In the times of Facebook, twitter, instagram and smartphone cameras photographs have lost their old world charm. Gone are the times when one had a few pictures to commemorate a special life event, these days people have hundreds and the students of PG Diploma in Still Photography and Visual Communication at Jamia Milia Islamia took part in an exhibition to relive their importance and Lipi Bharadwarj, a Hyderabadi native was part of it.
She explains, “The photography exhibition, “Photography As Archive: A Student Perspective”, was organised by AJK Mass Communication Research Centre (AJK MCRC), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and it was part of the 2nd Delhi Photo Festival, 2013 which is one of the biggest fest of its kind.”
The exhibition was born out of a project the students are assigned every year as part of their curriculum. It looked at photographic practices through found images, family albums and neighbourhood studio archives of 16 students. “The exhibition mainly looked at the relationship between photographs and memories”, she adds.
So what exactly did her work entail? She explains, “Each snapshot that we take is a memory and some more special than others. My panel at the exhibition had photographs that marked the miles on my father’s journey – starting out from a small town, Khatauli, in UP and ending up as Head of the Department of a PG and Research institute in Hyderabad. Along the way he started the ‘Tevari’ Movement of Hindi Poetry, worked with Intelligence Bureau in northernmost regions of India, did his PhD from Manipur University and established himself as a poet and writer. The photographs displayed were moments important to him, showcasing a trail of events that led to the formulation of his personality, the personality that I came to know intimately.”
She admits that by doing this project, she realised that before the digitization, people preserved their photographs more carefully, these photographs they had might have been few, but they were treasured and held close by them. Today, we take hundreds of photos of an event, and soon forget about them. “What has also changed is how we share the photographs. Earlier, personal photos stayed in our shoeboxes and photo albums, now we’re able to share them with the world through the internet,” she adds.
Besides this, Lipi’s photograph of the bandwaalas was also displayed at an exhibition titled ‘Jeevika’ by Delhi Photography Club, as a part of 10th Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival 2013 and her photograph won a competition. Delhi Photography Club is a community for people who love photography and the contest demanded five pictures that showcased some kind of profession.
Lipi says that she was delighted by the win because it was unexpected and she hadn’t been able to attend the exhibition. She had taken the winning photograph at Tagore Garden in New Delhi, where there are many shops providing options for band and music at weddings. “The bandwaalas lived near the shops, and I visited them for a few days and noticed their down-time since they work at night and sleep in the day, my pictures basically showed them relaxing and the winning shot was all of them sleeping in a small room,” she explains about her photographs.
Ask her about when she fell in love with photography and she says that it happened when she was in her early teens and a friend bought a N73 phone whose camera she started using. “My beginning work was the usual stuff but people started telling me my pictures were good, and photographing people made me happy,” she adds and that led her to doing Bachelors in Mass Communication and Journalism from Hyderabad.
She is now trying to find her niche in photography though she loves doing street and portraiture photography with her trusty Canon EOS 550D and has freelanced with several magazines.
On why she loves photography she says, “I think what I love most about photography is its ability to preserve a memory in a snapshot.”
Some of her work can be seen here: http://lipiphotography.blogspot.in