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Dear <<First Name>>,

If you are anything like me you have a fair idea of what you like to wear, hear, watch, eat…in short you have a style. Style defines us, makes us predictable, and keeps the world reasonably assured of the limits to our ridiculousness, and the extent of our affections that it may expect.

It also keeps us boring.

As a photographer I have spent agonising years finding my style. Although I am still a work in progress, my photographs do have a look and feel that I am now identified with.

I was once delighted when a framer in Dubai remarked to one of my patrons who had taken a print to her, ‘Ah! It is a Jitendra Chaturvedi’. Small pleasures that only struggling artists understand.

Lately, my style has experienced some turbulence, waking me up to new possibilities. This mail is about my not-my-style work.

Today I write about:

  • two Franco-Dutch girls in Singapore who jolted me out of my style

  • my dabbling in other-style portraits and landscapes

  • a prescription that may free you from your style

I hope you find this entertaining.

‘Girls just like us but with golden hair’

Zoom. Open edition 8"x8"

This shoot with Lara and Julia forced me to rethink my style

I had incredibly good luck to shoot Lara and Julia at Singapore.

The sisters are accomplished actresses, very easy to direct. They followed my directions precisely and expressions came to them naturally. This is quite a feat considering my aversion to smile on photographs and the girls’ natural cheer.

The Franco-Dutch girls speak fluent Mandarin; They are accomplished Chinese folk dancers, as well as adept at Latin dances including Cha-Cha-Cha, and Samba. They have excelled with distinction at the Trinity college exams, arguably the most difficult music exams, and are fascinated with STEM studies!

Yet they are so well integrated in the Singapore/Chinese society that the locals refer to them as ‘girls just like us but with golden hair’.

If I said I strode confidently into the studio, I’d be lying. My style is sombre minimalist portraits, which is not how I’d want to portray young happy girls.

I wanted to create a portrait that included both the girls telling the story of their sisterly love and professional competitiveness.

The portraits of sisterly rivalry that we created together are a refreshing break from my usual style. These are detailed, expansive, and colour! I have been jolted far out of my style by these young ladies, and I am loving it.

Hat tip to their mother Magdalena for supporting us enthusiastically!

Please do shower some love and appreciation at Lara and Julia’s Instagram profile. You could also search for them at Instagram @laravansteenjulia.

Here are some more pictures from the shoot. I hope you like this diversion, and also that it saves my photography from being a bore.

‘Dance of the Swans’, Limited edition print, 1/12. 16”x26”. Price indication starts at USD 1,735

‘Nurture’

‘Dance of the Swans’, Limited edition print, 1/12. 16”x26”. Price indication starts at USD 1,735

‘Readiness’

My style has wavered earlier too

Demands of subjects and goals have made me experiment with more glamorous styles before…like the portraits of Ms Geetika Ganju Dhar, and Ms Aadya Sharma below.

(Click on the portraits to see more from the shoots)

‘Dance of the Swans’, Limited edition print, 1/12. 16”x26”. Price indication starts at USD 1,735
‘Dance of the Swans’, Limited edition print, 1/12. 16”x26”. Price indication starts at USD 1,735
‘Dance of the Swans’, Limited edition print, 1/12. 16”x26”. Price indication starts at USD 1,735

…even in landscapes, I’ve often veered away from my signature black and white…

A rail station in Yorkshire

Isle of Skye, Scotland. Surely this won’t do in ‘my style’

An airport in Iceland.

So, how does one break the prison of one’s style?

I won’t prescribe what you may do to change what you wear, or eat…that kind of style advice from me would be a disaster. But, I can tell a thing or two about how to take pictures that do not look like your style.

  • See again the works of artists that do not appeal to you instantly…if proximity breeds contempt, familiarity grows on us

  • Force your Instagram feed to show other works by exploring keywords and hashtags opposite to your palette

  • Deliberately suffer the music that does not resonate

But, know that your style makes you and be happy in that.

For all my advocacy of breaking the prison of style, my favourite rendering of the Lara and Julia shoot follows. I will keep hurrying back to the confines of my style, I guess.

I hope reading this has been worth your while. Do experiment being someone else sometimes. If nothing else it may be fun….sometime it may help us see the world a bit better, even from a better perspective. Who can say?

~Cheers

Jitendra | Jiten | JC

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