By Shiv Ahuja
While she studied comparative literature at college and has no formal training in photography, over the years she’s honed her skills and today is a professional photographer. She started shooting in college with a DSLR, gifted to her by her father. Two years ago, she moved to New York City, drawn to it like many others, yet a little skeptical of what lay ahead. “It has a certain quality.”she says, not being able to put a finger on what exactly that endearing quality is. Though she usually relies on words to express herself, New York evoked a writers’ bloc of sorts. “I couldn’t authentically describe the sense of being there, and writing has largely had a distracting or distortive effect. I only began to get at it when I started shooting the City in Black and White film.”
New York City is possibly the most photographed city in the world and according to Devika, “Photographing a city that’s already been photographed so well, by many and for so long is an exercise in near total redundancy. I had no luck in the beginning while I was trying to produce pretty pictures. After a while, it became an excavation of sorts, searching for that unique sense of being in New York. Its sheer size, its detail, its architecture and its people.”
When asked about these photographs specifically, she says “Several rolls later, I still can’t tell what sort of narrative or feeling these photographs produce in other people. I derive satisfaction from them because they reproduce in me the peculiar sense of being there— which, to give words another shot, is something like nostalgia for an alternate universe, or a lucid dream about a more interesting reality, saturated with possibility.”
Which photographer’s work does she most admire? “I’m ashamed to admit I’m very poorly educated as far as famous photographers go, but, like many other young shutterbugs, I’m mesmerized by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Frank Capa. I look at a lot of photography, old and new, on facebook and photoblogs and in newspapers and magazines, and a vast array of it gets to me. I suppose I’m not very discriminating. Of what I’ve seen recently, Prabuddha Dasgupta’s personal work knocks my socks off.”
We’d love to see Devika photograph Delhi!
Catch Devika’s work online at devikabakshi.com.