Depth of feel

Noted for his visual narratives, Bengaluru-based photographer Arjun Kamath talks about passion, perspective and career
From the Anxiety series
From the Anxiety series

KOCHI: A 20-something woman sits alone on her bed staring into the distance, her face visibly worried and afraid while tarantulas crawl over her. A pink-cheeked schoolboy stares desolately into the camera as he is heckled by his classmates, his demons manifest as bugs that stick to his body. A middle-aged woman hosting a tea party experiences a breakdown, imagining her guests as killers. A young insomniac is stifled by the chaos of his work and family. These are some of the pictures featuring in ace photographer 
Arjun Kamath’s new series on anxiety. 

Based in Bengaluru, Arjun is best known for his versatility in switching between fashion, travel, wedding and portrait photography fashion and his self-funded photo series. One of his first projects, Coming Out, based on a lesbian couple revealing their sexual identity to the world, took the internet by storm. So did ‘Avani’, a photo story of a mother’s valour and sacrifice to save her infant daughter. Arjun was recently in Kochi on behalf of the city-based Insight Camera Club to conduct a session for budding photographers. 

An erstwhile engineer in making, Arjun picked up the camera in 2009 determined to make a name in photography. He ventured into wedding and commercial photography, built his portfolio and was accepted to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, a prestigious institute in Los Angeles, US. Despite being well versed with the basics of photography, Arjun felt the need to enrol for the course. “I was reaching a point of creative saturation and felt the need to educate myself. Ten years ago, photography was a new thing, a profession most people were wary of. Even now, on, people don’t want a proposal from a full-time photographer,” quips Arjun who has clicked many prominent faces from the film and fashion industry and has been featured in The Guardian, National Geographic and Vogue. 

Though Arjun’s compositions are dramatic, visually-rich projections, played out in beautiful contrast of colours, the focus is always on the subject. His protagonist has the viewer’s undivided attention. “I like capturing expressions and emotions; one reason why I don’t do still-life, landscape or wildlife, but take up wedding projects. Celebrations always call for heightened sentiments. It’s where my passion meets financial benefit,” says Arjun. “I did this series specifically for Instagram. ‘Avani’ and ‘Coming Out’ went viral on Facebook but the platform is now dead. I wanted to do something where every frame has a different character.

Anxiety is a relatable emotion, so I wanted to delve into how people actually deal with the clinical disorder and its gripping subconscious effect on them. The picture with the schoolboy drew its inspiration from the life of one of my friends who was bullied by other boys for talking and walking in an effeminate manner,” adds Arjun.For his next photo series, Arjun is planning to work on climate change.  “Cities are losing their charm. Rampant urbanisation and pollution are destroying what once was alive and vibrant. I grew up in Bengaluru—what once used to be a garden city, but isn’t anymore. I have an out-of-the-box take on it. Hopefully, it will materialise soon,” says the photographer.

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