Home >> Podcasts >> Chirag Bhatia on Portraying Stories Through Photography
Show Notes

We’re back with another fantastic episode of Photosynthesis!

In today’s episode, we had a great conversation with Chirag Bhatia, a young hobbyist photographer who is an architect by profession.

We started the conversation by delving into Chirag’s recent photography project—an interesting photo story about the life of a farmer, crafted for a competition.<

He shared insights into his creative process and how his architectural background shapes his storytelling in photography. He offered several tips for clicking a monument – using unique angles and perspectives distinct from conventional framing.

Chirag stressed the importance of going to regular photo walks. He highlighted how these walks have fine-tuned his photography and improved his writing skills, allowing him to creatively express his images through compelling captions.

We wrapped up the episode with some practical advice from Chirag to help young photographers to showcase their works.

A huge thank you to Chirag Bhatia for sharing his insights. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review. Until then, keep capturing those moments that tell a thousand stories.

Listen to the full Podcast on Spotify

Check out Chirag Bhatia’s Works on Instagram – Chirag Bhatia

References mentioned in the podcast –
Communities That Conduct Photo Walks in Delhi
Delhi Explorer
So Delhi
Delhi Photography Club
Dellhipedia

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Transcript

Vineet  

Hi and welcome back to Indivisual and Photosynthesis where we talk to some of India’s best upcoming and experienced photographers, videographers on the art and the business of photography and videography in India. Today we have with us Chirag Bhatia who has a background in architecture and that’s how he actually got into photography. So today is going to be an interesting conversation on how these two interplay. 

the design background and the photography and how it adds to storytelling. So hi Chirag, welcome to the show. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Hi, Vinit. Thank you for having me. 

Vineet  

Hi. I want to share this story with you. The story you were talking about the farmers recently. This is very interesting. Now documentary videography is one thing. Right. Completely different skill set. Major skill set. But documentary photography. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Thank you. 

Vineet  

Now this is a very common question of photographers that how to tell the story in a photo. What is your experience? How did you think of showing the life of farmers in a photo? Capturing it? And 

Chirag Bhatia  

Okay. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Okay, so it was started as like a competition actually. Oh  I mean, whatever I knew. 

Chirag Bhatia  

and told him about our competition. I met him from 3-4 people. One of them was ready. I told him that it’s early and our day starts at this time. 

Chirag Bhatia  

My idea was to know what activities are happening from morning till night. I found out some things from there. What they do in their free time. 

Chirag Bhatia  

how their whole family is contributing to them. There is no farmer who only runs his family. There are other people involved in this. It started like this. I went in the morning at 4.30-5.00 am. They had called me in. They were from Sikh families. They were getting ready. They were wearing their turban. The first photos were like this. They were wearing turban. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Click the photo and they prepare food for their animals. These are early morning photos of March. It was a bit cold that time. These are early morning photos. After that, at 5 o’clock, their son is around 7 standard. He also comes and he is also in sleep. 

Every family’s duty is fixed. So my motive was to show the entire timeline of every family. So this picture shows how their son is taking milk out of the bottle. And you can see that his eyes are closed in the pictures. He is in sleep. He is in sleep but he can see what his duty is. So this is a story telling. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Photos already speak for themselves. Photography and videography are two different things. You have to pose for the photograph. You have to understand the photos and give your perspective. Something will be their perspective. This is the photo. Then we have the parents, their parents, their fathers, how they are contributing. 

The photos I am showing you now show the morning, after preparing the food, he is checking the temperature on his phone, whether it will be rain or tomorrow, this was his short. So this is in storytelling, a whole story is being made of the whole day. In videography, you will see all the sounds. 

sound, how sound is coming, what are the activities, in this you add your own perspective, you add your own sound, you will do your own imaging, what he is doing, what will happen at this time, so this is an interesting part of it, after that, like your next photo, like the photo of his girl, in which he is getting ready from school, so in this, he is doing this work at 5 am, and after that, see, he is going to school, getting ready. 

Chirag Bhatia  

After breakfast, they took their photos. They didn’t know that I took their photos. They were sitting in their courtyard and looking at their old wedding photos. They didn’t know that I took their photos from the back. Later I told them. They said that they sit idle, do something, look at old photos. There are some activities to pass time. 

So in storytelling, the nature of a human is not just sticking to a topic. It is also about how to convey the activities that are happening and add them to the story. It is not just a topic, only related things are happening. So by combining all these, a whole storytelling is made. So expressions are evoked in each photo. 

