The Deadpan Diaries

 
The titular members of the British Royal family smile cheerfully as Priyanka stares into the abyss. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

The titular members of the British Royal family smile cheerfully as Priyanka stares into the abyss. Photograph/Supriya Joshi


Supriya Joshi
photographs a memorable trip by making unconventional portraits of her sister, Priyanka, during their travels.

My Assignment

  • Description: To create an interesting travelogue by making portraits of my camera-shy sister.
  • Duration: Ongoing.
  • Notes: I’m excited to photograph Priyanka’s reaction, if any, when she sees this project.

There are several people I know who hate being photographed… one of them is my sister. While she is a hilarious, animated person in real life, this fact just does not translate into photographs. Point a camera at her and she will freeze, her face turning into a blank stare. My parents gave up long ago, but I still persist. Even if it is a bad photo, it is still something that will serve as a memorabilia for years to come.

My Perspective
During a recent family trip to North India, I decided I would make pictures of my family, irrespective of how they react. While my parents were more than willing, Priyanka became a portraitist’s nightmare, as usual. When I asked her to pose, she froze. When I asked her to smile, she gave me her patented deadpan expression. On several occasions, she refused to have her picture made as well.

But I continued and we made a deal— if she allows me to photograph her, I will not ask her to smile. She agreed, and that was the beginning of The Deadpan Diaries.

The pink effervescent signboard was the perfect offset to Priyanka’s impassive expression. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

The pink effervescent signboard was the perfect offset to Priyanka’s impassive expression. Photograph/Supriya Joshi


The Process

The best thing about India is the amount of kitschy, sometimes ridiculous art and unusual locations that abound in the country. A sullen, blank-looking Priyanka juxtaposed with colourful backgrounds seemed like a great idea to me.

Whenever I would spot an interesting backdrop, I would ask Priyanka to stand in front of it and ‘pose’. I had no idea about what we would find in every location we went to, so every photo I made during the trip was incidental.

The best part about this project, however, was that I used a cellphone to make the images. The carefree, nonchalant nature of cellphone photography lent itself well to the theme of my project.

It has been a few months since our trip, and I look back at the images I made during the project with much fondness. If there is one thing I learned from photographing my camera-shy sister, it is that you must keep making pictures of the people you love. The memories will last you a lifetime.

My Equipment
For this series I used the Instagram app on my Xolo Q800 cellphone to shoot. I used the same app to add a filter and for subsequent uploads.

Here’s Priyanka, being a chamelon and blending in with her surroundings. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

Here’s Priyanka, being a chamelon and blending in with her surroundings. Photograph/Supriya Joshi


Things to Keep in Mind When Photographing Your Family

  • Be Silly: Don’t take yourselves too seriously! Pose in an unusual manner, capture various expressions… and just have fun!.
  • Learn from the Paparazzi: Follow a family member around and treat them like a celebrity. Even if they get annoyed, persist, for unique shots.
  • Be Involved too: Family photos are no fun if you’re not in them. Take selfies, or put your camera on self-timer and become part of the frame too.

 

Tags: april 2014, Deadpan, Diary, family, instagram, On Assignment, portraits, Sister, Supriya Joshi, travel, Travelogue, Trip, Vacation