Bhavneet Bajaj: On Her Own

 
The lines and shadows made on the tank interested me and also helped me convey my idea— bound yet free. Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

The lines and shadows made on the tank interested me and also helped me convey my idea— bound yet free.
Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

Bhavneet Bajaj combines self-portraiture and dance to create visuals that show abstraction and realism, movement and stillness. 

My Assignment

  • Description: Interacting with different spaces through dance
  • Duration: I shot these images from March 2013–August 2013
  • Notes: I used a self-timer which required a lot of effort. A remote trigger would have been a better option.
This was a challenging picture for me. I had to go with the mood and try out different movements. For me, the ambiguity that the glass ceiling adds makes the frame even more interesting. Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

This was a challenging picture for me. I had to go with the mood and try out different movements. For me, the ambiguity that the glass ceiling adds makes the frame even more interesting.
Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

When I started the series, I did not have a set concept in mind. I was simply experimenting with dance and self-portraiture. After a a while, however, I realised that the pictures looked very stark. When I delved into them in order to understand what both dance and photography mean to me, I realised that they both liberate me. Through both these art forms I transcend into a different kind of space.

My Perspective
Soon after, I wrote a poem that gave the entire series some direction.

“A broken identity,
Hiding in the shadows; free-spirited yet bound
In shackles, waiting to be found.
She dances to meet her soul,
In spaces that are forever her own.
Through her dance these spaces breathe,
And take her far,
Into the light that frees.”

My feelings towards dance and photography are what I wanted to show through my pictures and also through the poem. In each image, I tried to portray an element that binds me and holds me back. I also wanted to show a feeling that liberates me through either movement or light.

My idea for this image was simple. I wanted to portray grace and elegance. Photograph/BhavneetBajaj

My idea for this image was simple. I wanted to portray grace and elegance.
Photograph/BhavneetBajaj

The Process
To translate these thoughts and feelings to photos I would first locate an interesting space at home and study it in terms of its form, texture, light, and so on. I would explore spaces and elements that I would see every day but not really notice. My next step was to understand how I could interact with these elements through dance. After this, I would observe the manner in which the light changed throughout the day.

Finally, I would position myself in a way that would convey my idea and also be aesthetically pleasing.

The interplay of light and shadow, the emergence of geometrical patterns, the relationship between the form of the objects around me and my dance form were the essential components of my frames.

I have tried to depict my feelings towards dance and photography through these frames.

 

Making this image was difficult since I had to run up the flight of steps and position myself within 20 seconds. I had to take multiple shots to get this one right. Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

Making this image was difficult since I had to run up the flight of steps and position myself within 20 seconds. I had to take multiple shots to get this one right.
Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

I would plan the photograph and the pose to go with it beforehand. But if I ever felt that something else could also work, I would go with the mood and try different poses.

One of the most important things to understand is the manner in which the light falls on a particular space at different times of the day. Your pictures in the same space can look drastically different with varying light.

Since my images have a very strong interplay between shadow and light, they work better in black and white than in colour. Also, my pictures are all about form and geometry which, according to me, is best expressed in black and white.

The same space can be used to make two very different photographs. I have shot this water tank from a different angle in another image. Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

The same space can be used to make two very different photographs. I have shot this water tank from a different angle in another image.
Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

 

All my efforts resulted in what you see now, a series depicting the story of a girl who feels bound by her own limitations but who finds freedom through dance. I also realised that there is so much that we can do just in the space around us. We need not always go far or to picturesque locations to make beautiful photographs.

Simple light and shadow can be used to create a minimalistic yet beautiful picture. I have used natural light in all my pictures. Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

Simple light and shadow can be used to create a minimalistic yet beautiful picture. I have used natural light in all my pictures.
Photograph/Bhavneet Bajaj

My Equipment
I used a Nikon D7000, a 18–105mm kit lens and a Slik Pro 330 DX tripod. A compact camera that allows you long self-timer durations coupled with a remote trigger can help you execute a similar photo essay.

Tips to Keep in Mind During Self-Portraiture

  • Understand the Space: Evaluate different elements like lines, shapes, textures, colours, and light. These will be important when positioning yourself in the frame and also for the overall composition of the image.
  • Use Manual Focus and a Remote Trigger: If you have someone to help you during the course of the shoot, ask the person to stand in place of you in the frame so that you can set the focus. If not, place an object like a chair in your place to set the focus of the image correctly. With a remote trigger you can take your time to position yourself. Additionally, shoot many images in the same place. This increases your chances of getting the perfect shot.
  • Be Patient: Since you are your own subject, it may take more than a few attempts to get the final shot. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be.

To view more images by Bhavneet, you can visit www.fsevenphotographers.com

–As told to Natasha Desai

Tags: Bhavneet Bajaj, colours, Dance, Emotion, interpretation, light, lines, photography, poem, self portrait, self portraiture, Self timer, shapes, textures