“What is a good photograph?” Photo artiste Vijay Ozo draws an analogy in reply to the question. “Quite often while walking on a street we remark instantly that this girl is beautiful. What is the criterion to judge her beauty? Nothing, but the feeling that she touched your heart. The same is with a photograph.” Not impressed?
He elaborates. “Pictures, or visual media at large, are in itself a self-explanatory art. If an artiste has to explain his creation, the purpose of his or her work is defeated,” says Ozo, who is a veteran in the field. Ask him about his experience in terms of number of years, Ozo puts it at 40 and, as an afterthought, says that consider it from the time when he drew a picture of Hanuman on a wall at the age of eight. “Painting and photography work on the same wavelength; the medium is different but the vision to draw or click is the same,” he says.
And related to this is his continuing struggle with himself for ‘what’ to click... before moving further, a few words on the occasion of the tete-a-tete. Ozo was the chief guest at a photo exhibition, World Through the Lens being organised by the Photo Artistes’ Group. The exhibition opened at Punjab Kala Bhawan in Chandigarh’s Sector 16 on Sunday on the eve of World Photography Day. Nearly 70 images on display are a work of professionals and amateurs “to celebrate the beautiful art form”, as one of the organisers put it. Among the work on display is of Pakistan’s Razaq Vance and Nepal’s Sapana Shah.
Getting back to the issue of ‘what’ to click, Ozo says the struggle is to find the right frame. “With the advent of digital cameras, the medium has developed but there is hollowness in the expression (read ideas) of young photographers. With a digital camera or a smartphone in hand, people fall in the ‘dark pit of perception’ of being a photographer. Camera is just the medium; there’s a need to develop new expression.” He pauses and then continues. “And this isn’t the case with photography alone. Be it movies, writing or painting, the crisis is no different.”
The talk drifts to crisis of another kind. Ozo is concerned about the influence of market on photography because the needs of commerce dilute the art. A photojournalist and Ozo’s friend differs. He takes the ground that it is important to keep pace with the needs of the market to remain the talk of the town. Ozo is not impressed.
He leaves the venue with a piece of advice for young photographers. “After getting initiated into photography, I realised that it is not a child’s play. I still struggle for finding the right frame. The focus should be on the design element of the craft.” And he signs off.
The exhibition is on till August 20