“I wanted to give a message,” states computer engineer turned fashion photographer Ravinder Pal Singh about why he does conceptually dark photoshoots. “…I don’t think it’s just an incurable problem; try to look beyond or above your problem.” Conceptual photography is one of our favorite genres here at The Phoblographer. Two of his recent conceptual shoots caught our eye, and we asked him to convey the ideas behind the photos.
Is a conceptual shoot as effective if you have to explain the idea behind it? Or is there more value to it when viewers silently ponder over what the images are supposed to be about? Captions and titles can’t always tell the whole story. There’s no right or wrong answer to this. Art isn’t always meant to be explained. Otherwise, how could it easily evoke discussion among viewers? I often say the best kind of photos are the ones that make you stop and think. In today’s world, where our attention spans are decreasing rapidly, an image that makes you stop scrolling is rare. Even if you don’t quite grasp what it is, it’s already something that is making you think.
The Essential Photo Gear Used by Ravinder Pal Singh
Ravinder told us:
Ravinder Pal Singh said
Since the day I started photography, I have been using a Canon camera, I started with Canon’s point and shoot camera, and today I have a Canon EOS R and a Canon EOS R6. If I talk about the lenses. I have a wide range of zoom, prime and wide lenses ( Canon 24-105mm, Canon 70-200mm, Canon 100mm Macro, Canon 17-40mm, Sigma 35mm, and Sigma 85mm ). All these Zoom lenses help me to click beautiful wedding moments, whereas I use the prime lenses for creating fashion portraits.
These days because all of us are crazy about reels on Instagram, in order to shoot the reels, I have DJI Ronin S gimbal. I have a wide variety of lights, continuous lighting, and flashes/strobes with different sizes of diffusers to achieve different results. If I talk about lights, I have a Godox lighting system which I use almost for my daily shoots. I use most of my continuous lights for videos only. For creative lighting, I have a Magmod full kit which includes a set of 12 different gobos along with 7 light gels to create different moods with lighting.
The Phoblographer: Please tell us about yourself and how you got into photography.
Ravinder Pal Singh: My name is Ravinder Pal Singh. I’m a Chandigarh-based fashion and wedding photographer. I am Computer Engg by profession, spent 8 years working in an MNC, and post that, I chose to turn my hobby into my profession. I have been doing photography for the last 12 years, but professionally it’s only been 7 years.
The Phoblographer: What was the inspirational moment that led to the idea for Blindfolded?
Ravinder Pal Singh: In portrait photography especially, I am more inclined towards conceptual shoots, to be more precise dark concepts, it could be scary as well, or it could be on some problems and issues that we see in our daily life. These days we hear a lot about depression and sadness. Then there are people who are shy about discussing their problems. I thought of doing this series because I wanted to give a message that I don’t think it’s just an incurable problem; try to look beyond or above your problem.
The Phoblographer: It’s not exactly a traditional blindfold. You’ve opted for what looks like cling film. And then flowers appear to be blocking her vision. What’s the subtext behind this?
Ravinder Pal Singh: There is a beautiful world outside. Adding flowers there means that if you do not actually want to see with your eyes or you are afraid of the thought that it’s beautiful outside, just try to smell that goodness once. A rose with a fragrance on closed eyes, you can’t see what exactly it is, but if you try to even smell it, I am sure you can make out it’s a beautiful bunch of roses.
The Phoblographer: What emotions and ideas are you expressing with this?
Ravinder Pal Singh: The model looking upwards shows hope. Even after being blindfolded, trying at least once to see towards the light or feel those roses, smelling them, to see hope – hope to set yourself out in this beautiful world.
The Phoblographer: Was this shot in natural light or with off-camera flash? Which is your preferred option?
Ravinder Pal Singh: It is shot with flash/strobe. If you try to see the backdrop, even that has a bokeh effect which shows small stars. I generally prefer to work with strobes because it gives you the leverage to create light effects the way you want.
The Phoblographer: Silence is almost an extension or a sequel to Blindfolded. Why is his mouth tied with ropes?
Ravinder Pal Singh: Silence, you can say, is an extension to Blindfold. His mouth is tied up with a rope because people who are suffering from depression, they hardly say it out and prefer keeping things tied inside themselves only.
The Phoblographer: Is this a protest of some sort? The buttons over his eyes, the noose-like pose, etc.
Ravinder Pal Singh: The button on the eyes again shows the scenario where the people actually don’t want to seek help from their loved ones. They can see that their friends or family members, or loved ones are there to help, but they see it from the holes on the button as if that is the only amount of hope those people got.
The Phoblographer: Aside from drafting or jotting down the creative part of such projects, what’s the first thing you think of when coming up with these ideas? Lighting? Talent? Location?
Ravinder Pal Singh: In addition to the planning, I try to check who can actually do justice to my concept. It’s difficult to get the desired results sometimes from the model. Location, yes, depending on the nature of the shoot, location also plays an important role.
The Phoblographer: Does this also serve as a way for commercial photographers to distinguish themselves from others? Why or why not?
Ravinder Pal Singh: Of course, when you are only into commercial photography, you often end up doing a monotonous job; plus, many people try to judge your thought process by comparing you to the photographers around, but when you are adding such concepts to your profile, it gives you a little edge. Clients can actually make out that you can even create/narrate a story from such subjects.