In light of the recent 2022 IMAGO Photography Scholarship winner announcement - we also spoke to the shortlisted photographers that made our Top Ten. Talking with two photographers focusing on still life, documentary and emotional captures.
Nandan Nabodit Biswal sees photography as a religion, often playing with the different effects and abstractions that a camera can produce, while also capturing unique portraits and scenes around him. Starting out with still life photography, he plays with a cinematographic documentary style to achieve his shots.
Aspiring photographer from Pakistan, Mohammad Hunain is currently exploring the medium of street photography taking shots of people in his community, as well as the sweeping landscapes that surround him. He hopes to translate his experiences and how he sees the world through his photos. His work is delicate and striking all at once, showing us a glimpse into his unique perspective.
How did you start out in photography?
Nandan: I started around 2014, when my dad first gave me the camera. I developed my style around 2018, which is documentary photography which was highly influenced by Indian Documentary photographers and Western Street Photographers. I tried my hand out with lights and shadows and understood how to play with it. Now I am a Visual Art and Photography student at the age of 20, still learning how to play with light and developing my own style of photography.
Mohammad Hunain: I was always fantasized by the moments I used to see within the blink of my eyes. That started the spark in me for capturing that small amount of moment to show the world who haven’t got that opportunity of seeing through their eyes.
What excites you about photography?
Nandan: Photography is my religion. I shoot everyday and play with lights and shadows. What excites me the most is how people are unaware about the idea of photographs taken. The fall of light and shadows and how I understand how to frame an entire shot. I am currently doing cinematography in a documentary style and I love playing with colours to make the best out of a frame.
Mohammad Hunain: To me photography is a medium through which I can show people my perspective of seeing things and moments. It’s all about capturing memories that might not happen again. It’s a savior for me.
What topics are you most interested in?
Nandan: I am most interested in documentary style and colour grading. I like making the most of mundane photographs and colour grading the dynamics.
Mohammad Hunain: I started by doing Fashion photography but that didn’t go so well for me. Then I discovered Documentary Photography/ Photojournalism, and I absolutely fell in love with it.
What is your favourite motif in front of the camera?
Nandan: Patterns, play of lights, frames, lines and grains. Anything that makes a photograph so surreal that the viewer will no longer be able to differentiate between a canvas and the photograph.
Mohammad Hunain: Mostly moments full of variety and of emotion. Both of which are natural phenomena, I just compose the shots.
How would you describe your creative style?
Nandan: It’s mostly based on wider frames with everything happening at once and a documentary photography style.
Mohammad Hunain: Honestly I do not pursue any specific style, sometimes Film Noir or sometimes Pictorialism/Naturalism.
What do you want to express with your pictures?
Nandan: I want to tell how different strata of human civilization coexist to form a perfect world – yet it is far from being perfect.
Mohammad Hunain: I want the audience to feel the emotion felt by a person or people captured through my photography mostly. Apart from that I always want to take a one time shot that may not happen again.
Do you have a source of inspiration for your photography?
Nandan: Yes, my inspiration is the photographers of the past. Those who dedicated their lives to giving the world images in order for us to see and have a record of the world’s progression. The sheer label of progression has pushed boundaries for humans and makes them achieve things that were once thought of as mentally and physically impossible.
Mohammad Hunain: I’ve grown up following different and great artists, and I have been inspired through them all. But if I had to name specific inspirational names, they would definitely be; Steve McCurry, Dina Litovsky, Harry mitchell, Arthur Lumen, Javier Arcenillas and Madoka Ikegami.
What influence do your environment and the people around you have on your work?
Nandan: I think neutrally, if I see a frame and something happening then I’ll jump right into the scene and make the most out of the image with that being said, I play with inconvenient perspectives to make a photograph. Distortions help me the most when I take a photograph and I understand the subject better.
Mohammad Hunain: I live in a community with people from all different races, religions and cultures. This definitely inspires me to highlight their good deeds and positivity to showcase the world through the eyes of my camera.
What does social media mean for your photography and does it have an influence on your work?
Nandan: Social Media has little to no effect on my work. My audience mostly likes my work because it is unconventional and not a lot of people play with photographs on that level unless they are influenced by organizations or magazines. Human nature is such that they won’t delve into matters that don’t entertain them, hence proving my work unconventional. As Charles Bukowski said, “not being able to create art they will not understand art.”
Mohammad Hunain: To me social media is the ultimate place to showcase my work to the world. It could be argued that a person in this era without internet, would be missing out on a lot of things.
Where do you see your photography in the next few years?
Nandan: Honestly, even if I achieve something great in the next few years I won’t be egoistic about it or boast about it. Because it’ll hamper my belief and I will waiver from my art. My art is what separates me from others as a creator. I want my work to be seen everywhere and make people understand that this is where we are headed and this is the current condition of the world as we speak. I will create till the day I die and it won’t be for someone else, it’ll be only for me. I have this underlying hunger to take photographs of everything and capture the drama to make sure the frame has either a lot happening or nothing at all.
Mohammad Hunain: I see myself visiting the places almost never covered before, because of the misconception of their culture and tradition. I am a lover of peace, that is all I want to spread across the world in different religions and cultures through my photography.