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Monday, Apr 21, 2003

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Candid camera

While `Perception,' the exhibition of photographs by JNTU students showcases their talent and enthusiasm, there seems to be a lack of passion to capture the variety of human situations and contemporary issues.

TONAL HIGHLIGHTS: Harish Kumar Nadendla's 'Leaves'

PHOTOGRAPHY WOULD certainly find a place if we were to make a list of things in which Andhra Pradesh has still not made much of a mark at the national or international level. The general apathy toward quality and a self-indulgent resistance to exposure to the best happening within and outside the country - well, these are the glories of our much touted telugudanam. Needless to say this hurts the aspiring young the most. `Perception', an exhibition of photographs by 16 students of the bachelor course of Fine Arts in Photo and Visual Communication (1998-2003) amply illustrates the situation. But pity these young chaps for you can't blame them too much.

They have to reckon with scarce institutional resources and lack of inspiring masters closer home. The pics on display at the ill-lit gallery of JNTU at Masab Tank are a result of a `portfolio' paper the students have to take in the second semester of third year in their four-year course. They have to submit ten photographs in one of the eight or so optional categories, extending from abstract patterns to documentary and photo-journalism. It's apparent the students have worked hard on it within the limited resources available to them. Some of them travelled as far as Kerala and the Andaman islands to build up their portfolio. Others taxed their friends and classmates to work as models for their shoots. They had to struggle against lack of enough equipment and quality chemicals, and unprofessional commercial labs in the twin cities where you never get the print right in the first instance. But one can see the latent talent and enthusiasm in them through the pictures. Harish Kumar Nadendla, who won the overall best entrant prize, was unable to procure the double weighted black and white paper he needed to print his black and white close-up (macro) shots of leaves and twigs. So he had to compromise on the subtle tonal gradations and go for digital printing on colour paper. P. Sandip's ambition is to specialise in food and advertising photography. Luckily one of the hotel management colleges in the city helped him out with the dishes required but every time they called him up he had to carry his personal lighting equipment, rather basic, at short notice and complete the shoots quickly. A couple of students have experimented with multiple exposure using the Mamiya medium format camera available at the college and the results are interesting such as the gold medal winner Phani Kumar's pictures of glass ware and other objects using only a single light source.

CAPTURING MOOD: I Kranti's `Girl'

Predictably landscapes are the favourite theme of many of these youngsters (Appalaswamy, Ramu, Viswanadham and Ashwin Kumar). However in terms of composition and choosing a subject of interest, there is a lot of scope for improvement. Under the people, documentary and photo-journalism categories, you have Vinay Kumar's work on child-labour, Varaprasad's pictures of Banjaras in Mahboobnagar district, and Naresh's shots from Kerala.

While many of these photos look posed and the subjects too obviously conscious, you do find shots like Ravi Kumar's group of jeans clad youngsters (in the Fashion category) with their aggression and all, where things have fallen in place. There is also a partially successful experiment with cross-processing by I.Kranti on show.

VISUAL DELIGHT: S. Sivaprasad's work.

Overall, the exhibition raises some disturbing questions. Why is there such lack of passion to capture the plenitude of life? And variety of human situations and emotions, contemporary issues and themes?

One could overlook many faults of technique and finish if this zest to bring out the hues, shades and forms of the visible world imbued with a personal touch was more evident.

PLAY OF LIGHT: Phani Kumar's `Two bottles'.

The faculty and university authorities would do well to consider why this basic objective remains unfulfilled even after the students have put in three or four years of specialised study.

After all, JNTU's photography course has been in existence for over four decades now! And is the only such course in the State.


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