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The Transient Tableau

Adman Prashant Godbole spoke to us about his tryst with street photography that travels across borders of a traditional ‘frame’ and colour to give us snapshots of lives lived in the in-betweens. Excerpts from the story.

All Images Courtesy of Prashant Godbole.

Slice-of-life is a recurring visual style in your work, be it advertising or street photography. What draws you to this genre?
‘Slice of Life’ is a phrase describing the use of mundane realism depicting everyday experiences – things that are emotional, provoking, insightful and moving – conveniently sliced and packaged in the form of books, television, theater, advertising, photography and cinema for your viewing pleasure. What draws me to this genre of photography is that you are holding up a mirror to society, capturing the life of a moment on film, making room for instinct, telling a story, half a story and making one smile. It tends to be ironic and often surprises you.

All Images Courtesy of Prashant Godbole.

How does your background in advertising influence your photography?
Advertising is focused on appealing to the basic emotions of the consumer like affection, love, lust, joy, happiness, envy, greed, fear, sadness, pride, rage, confidence, zeal, etc. With advertising, you have only seconds within which to communicate your message. So we tend to keep images simple and to the point. Your visual should seek to be understood even by an illiterate person. Simple becomes powerful. Removing what is not the picture and what is not the message becomes art. I apply the principle of simplicity to my photography by exploring, documenting and discovering life as it unfolds in front of me. 

All Images Courtesy of Prashant Godbole.

How did your stint with street photography begin?
I was fortunate enough to work on advertising campaigns with masters like Ajit Patel, Ashok Salian, Farokh Chothia, Shantanu Sheorey, Raghu Rai, Swapan Parekh and Prabuddha Dasgupta. There is a huge influence of these photographers on me.    
But my stint with street photography as such actually began with the ‘Express Yourself ’ campaign for Airtel. We wanted Swapan Parekh to shoot it. But he wasn’t free, so I stepped up and picked up the camera. And I’ve been in love with it, ever since.

Why Black & White as a medium rather than colour? Is it because street photography exists in the ‘in-betweens’, where colour becomes immaterial?
I agree it exists in the ‘in-betweens’. A photograph’s impact on a viewer can be aided or hindered by the choice of using black and white or colour. Colour allows you to highlight certain elements in an image, it grabs your attention and it has a richer dynamic range. But humans see the world in colour, so a rendition of the world in monochrome makes us pause and look closely. Removing colour from the image allows us to see the subject and its context more directly and lets us connect with the photographer’s intent more easily. That’s why black and white images appear to be more timeless, simpler and more dramatic than colour images. It’s an easy choice, really. 

Saritha Rao Rayachoti is an independent writer based in Chennai.

To read the full article, click here.

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