In an age of Instagram and capturing images on cellphones, photographer Ankit Chawla makes prints the old-fashioned way, producing stunning visuals of newborns, pregnant mothers and children on a variety of media and with a distinct vintage look, saying "you can't beat the moment an image appears"."It starts with taking an image on my digital camera or iPhone. This is converted to monochrome and inverted in the software. A printout is then taken on an OHP (overhead projector) sheet. This is then transferred to the medium being used that has been coated with a solution using chemicals like potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate mixed with water. This is then exposed to the sun, rewashed and left to dry," Chawla, 27, who operates out of his 'Giggles' studio in south Delhi's Gulmohar Park, told IANS.
"You can't beat the moment when each time you see an image appear out of the washing trays," Chawla said, adding: "I have made my prints on different materials like postcards, watercolour paper and even linen.""For me making these prints is the most magical process, It is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving and getting your hands dirty in the darkroom setup. The process has taught me to be here and now and feel alive," said Chawla, who schooled at the SLS DAV Public School in east Delhi's Mausam Vihar, where his parents live. He also has a degree in communications from the GGS Indraprastha University.
How did he come by this 18th century technique?"There are many alternative photography techniques being practised all over the world. I was researching on the net and came across the cyanotype and albumin techniques that are now my most favourite ones. Thereafter, I learnt the techniques from a Goan artist, Edson Berry Dias, who is also a co-founder of the Goa Centre for Alternative Photography."He attended a five-day workshop and was hooked for life. Print-making is now his full-time profession.
Why the focus on children?
"I like to capture the moments I share with the families. I feel children carry a sense of wonder, beauty, and magic. Babies help me connect myself to my own childhood. Being with them brightens up some of my most cherished memories of the time when I was a child (I still am)."With the pictures I make, I try and relive my own life as the characters keep changing. I feel like I have a childlike awe. I can stop and gaze at the sunshine and the shade endlessly," Chawla added.He hasn't exhibited his work yet, though he has been featured in some magazines and even international child photography fora."I plan to come up with a strong body of work before I exhibit," Chawla concluded.