Photographer of the Week is a five-part series in which we talk to five popular Instagram photographers about it all—their story, learnings, insights, what makes them photograph and all that goes into making great images.
An alumna of Bangalore’s Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bhumika Singh (@happymessybum) is a 23-year-old filmmaker-photographer based out of Delhi. Mostly trying to seek beauty through her photographs, she says she tries to be expansive and fluid with her themes.
Here, she talks about her learnings, photography trends on Instagram, the photographers she admires and why she advocates maintaining a safe distance from social media.
How did you start with photography?
It started out from my love for painting. I grew up sketching and painting. The first thing I used to notice in a painting was light. I got a point-and-shoot camera when I was in Class 7 and initially clicked some really bad photographs. But soon it became hard for me to distance myself from the camera.
I’ve never really focused so much on creating quality as on creating a bunch of photographs. It soon became a habit. Eventually my dad got a DSLR for himself which I would sneak out all the time and shoot. Ever since then I got hooked on to it and couldn’t spend a day without clicking, no matter how good or bad the pictures were. I took up filmmaking in college because there was no photography course and that was the closest I could get to being behind the camera.
How important do you think DSLRs are in making good photographs?
People will want you to invest in a high-end camera if you want to take up photography professionally. But I never believed in owning a camera just to prove my skills. Any camera can do a good job as long as you know what you’re clicking. It’s never about the camera. It’s about how you are taking pictures. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the quality is or how enhanced everything looks, it’s all about your perspective.
Your Instagram is a mix of all sorts of pictures. Has it been a conscious choice? Is there a genre that you identify more with?
I know I’m all over the place on my Instagram. It’s really hard for me to focus on a particular thing because there are so many things that I abundantly like and enjoy taking pictures of. I try to be as expansive and fluid as I can. But if I have to find a recurring theme in the things I personally look out for, I think it’d be spaces, people and trying to find beauty amid chaos.
How important is photo editing?
When I started out, I was completely against filters and adjusting pictures because I thought it ruined the natural beauty of photos. But eventually I decided to play along and realised that if a picture isn’t reflecting what people are feeling, they edit it to try to create the mood.
Personally, I love editing pictures but not to the extreme level where I photoshop them and try to create a virtual world. I don’t have those skills. Everyone has a different style of editing pictures but I try not to make an image look too different from how it originally looks. I generally try to create a mood.
How do you think Instagram has changed the way we see and consume photos?
It’s a great medium to put out your talent but sometimes I think it becomes a bit too much in the way it challenges the creativity within yourself. When I’m not creating and I’m looking at others doing so much, it agitates me a little. It’s not a competition but you do want to put the best of yourself out there. Indirectly, we are all in this need to create more, which I’m trying to give up on. I want to create more for myself than for people. Instagram is great but we are overdoing it a little too much.
What works best in building an engaging following on social media?
Do not cave in to how others will perceive your profile. Rather than continuously asking people to share your work, create something that’s truly yourself. It will organically reach and engage with a bigger community. When you’re truly into your work, it shows.
What do you think of photography trends on Instagram? Do you participate, follow them?
Usually, I’m more of a viewer than an engager. However, I’m really liking the FaceTime in isolation series (FaceTime photoshoots, a photography trend that is currently all the rage on Instagram). I am building a series within my circle because I really want to test my creativity. I have started with it already. But it is the only trend I’ve possibly engaged in. Otherwise I really like viewing things more than creating for the world.
Among photographers, whose work do you look up to?
Tezza is my absolute favourite. I cannot go a day without looking at her profile because she has a really interesting way of taking self portraits. She is more inclined towards fashion photography and styling but it’s really interesting what she does with the limited amount of things she has. Another one I absolutely love is Sam Kolder. He is a filmmaker but his pictures are totally stunning as well.
What has been your one major learning?
Getting hate on your work is really easy. A lot of us don’t want to engage with such criticism but it is what shapes us and our work. However, do not give in to negativity, especially that comes from social media. Just give your 100% and don’t think too much about what others are talking. You keep creating and you will eventually be able to see beauty in your work and find your audience.
What is it that makes you want to photograph?
I think I’m trying to seek beauty and this is my way of capturing it. It’s hard for me to not be behind the camera. I like the control that I have in seeing and capturing beauty. I want to share it with as many people as I can. Photography is also a good way of cataloguing memories and documenting your life, documenting where and how you were at a certain point in time.