Not Quite a Family Album

 

Conventional albums have smiling faces, but I prefer to keep things a little ambigious to heighten the mood. Photograph/ Raj Lalwani

Raj Lalwani points the camera at his family to look inwards, as he ponders over thoughts of affinity, intimacy and a place called home.

This article was originally published in June 2014.

"The dark corners of my bungalow continue to fascinate me even today."—Raj lalwani

“The dark corners of my bungalow continue to fascinate me even today.”—Raj lalwani

The house where I live is old and ramshackled, with corners unexplored. All through my childhood, I would tap on the walls and open drawers, hoping to discover secret passages that would lead me to treasure chests and lands of nowhere. A loss of innocence led me to realise that I was probably conjuring dreams in my head, but the dark corners of my bungalow continue to fascinate me even today.
The bungalow in question is as dramatic as a film set and the people who live here are like actors on the set. Recently, I have started capturing vignettes of a home that isn’t quite a home, a house that isn’t one either. Particularly interesting are the reactions of my family to the camera. For them, it is nothing but an oversized piece of gadgetry that is always strung around my neck, and often in front of my face. This essay is a culmination of what I do when I have nothing to do. It tries to explore my relationship with my family, and theirs with my gaze. Welcome home.

I am a part of the image, as is my mother, standing on a stool. It is ironic that the only face recorded is that of actor Abhishek Bachchan. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

I am a part of the image, as is my mother, standing on a stool. It is ironic that the only face recorded is that of actor Abhishek Bachchan. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Things to Keep in Mind While Documenting Your Own Family

  • The traditional family album can be a great source of inspiration. But then, learn from it and then unlearn. After all, your pictures do not need to be the conventional pleasant shots with everyone posing and smiling at the camera. They can be gritty, funny or even eerie.
  • As photographers, we tend to search for light, composition and drama. When it is your own family you are shooting, your intrinsic feelings are more important than the elements that a detached photographer may look for.
  • Look, see and feel. The moments captured instinctively are usually far stronger than the ones that are calculated and planned. Sometimes, it may be the seemingly mundane activities that may strike a chord. Life is in the everyday.
As my brother ran his finger across the wall, I instinctively felt that it looked like someone scrawling on a blackboard. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

As my brother ran his finger across the wall, I instinctively felt that it looked like someone scrawling on a blackboard. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

About Raj Lalwani
Raj Lalwani is a senior member of the BP team,who believes that photography assumes a different meaning each time he looks through the viewfinder. According to him, inspiration lies in the fantastic, the ordinary and in love. He lives in Bombay, not Mumbai.

To see some more pages from this album and to view Raj’s other work, visit www.rajlalwani.com

Tags: Affinity, better photography, Delhi Photo Festival 2011, Februrary 2012, Home, Photofeature, Raj Lalwani