In the next photos, I showed the evening scene of how he is going to his farm, preparing for his activities. This is a scene of his mother. This was his mother. She was a partitioner of India Pakistan. She came from Pakistan. This box you can see, she brought it with her. She still has it with her. She keeps her old things inside her. She was taking out some things outside. Because there was no electricity in the day. 

So, the darkness was keeping them outside. So, I showed that they are also doing activities. This is not empty, it is a farmer’s house. So, this is conveyed to them. So, in the next photos, in the evening activities, like their field, they have insects, so doctors are called for it. So, they specially called me that day. 

I had to call them two days earlier, so I had to shoot and I did it earlier. So I shot how they take care of their farm. After that, I showed them a photo of their legs in the evening. They have marks of how they have been farmed, how they have been incidentally harmed. They have been bitten by insects, harmful insects, these are the marks of that. 

Chirag Bhatia  

These are photos of their wives, how they cook in traditional way in their village. These are the photos related to that. So, their whole family helps them. Their father is still old age but still feeds them. So, they wake up at 5 in the morning. So, the whole family wakes up at one time because the whole family contributes. So, one person correlates with another. 

that if one person is late, then the work will be left, if one person is feeding the grass, then he has to cover it, and if the other person is doing it, then there is no one in storytelling, when all of them meet together, then a whole story is made. So this happened. 

Vineet  

And how background… So you are an architect. You have studied design and architecture. How does this background help in building a story, in showing a story? What journey is this? 

Chirag Bhatia 

Yes, yes. 

Yes, it is. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Okay, so basically architecture is not only about designing buildings, it is only about designing spaces. We also study human psychology in this. I will tell you a little bit about architecture first, then I will be able to relate to you in the photo work. 

Chirag Bhatia  

If we are designing an interior, then we are using some textures, materials, colors, then what will be the perspective of it? If we have kept some object at a height, then what will be its height? What perspective is being made? What framing is being made of it? So both architecture and photography relate a lot. How do we do it? In photography, we also see our framing, we see the light, we check how much light exposure we see. 

So in architecture also, whatever design we see, whatever perspective we have, whatever we see, whatever design we are doing, it should not be like we are entering a room, so we should not keep something heavy, should be at a distance, so when we shoot in photography also, some activities we should… 

notice that the framing is done, composition is done, composition is being created so the designing is also that we are creating composition that if someone has kept a heavy material or object we keep something lightweight so that it is balanced for the eyes so that when we see we get a balanced view so the same thing happens in photography so these two relate to each other in this way 

Vineet  

That’s very interesting and basically you have learnt design and architecture for many years. Right. In photography, a lot of the technical part is actually about managing exposure. Managing light. Whether you look at the aperture, the entire triangle, the exposure triangle. About managing light. When you are out taking a photo, how much do you stress on the elements of managing light? 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, it is. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes. 

Vineet  

And how much do you stress on actually the composition? This story is here. And do they play together in your own head? 

Chirag Bhatia  

Sometimes we have to be very careful to get the shot done quickly. Like I said earlier, if you want to see the composition, balance, symmetry, 

Chirag Bhatia  

It can be applied in many places but not everywhere because we have to take a short in photography in a second So it doesn’t matter everywhere. If I set ISO or light in this much time, it will go away in a second So these are all after effects So before this, there are some things, some shots that I see that I have so much time, I will do symmetry with it I go here a little or I do it to the camera, I go up and down 

But these terms are not used everywhere. There are technical terms. When I started photography, I didn’t know about these things. I found out about them very late. So slowly, I saw that as I was improving, I saw that if I was clicking something before, then I improved that there should be a new composition. I didn’t know that this is a tangled… 

technical terms are there. I found out later that there is a rule of third and all this too. I was doing this before. So then I felt that I have the same architecture perspective that I am seeing that there is a heavy element or a light element. So I am clicking. So I found out later that there are technical terms. So it was related because I am from a design perspective. So I mean, I am shooting interior food or shooting exterior or designing too. So I know how much I mean. 

how much I have to take in frame, how much I have to leave, what I have to cover and what I don’t have to cover that whoever sees it, it is balanced for the eyes too 

Vineet  

So in framing, where does your architecture experience, so you have visited many monuments right, now there is one classic shot from the front right, which is I would say standard, some people can do it better, some people can’t, there is some equipment, some skill, rest when you go around, what are you looking for in a monument that this will be a good photograph. Because you have that design background, so 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes. 

Chirag Bhatia 

Yes. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, sirs. 

