position and the shadows of the window bars made this remarkable curved 'X' mark on the cup. I made a couple of images, but the glazed granite top of the kitchen platform was reflecting light weirdly resulting in specular highlights. Thats when I started hunting for a base to place the cup on. I tried a couple of things that were around, like the chopping board and dinner plates, but nothing seemed to click. Then suddenly I noticed this doormat outside the bathroom. I picked it up and placed in such a way that the texture on the mat would create this diagonals with respect to the diagonal placement of the cup itself and the shadows of the bars. The hard sunlight just did wonders for enhancing the texture of the mat, in stark contrast to the smooth, shiny texture of the cup. The hard light was always going to give a slightly distrubing highlight on the cup, but that was a compromise I happily made given the overall mood of the image I was achieving. The thick wooden frame of the window together with a kitchen cleaning rag that was hung midway up the window worked as natural cutters giving the vignette at the top and the bottom of the frame almost perfecting the lighting set up.
I included this image as the first one just because this made me realize the true potential of natural light and how it can be used to an advantage with props and things that could be readily available. Also, this was the first fine art print I ever sold and hence holds a special place in my heart.