Though the challenge is about smart cropping techniques that change the way we interpret a photograph, these pictures are exactly the opposite. Call me ‘old school’ but one of my earliest lessons in photography taught me to frame ‘in camera’ and the lesson has stayed with me ever since. Those were days when analog photography made shooting a hundred random photos expensive and wasteful. Life was a lot slower then, of course. I wonder how greats like Henri Cartier Bresson would respond to this challenge in a manic digital age like ours.
I think framing perfectly in camera is far more challenging. You must be a keen observer with predictive qualities of a tennis player to know when to hit the shutter. Hence, I don’t have a before/after series. The before is in the after, as I offer a perspective on architecture from a distant past.
This is a set of photos I had taken on a trip to discover Mogul architecture. The grand scale of the Fatehpur Sikri & Agra forts offer wonderful insights into ‘perspective’ as visualised and executed by artists way back in the 1500’s. Though the structures are built on principles of symmetry, they’re hard to capture so perfectly symmetrical! After all everything was hand-cut/hand-made. The geometry is fascinating. You see it in the calligraphy, in the mosaics on the facade, on the columns, the balconies, in fact in the architectural plan itself. I hope these perspectives tell an engaging story.
Akbar, the greatest Moghul emperor of all, tried to unite India by marrying a Christian, a Hindu and a Muslim wife among many others. His fort in Agra has four corners uniting different faiths by depicting and fusing architectural motifs from all over the world; executed by a variety of artisans of different faiths and geographies of India.
This is where the queens rested, worked and played: facing a massive courtyard in front. The rows of doors and windows are their rooms with beautiful little trellised balconies. This architectural concept was and is popular all over North India, particularly Rajasthan. One of Akbar’s wives was a Rajput Hindu. This is her wing.
The Trompe-l’œil creates a sense of celestial drama. There seemed to be a strong European (Cristian) influence, something like the churches and mosques I’ve seen in Turkey.
One of the royal courtyards the queens and her attendants probably gazed into from the opposite side. I was intrigued by the penthouse above!
For years together, post independence, these magnificent forts remained abandoned and unattended, leading to destruction and cheap graffiti rendered by surreptitious visitors who sought free refuge in its grand interiors.
The motifs seen on the mosaics and paintings on the walls, arches etc have inspired many a textile designers over several generations. Be it block print motifs or the indigenous Kalamkari designs, most ethnic Indian prints borrow generously from Mogul architecture seen here and in possibly Hyderabad & Rajasthan.
A stroll around the courtyards of the kings, transport you into the backdrop of a miniature painting.
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