Vineet  

how does it interplay with the classic shot how do you go around 

Chirag Bhatia 

Other than that, most of the monuments are symmetrical and the elements are floral designs so what do the shoots do in this? the ceiling designs are very good the Mughal monuments that I have covered in Delhi NCR so these are mostly symmetrical 

and if there is a monument in front of them, then the garden will be there and all that has to be covered symmetrically and the ceiling design that I was telling you about the ceiling design is also very detailed the floral designs that they have used you can take close shots of them and not just one shot from the front there is a typical shot from the front you can also take angular shots of them 

their design is symmetrical so it is easy to see and it is very balanced you can see any monuments like Safdarjang tomb in Delhi Humayun’s tomb or Taj Mahal so it is very balanced to see 

because the design is already done if I take a photo and leave more space and leave less space here you will find it imbalanced but we have a focus point on it and that is balanced but environment also helps a lot to create composition 

Vineet  

Because I am looking for symmetry. That is a very good one. I am looking for symmetry in movement and especially in Mukul. 

Chirag Bhatia  

yes which is by default in this 

Vineet 

The second thing I am looking for is the other frames. Through the movement, I was looking for a border. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, he did. 

Chirag Bhatia  

I will show you a photo In this photo, if any element comes in framing, if any human element comes, it looks very good. Even in clicking. 

Vineet  

Because I am trying to figure out that if I am going to any building, like lots of buildings have so much variety. There are interplay gardens, windows, stone architecture. How do you bring out a monument in a way that is different from the classic framing? I am trying to understand this. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, Steve. 

Vineet  

Because not just for photography, see everything has been photographed a million times. Right. We do photography for ourselves too. That we get to see something new in them. So what should happen? Again I want to get walking around, frames are done. Now this frame, you being an architect, now leave the exposure triangle aside. Let’s see the light like this. Like what is the interplay of light, what are you looking for. 

Chirag Bhatia 

Yes, yes, yes. 

Yes, sir. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, light plays the most important role So, like the niche points in the monuments the light enters from there which is stuck on a point so I can take some photos of it after that I mostly convert the light into monochrome so it has a very good effect and now the monument is static I can’t change it now I play the surrounding things 

If I click on the outside view from the inside of the door or windows, it becomes a good framing that we are getting a good framing of the inside of the monument and outside is covered and sometimes the niche points of windows or netting are there so the views come out very good from netting Now I will show you this photo, as I am clicking from inside 

Chirag Bhatia  

the view from the holes of the net is of the interior so you have to see from which perspective you can take it so these are not one but many points 

Vineet  

Join yourself in the interesting one. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes I mean, someone is coming, everyone has their own perspective. Some are coming for photography, some are coming for monuments. So now my perspective of clicking photos will be different, so I get to learn from that. And people come from different backgrounds. 

I have improved my writing skills I am able to express my thoughts and thoughts and not only that I am giving my photos to someone that’s why I have improved and photovox is not only for monuments in photovox if someone has gone to the market they click daily activities of the market if someone is doing something then it will be their activity so there are very interesting frames portrait photography is very good I will attach some portrait photos 

Click on the photo box that I have shown you Portrait photography captures good emotions It helps a lot It’s not like you have to click on the same photo box You are open to click on the same photo box Then you can group share the photos We will see who took the photos Now everyone is in the same place But everyone has different photos Everyone has seen different things It’s very interesting You can learn a lot from it 

Vineet  

I have to say that my writing has improved. I wanted to ask this because I have also done this on Instagram. Right, now two people can take the same photo and attach a story together. Now you are a creative person and your creativity is not like this is a photography skill and this is a design skill. Everything is interplaying. So writing is also a part, obviously storytelling is… 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yeses. 

Vineet  

Right, more expressed through writing. How is this? When you are taking a photo, are you also thinking what I will write about it? What experience, what emotion? What do you write about the photos? 

Chirag Bhatia 

Yes, sir. 

Chirag Bhatia  

When I talk about the perspective… Okay, let me tell you. Let me tell you about the farmer’s story. I had to choose the title of this story. I had to choose a title that was not just a farmer’s story. It would be very boring. So I chose the title of this story. I saw how much work he was doing all day. The title of this story was The Gentleman. 

So my perspective was that gentleman is not only wearing tie and going to meetings from morning till evening So I said that he is also a gentleman, he is working so hard all day, he has to see all this Means how much effort is required for a bowl of rice, I have seen from morning till night When he told me that he is going to work from 4.30 am, I knew how difficult it will be Still I reached, let’s go from 4.30 am till night 

Chirag Bhatia  

And unfortunately, when I shot this, it rained after 3 days. Unfortunately, he told me to come here and show you something. So, this is his photo. He was standing and his field was covered in rain. So, I told him to watch it and click the photo. 

