“One of the most important things I learnt over the years is to sometimes put the camera down,” Vedika Bhaskar tells What We Seee. “To actually look at what is happening around, instead of constantly looking through the viewfinder.” And it’s exactly this perspective, this mindfulness, that she brings to her photography. Bhaskar is one of those photographers where you can immediately sense that she is an observer in the truest sense of the word — something that’s been with her since she first started taking photographs at age 15.
“It was our first trip to Africa, to Kenya and Tanzania, and my Dad put a camera in my hand,” she explains. “He had taken a course in photography when he was a lot younger, and started sharing all that he remembered with me. That’s where my journey with photography began. Our parents were the kind who, every year, took us to the jungles in India. We would get into a car, drive through remote parts of India, and just go on an ‘adventure’. We learnt to love the unknown, we learnt we could learn from the unknown, if we were only willing.”
But while she was discovering new places, she was also instilled with a deep appreciation for the people she encountered, one that shows through in her unique portraiture style. “My mother, on the other hand, taught me to look past a photo. Every village we stopped at, she had a profound curiosity about the people there and their lives.” And it shows. Now, Bhaskar’s taking a year dedicated to travel and photography — and we’re thrilled to watch her journey unfold.
We Find Humanity And Patience
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One of the most striking things about Bhaskar’s photography is the sense that her images are truly candid — there’s an innate spontaneity to her work. “Be it wildlife or taking photographs of people – I am simply looking to capture the moment, in a raw, unbiased manner, as opposed to curating or creating a moment,” she says. One of the ways she’s achieved this is to find subjects without an agenda. “When it comes to people, not many like to have a camera stuck in their face. But the more one tends to go away from technology, and away from cities, the more we find humanity and patience. People have time. To sit, chat, share their stories with a person. They do not have the inclination to create a narrative by posing.”
Often, she turns her camera somewhere wilder. When photographing the outdoors and the animals that roam there, there’s an obvious understanding of and reverence for her surroundings that translates to an integrity in her work. Her focus is on capturing things as they are, rather than manufacturing a moment. “Wildlife is the most perfectly balanced ecosystem (as long as we let it be), there is always a reason, and I may not know all of them, but I have a deep respect for the laws of nature,” she says. “Many a time, you miss a shot. A cloud went over the sun and spoilt the lighting, the shutter speed was not sufficient for the shot, you had the wrong depth of field to capture it correctly. Which is why you have to be spontaneous, you have to be willing to let your surroundings (which are constantly changing) allow you to dictate how you shoot.” By letting her environment and her subjects take the lead, there’s an arresting, satisfying candor to her photography.
I Could Redefine What I Wanted To Do
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Taking a year out to just travel and become immersed in her photography — and her subjects — might feel like an unusual choice, but Bhaskar has a ferocious curiosity and recognizes an opportunity when one presents itself. After getting married and moving across the world, she realized that her new life provided a unique chance to do something completely different. “I could continue down a familiar path or I could redefine what I wanted to do,” she explains. “Here was an opportunity that allowed me to travel the world, and take up something, devoting myself to learning and doing something that I had always loved. At this juncture, I had earned and saved enough to know I could change my path for a year, travel, learn, experience new countries and cultures, and give this an honest shot.”
Though she’s not sure how this year will end up, she’s ready for the journey. “Best case scenario, I could indefinitely have changed my path, my worst case scenario is I wouldn’t succeed — but I would spend a year doing something I am truly passionate about, and never have to wonder, ‘What if I gave photography a shot?’.”
How Little I Truly Know
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Though she’s still seeing where this journey will take her, it’s clear that her open and inquisitive spirit is in the driver’s seat. When she talks about what draws her to photography, her enthusiasm is boundless. “Curiosity, in a childlike sense,” she says. “Fascination for anything new. Plain and simple. I find a sort of comfort and familiarity in the unknown… As I have grown over the years, the realization dawns on me more and more, about how little I truly know.”
This humility and grounding is a powerful tool, and it’s easy to see just how much joy Bhaskar derives from her process. While gaining her mastery, it’s clear that she’s learned so much from her craft. “Whether I manage to develop a successful career or not, it will always play a huge role in my life,” she says. “It is a skill that one can spend their entire life working on, and continue growing – without every hitting perfection, a constantly moving target. Every day we see moments that will never come back to us, some big, some small. And photography has allowed me to develop a perspective to see this, appreciate it, and try and capture this. For me it is about my life, my journey, my learnings – it is personal. And whilst it is deeply personal, I have a lot of respect for all that I have been able to learn through it – and would like to share this.” When you see her work, you’ll be so glad she did.
You can see more of Bhaskar’s work and follow her journey on Instagram.