'Our deserts are alive with flora, fauna and communities'

Ajit Rana took to the camera, which he was introduced to by his father, at the age of 12. Soon, he started covering every aspect of it — from taking pictures to developing and enlarging them. Over the years, he earned the reputation of being a quality photographer, and is currently exhibiting his photographs for the first time as ‘People and Landscapes of the Living Deserts of Rajasthan and Ladakh’. In an email interaction with Metrolife, he tells Shweta Sharma about his interests, the solo show, and the challenges of being a photographer.

What led to the idea for this exhibition?
I have a fairly extensive collection of photographs taken all over the world. But to get a semblance of order, one needs to have a theme. My work is in the Thar Desert and I have travelled to the three deserts of India, so I decided to make a collection of photographs based on this. The theme is ‘Living Deserts’ and this covers not just people but also wildlife, festivals, and life in general in the deserts.

What does the word ‘living’ symbolise?
‘Living’ is about what makes the deserts come alive. Our deserts are not like Arabia or the Sahara where you only have sand for hundreds of kilometres. Our deserts are alive with flora, fauna and communities.

Where and when were the images clicked?
All these images have been shot over the last five years during my two trips to Ladakh, one trip to the Rann of Kutch, and of course my endless escapades in
Rajasthan, as my work is based on rural tourism there and so is my mother’s native home.

Were all your subjects willing to be clicked?
All my subjects were willing to be clicked. In Rajasthan, people love being photographed.

What kind of photography do you enjoy most?
Faces have always fascinated me. My constant effort has been to capture someone’s story in a single frozen moment. I have put up some images that represent stories of hope, and contentment, as also the experience of life, and its cruelty. I also enjoy landscapes and wildlife.

What are the challenges of being a photographer?
Being at the right place at the right time is the key, and this is mostly luck. You can however create the right time by waiting for the correct moment and correct light, so that all the elements in your photograph come together nicely. When you are travelling by road, there are times when you feel a certain scene would be ideal in a certain light but you cannot wait there the whole day. Or something happens that you want to capture but the light is not right. So, while some things can be controlled by you, some are left to luck!

The show is on till August 30 at IIC Annexe, Lodhi Estate, from 11 am to 7 pm.

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