So, it was bad for them but they were also taking good parts in this. They were cooperating with me so much that they called me and said that look, it’s raining, the fields are ruined, you want to take a picture of this too. They didn’t have any idea but this is the last photo of them. And there was one photo where they were setting their seed. So, to set this too, they… 

There are some mirrors behind the tractor, we are setting from there and we took a photo from there. You will see that I have also come in some photos. So we come to writing. So writing is that whenever I take, then in storytelling, writing also goes along with what I will convey. In less words, what I will be able to convey more. That if someone reads, then he understands. And this is the writing of the photo, if I am clicking a photo, if anyone is clicking the same photo, then it has a different perspective. It will relate to something else. It can relate to something else. 

Chirag Bhatia  

I learnt this from the photo walks and the photo walks in Delhi in street photography that if I see something, how can I relate it for example, I will tell you about Delhi streets where food was being cooked, there was something circular like bread, I related that 

I wrote something about it by relating it to the moon So it is very easy to write about your things By writing, by telling someone 

Vineet  

That is true and poetry and writing may be a… Actually, the difference is that more important than rhyming in poetry is how can you convey in 20 words what the author might convey in a full chapter. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes, yes. 

So, yes, everyone has their own style, which conveys it. So, there has been a lot of improvement in this as well. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, sure. I will write my own captions. I will write some captions with some photos. 

Vineet  

Because I have also seen this, we all end up liking and associating with a photo more if there is a story attached with it. If there is a story in the photo, if you write more, it will be more, it will be better. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yeah, that’s sure, sure. Yes, that’s… 

Vineet  

So, I would advise if someone is getting into this, go for photo walks. I am also thinking about it. Winter has come in Delhi. So, I would advise if someone is getting into this, go for photo walks. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, you should go there. There are many photo works on Saturdays and Sundays. Mostly, like Intek Heritage Box, they create photos from their side. Mostly, 50% of the photos are free. There are some like Andaz Hotel in Delhi. They have a book, Things to do in Delhi. They create a lot of photo works there. I have been to Kharibawli and the spices market. 

I went to flower market at 5 am Flower market has good shots I have found new places in Delhi NCR So these are very useful 

Vineet  

And this photo walks all over India, in every major city. And if it doesn’t happen, you can organize it. People will come. Because these stories need to be told. These stories, especially the story of the farmer. Again, despite so many millions of people, how many people have cameras? Everyone is on social media all day. How do these stories reach people? Like how… You pulled this out. I think you were saying this was for an award show. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes, yes. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, yes, it’s for the competition. 

Vineet  

After that what do you feel? You had a bad experience. You feel that the world wants to hear me. What is the best way to then spread this story? 

Chirag Bhatia  

The story line that they were uploading on their website, I was in the top 100 stories in Haryana. So from top 100 to top 10 stories. So this story was in Haryana at number 1. But the top 3 stories were different. 

Chirag Bhatia 

So, I had a design magazine through which I was able to get the information about the show. I gave them my photos and they asked me to write their writing. I explained each and every photo and then they covered it in the magazine. 

Chirag Bhatia  

So you have to search for the photo story competition or magazine that publishes their own story and if you have made it so good, you have completed the whole story and created a good storytelling So approach them These are the options Rest of the social media is there Yes 

Vineet  

Question be answered. Hi. Yes. 

Chirag Bhatia  

You can easily attach photos in Reels and show storytelling I am going to show you a few seconds of the real time 

Vineet  

Have you made it? What has your experience been? Because I haven’t been able to get into the real world of photography. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, reels are running now. Because they are very attractive and very addictive. And reels are running now. Their algorithm has changed a lot in the photo. There are no likes and likes in the photos. They have pushed so much. Likes, followers, whatever content the photographer has, most 99% of the things are now running in reels. 

Vineet  

Perfect, perfect. I think we will end on that spot. Thanks Shirag. It was a very interesting conversation on design and how creativity is not limited to one thing. It is found everywhere and they are all interlinked. Thanks Shirag and thanks everyone for tuning in. See you next week. Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube and Spotify or wherever you are watching or hearing this. Thanks. Bye bye. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Thank you. Thank you so much for your time. 

Chirag Bhatia  

Yes, it’s. 

I was. 

Chirag Bhatia  

in this real life. 

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