Dimpy Bhalotia She is one of my favorite photographers of all time. I still remember discovering her work on her Instagram many months ago and fell in love instantly. The way she composes her images and how she views and captures her subjects is so unique that I couldn’t help but delve into her portfolio.
In the end, I decided that I wanted to know more about this artist and we ended up doing this interview. Enjoy and be surprised.
Nadine Dinter: You have been recognized as one of the 31 most influential street photographers in 2022 and 2023. For me, your photographs go far beyond street photography because of the multiple aspects that they bring together. Is there a specific term that you would prefer to use to describe it?
Dimpy Bhalotia (DB): You are absolutely right, and I have been searching for the perfect term to define my distinctive style of photography. The desire to coin a word that encapsulates my photographic style has been constantly in my thoughts. However, I have not discovered that ideal term. I find it hard to fit perfectly into any pre-defined category like street or documentary etc. While there are some possibilities that occasionally resonate with me, such as “momentary photography,” “visionary photography,” or “in-the-moment photography,” none of them fully capture the essence of my artistic vision.
How do you approach the landscape or subject you want to photograph?
DB: I often take a minimalist approach to composition, using light and shadow to create evocative photographs that convey the emotional resonance of a particular moment.
I like to infuse my photographs with a sense of surprise by including an unexpected element that adds a touch of freshness and a joyous perspective to the scene. The humor and surprise in my photographs are often subtle and work to add depth and dimension to my photographs, rather than detract from their emotional impact. By finding unique moments in everyday life, I encourage viewers to see the world in a new light and appreciate the little moments of joy and connection that are often overlooked.
I am also very conscious of the privacy, dignity and personal space of each and everyone. I often photograph from a distance to capture the spontaneity and authenticity of the moment without intruding on people’s personal space or interrupting their activities. When I have to get really close, I just smile and gesture to indicate that I’m going to take a picture. I do it in a very respectful and non-intrusive way. I am very aware of the context in which I am going to photograph. I am also sensitive to cultural norms and practices. I believe in the importance of cultural exchange and encourage viewers to appreciate the diversity and richness of the world’s different cultures and beliefs through my photographs.
Do you have a preferred time, day or weather condition that has proven to be ideal for your Photographs?
DB: I do not follow a specific routine or ideal condition for photographing, but an organic response to the specific qualities and environment of each place. It’s about immersing myself in the moment, allowing the environment to guide and inspire my creative choices. I find joy in embracing the unique atmosphere that each location offers. Although I’m naturally drawn to places with plenty of natural light, it’s not an absolute rule; my choices ultimately depend on the vibe of the place I’m shooting. Each place has its own character, its own mood, and I believe it is essential to adapt to and appreciate these individual qualities. It’s about being in tune with the environment, understanding how light interacts with the environment and how that influences the overall feel and impact of the photographic process.
You were born in India and moved to London in 2005 to complete your studies. Which country have you found most inspiring for your artistic/creative photography and which one for your commissioned work as creative director?
DB: Throughout my extensive travels, I have come across numerous countries, but I have yet to come across a diverse country like India. India, or Bharat as it is also known, has a very enriching energy, which has left me with an invigorating effect. It has played a fundamental role in the formation and discovery of my identity and style. Exploring this vast land has significantly transformed my perspective on existence as a whole. There is something so mystical that it alters the very essence of being. It is as if the atmosphere has the power to recalibrate the chemistry of one’s perspiration, instilling a sense of healing and making the immediate world pulse and resonate around you. I have experienced high vibration frequencies to the richly charged winds and different molecules of life very intimately here. It helps me a lot to maintain a high state of activity, both in the body and in the mind. I have intimately experienced a deep connection to this earth. The richness of the land and the transformative properties that I have found in India shine with an extraordinary brilliance and hold a special place in my heart. Most of my commissioned work is done in India, and they are all very dear to me.
In 2020, your photography “Flying Boys” won IPPAWARDS; L‘ officer called him “the most famous photograph.” Has this recognition changed your life as a photographer in terms of how you see yourself and how others see you?
