Eloquence in Silence
Conchita Fernandes revels in the simple and silent photographs of Mitul Kajaria, as he discusses his thoughts with her.
Silence is often mistaken to be the absence of something, which leads people to automatically dismiss its existence or need. Writer Chaim Potok thinks otherwise, and has reflected on this aspect in his book The Chosen. “I’ve begun to realise that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and dimension of its own.” His words have remained with me for a while, and only recently was I reminded of them when I came across Mitul Kajaria’s photographs.
Being Drawn to the Abstract
Mitul’s imagery does not however, encapsulate the bleak silence that Potok was referring to. His is a more tranquil rendition, within which, if you look closer, you will find delicate nuances… a pole running across the image or a tendril slowly creeping from the corner of the frame; these are all elements that he encountered during his commute to work, or while travelling. This distinct way of seeing was a result of a gradual process that began a few years ago, when he was studying architecture in college. “I had managed to get my own camera, and a lot of what I was shooting comprised of geometric patterns, abstracts and shadows. When I shared the work with people around me, I was told that I had an eye for this, and so, continued shooting,” he said.
When the Moment Finds You
What is interesting about Mitul’s photographs is his knack for chancing upon quiet moments in the midst of the cacophony that exists in crowded metropolitans. What is even more interesting is that he is not looking for these moments. Instead, he lets them find him. And when they do, a lot of thought goes into looking for the best possible frame; the question of how much to include. It’s also about preciseness. In his world, there’s simply no compromise in where the lines are meant to meet.
The Relevance of the Print ?
For Mitul, the physicality of a photograph plays an important role in his practice, a habit that came into place after he began working at the Archival Division of the Navajivan Trust. “I’ve made it a habit to print every single image that I upload to Instagram. It’s crucial for me to see and feel the print in my hand, which in a way, ascertains my role as a photographer,” he mentions. The prints also perform the dual function of allowing him to revisit old work, and are ideal to have at hand when showing it to others. “This cannot be achieved when the pictures exist in folders on your desktop. It’s just not the same,” he says.
Growing Up Visually
Just like his photographs, Mitul prefers to maintain the same aesthetic while sharing work on Instagram. “I remember being so excited when I had just joined the app, that I began uploading incessantly. I would put up everything that I shot. However, as I continued shooting and developed my visual palette, I have realised the importance of slowing down and being selective about what I share. I don’t regret my initial phase though; it’s all part of the growth,” he said. This change was also a consequence of a phase in his life when he began questioning his role as a photographer. “A few years ago, when I had attended a photography workshop, it left me with several questions about the purpose of my work. I questioned the importance of my pictures and whether it mattered to me and the people viewing them.” Gradually, he came to the realisation that there is no bad photograph. “Every image is an experience and carries a certain value for its creator, which cannot be discredited.”
Finding Notes in Silence
Fortunately, in Mitul’s photographs, the absence is not made out to be something to loathe or despair over. Instead, it’s calming and symbolic of the quieter and peaceful moments that we often overlook. They’re so delicate that they become objects to be savoured and enjoyed. The colours have just the right amount of hue, and the sun shines just the right amount of light. Even in silence, there is a lot to gather.
Tags: Better Cellphone Photography, cellphone photography, Cellphone Profile, Chaim Potok, Conchita Fernandes, Mitul Kajaria, November 2016, Quiet, Silence, Street Photography