This month, the spotlight is on Avantika Meattle. In this interview, she talks about her seven year long stint in Bollywood, her travels across the world, and her return to Delhi as a wedding photographer. Pixpa finds out more about her love and passion for creating meaningful memories.
You have captured moments of what seem to be the two greatest Indian loves – weddings and movies. Tell us about your experience as a spectator/participant in these two spectacular slices of Indian life.
We, Indians, love our weddings, and we love our movies. Indian weddings and movies embody the splendour, and the richness of our society, not to mention the grand culture, heritage, traditions, attire, dreams, and aspirations of the people. Indeed, weddings are like movies nowadays.
I have been associated with both aspects closely. To me, the level of involvement and the emotional connect weddings and movies have with society is simply extra-ordinary, and unique.
In a wedding, the entire family is together – friends, colleagues, relatives celebrate. This is the day that the couple, the bride especially, has dreamt of, for so long. There is a plethora of things going through her mind – excitement, anticipation, nervousness, anxiety, happiness – it is a cocktail of emotions. As a photographer (and someone who has been in that place), I can connect very well with these emotions. I love capturing these nuances on camera, in fact, these are the pictures bring back fond memories every time you look at them.
The same applies for movies where we celebrate the Indian dreams and aspirations. It is very fulfilling to be able to get that one shot which will connect with the common Indian.
What part of your job excites you the most?
I love capturing moments. In this profession, the highest accolade is when the person you have photographed feels that your picture has conveyed everything he/she was going through in that moment. It could be an actor or a bride. My real excitement comes from the knowledge that these pictures will remain long after everything is over, and they will invoke all those wonderful memories.
For instance, my pictures of Priyanka and John Abraham in Dostana, Aishwarya Rai in Umrao Jaan are ingrained in the public memory. Till this day, whenever I see brides use the photographs shot by me, I can’t help feeling super excited.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Anyone can click a picture – cameras are good and technical details are easy to learn. However, establishing an emotional connection and timing the picture with the right framing, lighting, etc are the finer details that make it more enjoyable.
My inspiration is the emotional connection. I search for that unique emotion which captures the essence of the event. My camera is the tool – but the entire focus is to bring out and capture the emotion.
From Italy to Udaipur, marriage seems to have taken you around the world. Which, in your opinion, is the most special moment of a wedding? Tell us about some such moments that you have captured on film
In my opinion, the best moment is when the bride is getting ready for the wedding. At this juncture, brides, across nations and cultures, are overwhelmed with emotions. The rest of the ceremonies and rituals allow you to capture vibrant and colourful shots, but nothing comes close to the beautiful image of a bride getting ready for the wedding. Also, I feel it really helps that I can connect with the bride on a very personal level, calm her, and capture the excitement and anticipation.
How would you describe your experience of working with children? Are they challenging subjects?
Babies are very challenging, but they are great to work with. The challenge is obvious – they have their moods and they will not comply with any request if they don’t want to. So, one has to be very patient and play with the baby till she/he is active enough to click.
However, the best part about babies is that they don’t know what is going on, so they don’t freeze like adults do. Their expressions are natural and real, it’s a pleasure to go crazy taking pictures of a happy baby.
What would be your dream project?
My dream project is to do a wedding or couple shoot in a place like Alaska, Antarctica or even deep sea diving!! I just love these spaces! Frankly, would love to work in settings where the nature provides the perfect backdrop – snow capped mountains, beautiful beaches, perhaps, in the middle of nowhere.
What kind of equipment do you use?
I have been using Canon set up from the last 4 years. I am currently using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (Body). I keep on building my equipment with all kind of lenses, lights, flashes, slaves. The list is endless.
One thing you’d advise fellow photographers to avoid.
I can only tell what I try and avoid – try not to push any agenda. You may have a great concept or a pose in mind, but if your client is not naturally comfortable in that, you should try something else. Essentially, your concept needs to align with the client, and not the other way.
Also, sometimes the best pictures can be shot with the simplest of cameras. Know your art well. Read a lot. Practice even more.
Any advice you would like to give to the Pixpa community.
We should always keep trying to learn. There is so much to learn, and a picture can, indeed, say a thousand words. Every photograph has the potential to teach something – sometimes, it may be a great new insight or sometimes it would be just to learn what not to do. Be a student always, and keep trying to sharpen your skills.
The goal is to let your picture convey the entire story without words.
Tell us about your experience of building your website on Pixpa.
It was super easy! I am really happy that I could design it according to my taste and get it going so soon. The customer service of Pixpa is also fantastic. They are very helpful people. I am really happy to have built a complete portfolio website in the most convenient manner possible.