Our photographer spotlight this week is on Amit Kar. Amit comes from a diverse background that has been influenced by school, work and travel around the world. His parents are from India, he was born in the USA, grew up in the Middle East and then went to the USA for university and work. He has worked and lived in Africa, South East Asia and Singapore. After attending school in Saudi and then in Muscat when he was younger, he now feels very much at home in Dubai.
A practical start to an art form
His passion for photography started while at university when he took a dark room class as an elective. His Dad bought him his first camera and he learnt the practical techniques of working with film.
It was when he was in London to spend spring break with friends that he arrived in Gatwick and was waiting on the platform for the Gatwick Express.
The light was low in the morning and a lone commuter walked across the platform full of stark shadows and pinpoint lighting. When he was on the train a little later – he caught a morose commuter looking out of the window thinking about the bleak day ahead.
When he got back to the dark room and he saw the images from that day altogether, he realised he wanted to do more.
Amit exclusively uses a Leica shooter, 90% with the Leica M system.
He still has an old SLR and a collection of old cameras, such as the Mamiya Medium Format. Considered as beautiful objects in their own right he collects them, even though he doesn’t use them.
The benefits of using smaller format camera are that he is less imposing or interfering. People don’t react and step back as they would with a menacing big lens camera.
Photography with purpose
The act of taking a photograph slowly and purposefully still thrills him. The very nature of taking photos on film means that he has to be judicious and thoughtful. With only 36 photos on a film it forces him to be more considered in his art; it is the simplest form of photography.
While he appreciates the power of a digital photograph there is a benefit both to the photographer and the viewer of working in the purest form. Film has a different quality – and it is good practice as a photographer to show that you’re not just relying on technology to capture an amazing shot.
Photography that captures connections
Amit highlights that he is trying to record life, not craft images.
Normally he focuses on travel and documentary style photography – clearly this has halted during the last 8 months due to the coronavirus.
By documenting life he tries to capture something profound in an otherwise mundane moment. He feels a connection with his subjects and hope his images portray a sense of being connected to people and the places that he shoots.
This connection should allow the viewer to take a moment, detach and immerse themselves in the image, and through the detail and lighting be able to look at the details, connect with the colour, feel the texture.
The cars are streaming past and there is a beautiful sky behind the mosque as sunset has just gone. Here you can feel the tension between timelessness and yet something fleeting.
Other photographers that have inspired him include:
- Henri Cartier Bresson – the father of street / life photography
- Ansell Adams – landscape photographer who creates beauty out of everyday shapes
- Terry O’Neill – he captures celebrities and is so insightful, it’s like he’s peering into someone’s soul
- Robert Capa
- Steve McCurrie – his fascination with India is truthful and an insightful representation
The story behind the pictures
The lady in the red sari is representative of India; colourful, vibrant, messy, yet serene. The photo was taken in the morning, when she hadn’t yet opened her shop and during a moment of calm is reading the paper. The scene is unique and specific to Rajasthan and yet still has a human and accessible feeling. It is very relatable, wherever you’re from.
Taken in Hong Kong of a wall of cramped apartments. It gives an insight into how people live and seems repetitive and monotonous patterns, however when you look closely there are signs of life and individuality.
A tree in Oman that is precariously perched on the side of the mountain of Jebel Akhdar. What on earth is it doing there? It shows the tenacity of life and how resolute it can be with a keen sense of timelessness. There is a contrast of sharp lines and texture of the wood with the mountains fading into the distance.
View Amit's Photographs