In a world of colour, architect-cum-photographer Praveen P Mohandas prefers monochrome. And while one would imagine his frames that have no dash of colour in it, to be grim and lifeless; they are not. Each image seems to adopt a character of its own, capturing the imagination of its viewer.
“Colour is superficial; it deceives and deprives the viewers of the subject’s soul. Black and white takes away the realism in the photograph by breaking all its elements to its basic form,” says Praveen.
According to Praveen, he was always fascinated with photography, even as a child. “Cameras were a luxury when I was growing up. One could sight a camera only at weddings back then,” says Praveen, who did a diploma in still photography, of which black and white photography was a part, after completing his class 12.
Praveen who runs Transform Architects, an architecting firm in Thrissur with his wife, Vaishnavi Chittiraibalan, has been in the photography industry for the past 25 years. The photographer who started out by clicking photos of his travels, architectural wonders, festivals and people, was introduced to the world of wildlife photography by the Youth Photographic Society in Bangalore. “Senior members of the group opened the world of Nature to me. My first tryst with wildlife photography was at the Bandipur National Park. I started connecting with Nature and decided to solely focus on nature photography afterward,” says Praveen, who adds that he considers himself a Nature and not a wildlife photographer.
“All flora and fauna are of equal importance to me. I have shot everything from your backyard blooms to elephants in the wild,” he says, adding that although one can manipulate colours and textures in digital photography, it’s the “power to alter a picture and create a unique artistic rendition,” that led him back to black and white photography.
The images he clicks are in colour and then converted into black and white. “When I click an image, I have an idea of how the picture will look like in black and white. Nature photography for me, is not a record of my encounters; it’s often an emotional response to the situation I am in. I like to get focused on to the subtitles of nature that is otherwise often ignored. Black and white helps me to bring the initial layer of abstraction in the work; it intensifies the tonal ranges, the form, texture… Black and white also gives the viewer the freedom to interpret the visual in their own way. I want my images to be able to tell a story,” says Praveen, adding that monochrome images have now become his signature style.
The photographer, who has travelled and photographed across the span of India, held an exhibition in Thiruvananthapuram in March. The exhibition titled ‘Kari’ brought out the vicissitudes in the life of an elephant. "It is a project I started with wildlife artist Sreejith Rajeev."
The photographer who has captured hundreds and thousands of shots of Nature at her best is currently training his lens at capturing the endangered Nilgiri tahr. “It’s a wonderful creature to behold, extremely majestic,” says Praveen, who shares a few of his pictures with The NationWide. You can view more of Praveen’s clicks at his Instagram profile @praveenmohandas