Kochi photographer Ambily Pravda captures still life in startling ways

Photographer Ambily Pravda’s images are a play of light and shadow

September 09, 2022 10:31 am | Updated 10:31 am IST

Ambily Pravda

Ambily Pravda

The 30 photographs by Ambily Pravda on show at Durbar Hall Art Gallery demand a closer look. Many look like oil paintings rendered on canvas . “ The canvas gives that quality. “Material needed to print photographs - bromide paper, chemicals for processing - are all hard to come by. The option then was to print on canvas,” says the veteran photographer, whose works were on show at, Chayapadam.2, Durbar Hall Art Gallery from August 30 to September 2. . 

With three decades of experience , this is Pravda’s first solo show. All the photographs on the show — fishers and their catch, a man sipping tea at a tea shop, houses on the side of a hill lit up at night, an oarsman on a snake boat... have been shot in natural light and are striking in the simplicity. “I have tried to capture the play of light and shadow. It is the quality of light that gives life to a photograph. The best time to click is between 4 pm and 9 am. The light at midday can be unflattering.”

The play of light and shadow give a chiaroscuro effect to the images adding a sense of movement. If you look long enough at them they appear to be moving. The colours also give the photographs a pop art-like quality. 

“Photography is hard work, we don’t have the luxury of a painter or any other artist who mines his imagination for his creative work. The perfect frame is not there, a photograph is not waiting for you to click it. You work with an idea of how you would like a frame and then wait for the photo to happen.” The photographs have been clicked during the course of his travels. 

Pravda, , is a well-known face among photographers of Kochi. He runs Pravda Studio at Kacheripady. Before turning to commercial photography, he worked with cartoonist Yesudas on the satirical magazine Cut-Cut as a photographer and layout artist. He also worked as a still photographer for 15-odd films before shifting to commercial photography. This is his third show, the previous ones were held in 2013 and February 2022 (Alappuzha). 

“I have so many photographs saved on my computer. Rather than just keep them there, I thought why not share them with others,” he says about the show adding that “There is hardly a market for prints of photographs such as these, I don’t expect to make money out of these anyway.”

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