The Branded City

 
I waited for an hour in front of this Reebok hoarding, to capture the bustling shoppers. Only in this frame did I find someone being conscious of the ad at the backdrop, and trying to get as close as possible to it. Photograph/Sreedeep

I waited for an hour in front of this Reebok hoarding, to capture the bustling shoppers. Only in this frame did I find someone being conscious of the ad at the backdrop, and trying to get as close as possible to it. Photograph/Sreedeep

Sreedeep captures people against the landscape of the brands that have begun to contribute significantly to the identity of an Indian city.

My Assignment

  • Description: I spent a little more than a week to compile this series.
  • Notes: You do not need to have a camera with a high megapixel-count and host of other features to work on this assignment. With an idea in mind, and of course an eye for composition, one can still dare to walk out and get some shots that make a point.

Our cities are surrounded by images of brands. They are magnificent and colourful visual messages, that have invariably become a part of the city’s landscape. This series of photographs captures these brands and their visual manifestation in the form of billboards, posters, standees and various other forms of media in and around centres of consumption. In a way, it also shows the Indian city that constantly goes through change with the intrusion of these brands.

My Perspective
Brands have become a part of us too. We wear ubiquitous logos, in our quest for identity and status. The messages that they communicate to us constantly prompts us to live our lives through a string of shopping expeditions.
As consumption becomes central to our lives, there is a gradual disappearance of space outside the world of consumption. This sheer presence and proliferation of brand propaganda motivated me to archive today’s Indian city—in this case, Delhi.

This image’s textual richness along with the mixture of meanings that it exhibits struck me immediately. Though I feel, waiting a bit longer would have offered me something more interesting. Photograph/Sreedeep

This image’s textual richness along with the mixture of meanings that it exhibits struck me immediately. Though I feel, waiting a bit longer would have offered me something more interesting. Photograph/Sreedeep

The Process
Before I bent my back for this series, I thought about a few points I could focus on. I realised that visibility in previously untouched spots is essential for the success of a brand. Hence, I wanted to concentrate on the sudden increasing presence of brand images in certain places where it was earlier not visible. I also realised that these images act as an unalterable backdrop against our regular, daily activities. These images are there irrespective of the liking and disliking of those who overlook them. Therefore, it was necessary to capture the commercial propaganda with the people in the foreground.

The final series of photographs that emerged does not merely reveal the grandeur of the logo, but also the life in front of the logo. If you take a closer look at each photograph, the brand contradicts sometimes, but other times it may enhance the sprit of the advertised product and its message. All of these, in some way or the other, reshape our sense of being in this changing Indian city.

On a weekday afternoon, this hawker selling unbranded stuff had little business to do, as I was busy capturing the irony of his presence in front of a super-brand. Photograph/Sreedeep

On a weekday afternoon, this hawker selling unbranded stuff had little business to do, as I was busy capturing the irony of his presence in front of a super-brand. Photograph/Sreedeep

My Equipment: Although I have been using a Nikon DSLR for almost a year, none of these photographs were shot with an SLR. I used a Canon A400.

Tips to Get Started

  • Market as a space of ‘consumption’ and ‘social-gathering’ offers endless themes to explore. Pick your focus before clicking the shutter, to avoid the problem of choosing between plenty of options.
  • Patience and timing are key. Take time to frame and wait for the right moment, till you get what you want. Most importantly, allow people to first feel comfortable with your presence, and then, if possible, forget your presence with the camera.
  • For thematic brilliance, try to layer your frames with more elements, movements and expressions. This would result in many meanings emerging out of a single composition.
  • To escape the harsh lighting conditions during the day, shoot inside the markets and malls. Keep the later half of the afternoon and early evening for outdoors, when the colour saturation is maximum.
  • Take prior permission before you go and shoot inside showrooms or malls, to avoid hassles and disturbing the authority.
Tags: brands, February 2009, funny, humor, identity, New Delhi, On Assignment, portraits, poster, sreedeep