“When I go out into the city, I have no plan. I walk down one street, and when I am drawn to turn the corner into another, I do. Really, I am like a dog: I decide where to go by the smell of things, and when I am tired, I stop.”
NGTI Raw File, National Geographic Traveller India’s new monthly series that celebrates travel photography in all its glory, spotlights the craft of photographers, who bring us all those wallpaper-worthy shots. Every month, an accomplished photographer will share a signature photo with us, and give us a rare peek into a special story behind that picture.
In the second instalment of this series, we feature UK-based Dimpy Bhalotia, a fine art street photographer with an abiding love for places. Remarkably, the multiple-award-winning photographer’s instrument of choice is the iPhone.
IN FOCUS: Bhalotia’s work in focus, most of which is in monochrome, emphasises the extraordinariness of daily life. For the past few years, she has travelled over the world, capturing streets, ghats, bridges, and the seaside and their human and animal dwellers. A sense of sudden drama and visual poetry mark her style, as she goes about trailing shapes and freezing motion in a calligraphic fashion.
SIGNATURE SHOT: An iconic capture in her body of work, this shot of a dog tasting the air juxtaposed against a group of people out boating, was taken in January 2020 in India.
“I never have any preconceived vision in my head when I hit the streets. I capture what I experience then and there. This photograph I shot quick like a bolt of lightning, in a fraction of a second,” she shares.
Interestingly, this shot, titled Urban Animal, is part of a series where Bhalotia decided to take on her fear of dogs, and eventually got the better of.
“Cynophobia dominated all my childhood, so much so that avoiding parks and elevators became a routine. It got worse when I got into street photography, as I had to be on the streets more than ever. But my belief that the universe is a piece of art and so is every soul and street, couldn’t kill my inspiration that makes photography my fitoor (passionate obsession).”
At a certain point, she decided to find a way out and put an end to it. “I couldn’t endure my life like this forever. I used my camera as a bulwark between the dog and myself. I practised a lot. And after a lot of toing and froing, my photography helped me to overcome this fear. Now I inch as close to dogs as I can. Photography has been a gift of freedom and hope to me in the midst of chaotic cynophobia,” she recalls.
Prannay Pathak dreams about living out of a suitcase and retiring to the island of Hamneskär to watch films in solitary confinement. He is Assistant Editor (Digital) at National Geographic Traveller India.