Bangalore based photographer Pradeep KS, whose photo essay ‘Tent Moments‘ was recently published on Aksgar, talks about the project in more detail and his ongoing project.
Anil Cherukupalli: Where do you come from? How did you get into photography?
Pradeep KS: I was born and brought up in Bangalore. I started my professional life as a designer, seven years ago, with the magazine Time Out Bangalore. And during this time, working closely with the editorial team and the photographers at the magazine helped me understand the importance of the image to tell stories. I began with shooting images of street life before full-fledged narrative work.
AC: How did your photo essay ‘Tent Cinemas’ originate? What was the spark or impetus behind it?
PKS: The single fantastic shot wasn’t enough anymore, I was interested in shooting stories, subjects that required time and thought. I began with old cinema halls in my neighbourhood and around the city, and then slowly, I began to shoot these makeshift tents that showed movies. These tent cinemas usually show B grade skin flicks and I became curious and interested in seeing and eventually photographing the insides of these tents, the people that operate and the paying customers. I didn’t just photograph the tent cinemas about also run-down, single screen cinemas that were also showing these kinds of risky films.
AC: How many tent cinemas did you visit as part of the story? How long did it take to put the essay together?
PKS: I visited over 14 tent cinemas in and around Bangalore. I worked on this photo essay for over a year and a half.
AC: The world of the tent cinemas is a world hiding in the shadows? How did the cinema owners and audience react to you documenting their spaces?
PKS: The tent cinema is a murky space where the crowd is working class men mostly from construction sites and other people from the service industry. It isn’t like these tent cinema owners and customers were willing to be photographed, there were coming there for a good time and didn’t want it on record. In most places, I snuck in my camera during the screening; the outside shoots of the locations were not encouraged but neither were they completely discouraged as well. It took a certain amount of tact. Though, on one of the shoots, I was threatened with a beating by the owner and local goons.
AC: What next? What are you working on currently?
PKS: I’m currently working on a series of portraits on people and transport, and how these two things link in terms of making trade and commerce possible.
AC: Which photographers do you follow?
PKS: I’m not interested in names but rather constantly looking for work that would encourage or help sharpen my own storytelling abilities.
AC: Any advice for aspiring narrative photographers?
PKS: Start with something small, something close to you.
The ‘In Conversation’ feature is an attempt to know more about the motivations and thought processes of photographers featured on Aksgar as well as other photographers undertaking narrative photography projects.