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.
Here, Harshita Gurjar (@phoolandevi) delves deep into the art, the aesthetics and the technicalities of photography. She also discusses the importance of photo editing and building an organic following on social media. An alumna of Gujarat National Law University, she is a Jaipur-based lawyer and owns Anayna Clothing, an online apparel brand.
Excerpts from a free-flowing conversation:
How did you get into photography?
I’m not a photographer. I just do it as a hobby. I was home after college and was preparing for exams when this one time this amazing sunset was happening. I didn’t have my phone with me. So I rushed back to get it and took this picture. I just had to. It was so beautiful.
It was during monsoon. The sunsets were spectacular everyday. Initially, all my pictures were sunset pictures. I started enjoying doing it and got into it more and more.
Since you’re not professionally trained, how did you get to learn about the aesthetics of photography?
A lot of my aesthetics is influenced from what I watch and read. I read a lot and I watch a lot of movies, TV shows and music videos.
I have a fashion brand. A lot of colour is involved there as well. Colour is my life. I like to know more about it and how it works with every other thing. My aesthetics is majorly based on it.
What makes a good photograph?
It’s so subjective, what a good photograph is. It’s not one thing that leads to a good picture. A lot of things contribute. Instagram has made it almost mandatory that something needs to be pretty to be good but that’s not necessary.
How do you think editing has changed photography? How important is it?
So much. I enjoy editing way more than clicking pictures. I know a lot of people look down upon it but editing is an art in itself. You can do so much with it. It makes the picture so much more interesting and can completely change its vibe. I think editing is very important and a lot of fun too.
Which is your go-to edit platform?
VSCO. I use a lot of others too — Lightroom, Afterlight, Snapseed but all my pictures are also edited on VSCO.
In today’s age of mobile photography, do think one needs to know how to work a DSLR compulsorily to make good photos?
No. I have a DSLR but I hardly use it because I don’t know how to use it well. I didn’t even want to buy it when I bought it thinking I’ll click photos for my brand for social media. But I didn’t enjoy it at all. It’s too much work, too heavy to carry around. It’s not as fun.
Now with the advancement of technology in phone cameras, it’s insane. People are shooting full music videos with iPhones. Whole weddings are being shot on phones. So I don’t think DSLRs are a requirement anymore. Your phones do enough now.
But people who have been in this field for much longer do look down upon phone photography. They think now anyone with a phone can click a picture and become a photographer which is true and which I think is great. You can learn it on your own and don’t need to spend Rs. 50,000 on a camera and more on lenses. You can just take your phone and do so much with it.
How do you think social media has influenced the way we see photographs?
A lot. Before social media, where did you see photographs? No one could share them. Unless you were a professional photographer, it was limited just to friends and family. Now you can share your photos with the world, get appreciated for it and even find people with a vibe similar to your own.
What’s the best way to build an organic following on Instagram?
Use hashtags which are relevant to your picture. Keep your profile public and follow people whose work you like.
Which three Instagram pages do you like the most?
This is difficult. I’ll start with Charvi Shrimali (@charvishrimali). I’m obsessed with her feed. Every time I look at her pictures I wonder how she does it, uses colours so well. Then there is Jamshed Kavina (@the.parsi). He makes ordinary pictures look so brilliant. But Rimsha (@auburnrhyme) is my latest obsession. She does very spring-like photography with flowers, with the sky. It’s very nice. She also writes wonderful captions.