All of 17 years, Sara Wadhwa is a class 12 student of Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram. Like other children of her age, she is an active student, with interests in various extracurricular activities and is a member of various clubs. What sets her apart from the rest, however, is that she is one of the very few who is holding a solo exhibition of her photographs, working on a Coffee Table Book and is already booked to do another showcase of her pictures towards the end of this year.
We spoke to her as her debut solo photography exhibition, Cynosure, is set to go up at the India Habitat Centre on August 16. The photographs will be up for display till August 19.
When did you start taking pictures?
In Class 3, I had gone on a school trip to Taj Mahal, Agra. I don’t remember but my parents tell me that I came backwith more pictures of the Taj Mahal in my camera than those of my friends. That marked a start to my passion for photography.
Tell us about your show Cynosure. Why this title?
Cynosure is a word that means “a person or thing that is the center of attention or admiration”. When taken at face value, the word seems to describe whatever may capture one’s interest or fancy, such as the subject of a photograph or marvelous scenery.
When pronounced, however, it sounds like a fusion of the words cyan and azure. Cyan is a light, greenish-blue color, and is one of the primary colors of ink used in photo printing. Azure, a bright blue color like that of a cloudless sky, has a calming effect on the eyes and a relaxing touch on a frantic mind.
A juxtaposition of these two interpretations of the word cynosure, encapsulates the theme that guides this display, just like the pole star, which was once referred to as the cynosure of the sky.
What camera (and lens) do you use? When did you buy your first camera?
Actually, I continue to use the first camera that my parents bought me from Dubai in 2012. It is a Nikon D 51.
In lens, I started with an 18-55mm lens and then moved to 18-300mm, because I wanted to use more zoom. I have also used a fisheye lens for some pictures that I have clicked for my coffee table book, just to get some variety.
Tell us more about your show.
I am showcasing about 80 pictures in different sizes – starting from 6’’x8’’. The largest photograph on display is 3 feet wide. These pictures have been pulled out of my collection over the last four years. The earliest picture on display is the one that I took at the Lotus Temple in 2012. It is a night shot – just a picture of the moon. I was 13 then. The most recent is one that I took this summer in Thailand.
It is that of a butterfly with its wings open. This was captured in Krabi, Thailand. It so happened that I was trying to click the leaf and the butterfly just flew into the picture!
All proceeds from the photo exhibition will go towards the Gujrati Samaj Educational Trust through UdayREP. The Uday Rural Education Program (UdayREP) is a charitable trust dedicated to improving the lives of school children in rural India by raising funds for specific causes that can make a significant positive difference.
What make for your favourite subjects? Do share with us your style and inspirations.
I love to capture portraits in colour and my favourite subjects are from the streets. But in this exhibition, I am putting out a wide range of subjects – Nature, landscapes and portraits. This being my first exhibition, I didn’t want to narrow down to one topic.
A lot of my pictures have been taken on my travels. My favourite destination vis a vis photography has been Cappadocia in Turkey. The sky is so very blue there and the mountains so light and brown. Together, they make beautiful pictures.
Come to think of it, travel provides with excellent settings for a picture. A lot of my pictures have been taken during my travels within India and abroad. I love to capture culture rich spaces.
How has your school supported your passion?
Everybody in my school has been very supportive of my passion. I have been a member of the photography club, called Digital Excellence, for six years and am now the president of ‘Digex’. I have also had the opportunity of being the official videographer for the visit of His Holiness The Dalai Lama to the Lotus Temple. Some pictures taken by me adorn the walls of the teachers’ room and other spaces in school.
I am also compiling a Coffee Table Book on the Baha’I temple in Delhi. In fact, I consciously refrained form using more pictures of the temple in this exhibition as I wanted to retain the exclusivity of the book. I am also doing another exhibition in December this year for Delhi O’ Delhi at the Habitat Centre.
Sara Wadhwa – photo artist