From office goer to ‘moving compass’: The journey of this rising photographer

Some say that it’s a golden age for the shutterbugs as the social media reach has elevated the community of ‘moment-capturers’ to a new high. These claims are usually backed by gazillion photos posted on social media on a daily basis, which are in turn refined on the high-end editing tools to make it more ‘likeable’.

Meanwhile, a different school of thought has also prevailed in the background which highlights the charm of raw photography — untouched by enhancing tools and is wary of staged moments.

“My idea of a unique shot is that there are plethora of moments that are being played around yourself, whatever the location might be. All you need to do is to be on a watch for the perfect moment that suits your sensibility,” said Mohit Kharbanda, who is an emerging photographer, and identifies himself as ‘moving compass’ on Instagram.

While stating that the editing tools are meant for minor rearrangements, Mohit stressed on the point that the overt reliance on editing tools restricts the development of skill, which is a vital element when it comes to any kind of art.

His strong emotions about the art of photography and firm ethics in his work are the function of his escapades, which he resorts to after a substantial amount of ‘corporate time’ at his desk.

A post graduate in Business management, the Punjab-based photographer has had his fair share of exploration inside India as well as foreign locations such as Switzerland, France and Czech Republic

“My idea of travelling is all about unexplored place as the tourist sites restrict the canvas of an artist. Whether it is India or any other country, I have always preferred new places, that were not about validating the popularity of a location” said Mohit.

Elaborating on the point, he came up with the example of Jama Masjid, which has been crowned as the ‘coolest’ spot when it comes to Delhi’s landscape and several photographers click engrossing images of the picturesque landmark, especially during the month of Ramzan.

These photographers, according to Mohit, are not looking for the “cool vibe”, which the millennial have associated the place with. He added that they are exploring Old Delhi as a whole and in the process, they manage to bring out a unique shot of the historic monument.

The talks about the religious sight conjure numerous ‘spiritual’ memories’ from his life which have developed his perspective during his solo outings.

During his visit to Varanasi, Mohit once found himself sitting at the Manikarnika Ghat, which witnesses immolation of numerous dead bodies on daily basis, as per Hindu rituals.

While sitting there, he inquired from one of the families from Kerala, who were performing last rites of their relative, about the immense effort they took to carry the body for such a long distance ‘just to perform the ceremony’. The family replied that a lot of people say that it’s a ‘ticket to heaven’.

Meanwhile, a saint at the spot had been noticing the philosophical dilemma that Mohit was experiencing and asked him about his choice of hangout spot, which was so aloof.

He spilled out his thought about the redundancy of such rituals which costs people massively in terms of emotions as well as financially.

The saint smiled and said, “When things could not be concluded in your mind, it’s better to let it loose,” following which he vanished from the spot before Mohit could snap out of this thought bubble.

“It’s experiences like these that keeps me motivated to keep at it (travelling)”, Mohit said.

As he is a firm believer in the ethics of photography, Mohit offered his opinion on #Poverty porn controversy too, in which an Australian photographer placed fake food in front of underprivileged people in a Uttar Pradesh village as a device to create a series of photographs, thereby facing massive backlash on social media.

Opining on the incident, he said that he has shot underprivileged people in the past but at the same time said that its all about the approach.

“If you are doing it for advancing your career, it’s outright wrong but there is no specific device to judge the intentions of an artist,” he said.

Mohit believes that if we engage the person and share their abandonment or solace, whatever they are experiencing, it’s okay for you to document them.

To make it clear, he narrated one of his incidents out of his ‘travel diary’, when he was able to communicate to people in the remote villages near Gangotri in Uttarakhand.

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ना जाने कितनो को बेघर कर गयी; दूर पहाड़ों पर यह इतराती हुई बर्फ़~ इन ख़ानाबदोशों की तकलीफ़ को किसने महसूस किया “कबीर” ? तू या यह तेरे कांपते हर्फ़ ? Last three weeks have been quite exhilarating. Inactive on social media, but actively exploring the unexplored on a road trip through Uttarakhand. The trip has taken me to unknown, unexplored places, having had the pleasure of hearing interesting stories of the locals. To places which are the least favourite to visit at this time of the year. To places which have been shut as temperatures reach sub zero. To houses abandoned for months as harsh winters make them inhabitable. To people who stand strong as nature robs them of comfort and normalcy. This picture is first in the series capturing stories of abandonment, of people having to leave the comfort of their homes, with no option at their hands, of resilience in the face of adversity. 2017 brought me tons of experiences, known, unknown and unexpected. Thank you all for supporting my work, for loving these moments, for living them with me as I share my escapades. Here's hoping 2018 gets the compass moving to explore unknown soils and gives me a chance to share many more anecdotes with all of you. #movingcompass #shotoniphone #kabeerwrites #afpphoto

A post shared by Mohit Kharbanda (@movingcompass) on

“During winter, those villagers have to abandon their livelihood, shelter and every basic amenities as the place becomes unhabitable during winters. After I talked to them, I got a sense of what is the real meaning of their struggle. Post such interactions, even if you click a random pic, your intent cannot be questioned. ”

Mohit added that he doesn’t want to restrict an artist between right and wrong but at the same time said that the art speaks for itself.

“If the intent of the artist is clear, it will be reflected in his art,” said Mohit in a firm tone.