Young Shiv Ahuja's passion for music has found an outlet in capturing the unique moments of a rock concert.
Rock concerts are high-adrenaline affairs, the stage wrapped in an energy that permeates and moves hundreds among the screaming audience below. Capturing all this and tiny moments that might pass with the blink of an eye — a frown here, rendering of a shrill note there — is no easy task. Shiv Ahuja is 20, and into music concert photography, as much for his love for music as for photography.
Currently on display at The Living Room Café & Kitchen in New Delhi's Hauz Khas Village, Shiv's photographs freeze musicians from bands like Parikrama, Indian Ocean, Advaita, Menwhopause, Junkyard Groove, Little Babooshka's Grind and Punkh, to name a few — all in black and white.
It's been two years since this final year Economics student of the city' Kirori Mal College first started clicking concert photos to gain entry to concerts he wanted to listen to. Citing one concert, he recalls, “Menwhopause were doing a show called ‘At Home', where they had called in some actors and dancers to perform along with them. I really wanted to get those images, and the only way they would let me shoot was when I told them I'd give them the photographs.”
Shiv's come a long way now, photographing some of the country's most popular rock fests like ‘Eastwind', ‘Big Horn' and ‘Great Indian Rock'. “At ‘Eastwind', there were 60 bands, Indian and international, performing only original music, no covers. It was the first musical festival that really felt like one,” he remembers.
Replete with emotions
Why black-and-white? “In black-and-white photographs you don't see a lot of things. All the distractions, like colourful stage lights and smoke, are gone. You're looking at just the emotion and the moment. Plus, I like the grainy effect that gives the photographs a very rock vibe,” explains the photographer.
The image of Ameeth Thomas of Junkyard Groove sprawled on stage, guitar in hand, is one of Shiv's favourites. “Earlier, bands usually played in pubs and indoor venues. Junkyard Groove was one of the first bands that played at an outdoor venue. At this concert, I was just getting off stage and had my back turned to the musicians. Suddenly I turn around and see Ameeth flat on the floor. And he's singing!”
Clicking a bunch of people who are too busy to pose or pause during a performance must be difficult. “It is important not to get in their way. And you don't want to get in the audience's way either. It is a problem at times. It's about getting my work done while ensuring that I don't spoil it for them,” Shiv says.
Shiv is an admirer of the works of Naveen Dubey and the legendary Bob Gruen of Rolling Stone magazine. “Dubey was the first person who started shooting bands in Delhi. He gave me a lot of pointers,” says Shiv.
What now, since he's just months away from graduating? “I haven't decided. I'm certain that I won't be getting into studies immediately. I want to do some more of rock ‘n' roll photography in the meantime. I'm also looking at studying something in photography,” he reveals. “Later, I could move to photographing other forms of music as well, like folk or classical.”
(The exhibition of Rock & Roll photographs by Shiv Ahuja is on at The Living Room Café & Kitchen, 31, Hauz Khas Village.)