Udayan Vundru loves football, travelling and is hard at work preparing for his class 12 boards. Any of these facts could easily be used to describe most 17-year-olds.
But what sets Vundru, a student of Modern School, Barakhamba Road apart from his peers is that he has travelled widely across India and the world, taken photographs with just his iPhone and is about to release a coffee table book chronicling those very adventures.
The book, appropriately called Small Journeys, was unveiled at an exhibition inaugurated by Professor YS Alone at the Azad Bhawan Gallery in the capital.
But photography wasn’t always Vundru’s first love. And, as it turns out, neither was travelling.
“In 2013 I went to Holland and then once again in May 2014,” said Vundru. “The main purpose of those trips was for a football club. But that was done in a week.”
Vundru then spent the next few days travelling across The Netherlands and France, armed with his iPhone, and began documenting his adventures. Asked about his choice of device, his reply is somewhat surprising. “I just had an iPhone,” he says. “There’s no specific reason why I picked it.”
And this impromptu vibe is perhaps what defines the young photographer. “I cannot see myself picking up a map, encircle the destinations and plan my itinerary around it. I would rather stay in a place and walk down the alleys, see unvisited corners around famous landmarks, talk to locals, eat their food and enjoy the night life. I no longer see countries and cities as tourist destinations, I see them as places with a soul, just as one would see a person, with a life and story of its own,” he says.
iPhone photography isn’t uncommon these days. Instagram is flooded with talented new photographers, many choosing to stick to mobile devices as they document their travels and lives, gathering thousands of followers in the process. But Udayan Vundru shrugs it off. “I’m not a fan of social media so I’m not on Instagram,” he says.
He has more adventures planned once he is done with his exams but is pragmatic enough to realise that “plans don’t always materialise.”
But he plans to keep clicking away, no matter where he is. “I don’t know if I’ll do another book. But I might. It depends on if people like it.”
Here are some of Udayan’s photographs