DB: Winning this award was a springboard on my artistic journey, allowing me to deeply impact people’s thoughts and actions through my art. It provided a platform to spread love, hope, and freedom in a world that yearns for these virtues. The recognition helped me reach a larger audience, spread my message, and raise awareness about the importance of photography. It fueled my determination to create thought-provoking photography, bridging the gap in art education and inspiring viewers with the beauty of artistic expression. This award amplified my voice, connected me with more viewers, and fostered a deeper appreciation for art. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my creative perspective and inspire others to embrace their own artistic expressions.
We see many dogs in your photographs. Is there any particular reason for this, or is it pure coincidence?
DB: Photography transformed my journey to conquer cynophobia, the fear of dogs. It allowed me to face my fear head on, gradually building a connection and appreciation for these animals. The photograph served as a bridge, establishing trust and transforming fear into admiration and affection. It allowed me to observe the dogs from a different perspective. The process of capturing their essence, their unique expressions, and their endearing qualities gradually helped me develop a sense of familiarity and appreciation for these animals. This experience ignited a passion for capturing the beauty of animals and taught me the power of facing fear through creative expression. It became a transformative process for me. This experience not only helped me overcome my fear, but also ignited a new passion for capturing the beauty and essence of animals.
What is your opinion on color photography? Have you ever photographed in color, and if so, why did you switch to black and white?
DB: I have been photographing both in black and white and in color. I happen to have shot many color and black and white portraits for the street, which dominates my portfolio. But I’m always experimenting and exploring my craft. I am not limited to one style or aesthetic; instead, I strive to capture the essence of each moment in a way that best suits the photograph and its intended meaning. Black and white allows me to capture my world and personality by removing distractions and emphasizing shapes, forms, light, and shadows. Conveying bold, calm, and a timelessly classic aesthetic, it evokes emotion and creates evocative photography.
Black and white photography also provides a realistic view by removing color distractions, resulting in vivid and expressive moments. It conveys the pure soul and movement of living elements, without questioning the details. I think the choice between black and white and color depends on the needs of the photograph and the message I want to convey.
The new images that we are pleased to share and present here to the readers of L’Oeil de la Photographie were taken this year with a Leica SL2. What is your general technical approach and preferences? Do you plan your series? Do you revisit the places, observe the situation/people, etc. before taking photos, or shoot fast?
DB: The intentionality of being present in the moment, in the now, is a central component for me. And not being afraid of the unknown and being very curious to explore and discover human connection and lifestyle draws me to unique moments. I don’t plan; I just go with the flow. I like the interplay of shapes and forms with unique perspectives. I often photograph backgrounds that suggest the fleeting nature of life and the transience of the human experience. At the same time, my photographs can also be based on reality, capturing the talents of young people and moments of everyday life on the streets. Overall, I seek to evoke a sense of empathy and understanding for the people and places I photograph, while also celebrating the beauty and freedom of the world around us.
Do you have any plans to work with AI?
DB: I have yet to embark on exploring it. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it, at least not in the realm of photography. However, perhaps in the future, you can consider delving into it for marketing and advertising purposes. At present, I have yet to collect my thoughts on AI to be honest.
Your advice for the young generation of street photographers?
DB: I have reviewed hundreds of photographer portfolios and have realized that there is a fine distinction between those who simply love photography and those who love it and actively pursue it. There are two types of people: those who enjoy photography and automatically assume they are experts in it, and those who love it, have a deeper understanding of the medium and know how to execute it.
As I was looking through portfolios, I realized that some people have the potential to excel in other aspects of photography, such as photo curation, editing, writing, or critique. However, when it comes to executing their own ideas or capturing a candid moment on the street, they tend to fall short. I feel it is crucial to determine if you are passionate about photography because you really enjoy taking pictures or if you appreciate it for its other facets.
Once a photographer has a deep understanding of himself, it becomes easier for him to identify his strengths and weaknesses. It is essential to explore all aspects of the photography industry before discovering your true passion. Not everyone is cut out to be a street photographer as it takes an enormous amount of dedication, time and effort to capture that perfect shot that embodies your unique style.
Ultimately, each photograph captures the energy and personality of the photographer. I believe that self-reflection and a deep understanding of oneself are crucial to success in the field of photography. To excel, it is important to develop your own style and perspective while exploring and understanding your thought processes. Being unique with consistency is very important and is the path to progress.
Thanks Dimpy for the great ideas!
For more information, see www.dimpybhalotia.com
and artist’s IG account @dimpy.bhalotia