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  • Writer's pictureRavi Balineni

On Photographing Photographers.

This saturday I am photographing a photographer. That brings me to the question I used to ask myself..

Who Photographs photographers? Who do they choose and how do they choose?

Until I got chosen.

Well! my first consignment was predictable... But paramount.

It was DR. Herb Benkel, my mentor in life and photography!

I am who I am today because of his push and teachings..

We met at a physical therapy clinic where I used to work in my pre-photography days and became friends. But when I picked up a camera, is when we got really close!

When I told him I bought a dslr, he got wide-eyed and started asking me questions about it and asked me to show some images I took with it.

As conversations progressed, he told me that he was a photography major turned endodontist ! I thanked my lucky stars to have found such a mentor and started learning from DR.Herb. It is he, who would introduce me to the world of photography, and its masters. We would talk for hours on end about the likes of Karsh, Stieglitz, Henri-Cartier, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

That early education still reflects in my present day work. When we approached the idea of photographing him, it was a few years down the line. I remembered.. Or rather never forgot that he adored his Leica cameras they were his prized possessions. And the stage was set! It would be about his seeing-eye, his Leica!

I requested he bring his camera to my portrait studio, he was excited and I was nervous LOL. Cut to the end, the above photograph is his profile picture on his facebook photography page still. what do you guys think of the image ?

Incidentally this is also my story about my journey into photography :-)

Since then I have photographed many other photographers and I truly enjoyed the challenge or rather the compliment :-) !

Below is an image of my friend and studio partner Manuel Urbano, Photographer and videographer.

Photographer. Videographer.
Manuel Urbano

What I learned while photographing him is, that photographers are just as nervous as anybody else. Only more so because they can judge an image at a deeper level than most of my regular subjects. I also noticed a certain control-issue amongst us ! we are used to controlling subjects in front of our cameras and it is hard for us as artists to let go of that mindset and allow someone else to direct and pose us !! But Manuel listened and let me take control and we succeeded in creating a portrait of a man in deep thought, complex uncertainty, and avoiding direct eye-contact. which is exactly who I see Manuel as..

Here is Tinnetta Bell. Photographer, mother, grandmother and a modern woman.

I wanted to show strength in her profile image (left) and femininity and goddess like quality in the mid-length shot (right). The inspiration is multicultural.. Strong black woman and afrocentric with the body language inspired by an Indian goddess from my culture. The result.. a portrait that will proudly stand in my portfolio forever ! This image I'm particularly fond of !

And finally a set of images of Renuka, an established fashion photographer in India, who I had the pleasure of shooting at a beautiful phase in her life!

I think photographers who choose to be photographed choose someone artistic yet non-intimidating. Someone who is flexible and thoughtful of how they want to be represented and I am happy to have been chosen ! I too have chosen one and will make a trip to shoot with my favourite photographer in New York City one day ! What are your thoughts? Who is your fave photographer? care to comment?

Cheers, Love & Peace,

Ravi Balineni


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