At one level, I use the term to loosely describe those who’ve attended my Art of Seeing Photography Workshop and then walked the path they’re set upon to its logical conclusion. I must admit that I can only point the way; the actual walking each attendee must do for themselves. Milind Pandit – our Featured Seer – has not only walked the path to the door of understanding but through it.
At another level – and this is more in sync with the dictionary definition – if you really think about it, the future is a set of possibilities. What really hence sets a Seer apart from the crowd is his or her knack to identify a range of possible outcomes, and then choose the most probable one. It is this knack that makes such an individual a Visionary – the ability to see beyond the mundane, the ordinary, the what is… to what can be.
How, indeed? The answer is simple: the ability to go beyond what is, to what it can be.
It is in that context that Milind Pandit is a Seer.Aham Brahmanasmi. I broke into a smile when I saw those words nestled a few paragraphs down into the write-up I’d requested Milind to send over. And while – as a rule – I never discuss matters of a philosophical nature on a public forum, I’m going to make an exception here, if only to establish establish context, as well as highlight the deep connection between philosophy and art as I see it.
Aham Bhramanasmi is an assertion from Indic philosophy that essentially translates as “I am That”. “That” being the pure, unadulterated, infinite consciousness that permeates me, you, this, that… verily, the entire universe itself.
How is the “I am That” assertion established? By a process of elimination referred to in Indic philosophy as “Neti”. Literally translated as “not-this!”, the systematic analytical process of Neti enables the seeker to eliminate “what is not”. When all what-is-not is analytically eliminated, what remains is what-is: pure, unadulterated consciousness unbound by the fetters of “me”, “you”, “this”, “that”… we discover that the same consciousness permeates everything in the universe, that the “i” is not the real “I”. I am That! Aham Brahmanasmi!
OK, but what the hell does this have to do with photography, did I hear you ask? A hell of a lot. And it’s got nothing to do with the camera!
“When all what-is-not is eliminated, what we’re left is is what-is, and much to our surprise, we discover that the same what-is permeates everything!”
If composition (original, not the mere copying of the compositions of others) is defined as “deciding what to include in, and what to exclude from the frame” is that not a process of arriving at what-is [the image] by elimination of what-is-not? If that does not have shades of Neti, I don’t know what does….
If the assertion that “It is I” – The Seer – that consciousness that perceives… that it is THAT that makes the image, not the camera…. if that assertion does not have shades of Neti and Aham Bhramanasmi to it, I don’t know what does….
If I, in insisting that the key to making good images is to literally become one with the subject…not three as in “I”, “gear”, and “subject”, but just ONE UNDIVIDED WHOLE… if that does not have shades of Aham Bhamanasmi to it, I don’t know what does….
I’ll be frank – this thing called photography is not for the weak of heart who would rather be content to remain fixated on the limitations of their camera, discussing numbers, and turning knobs and dials. Photography must shake you, rock you to your core, change your outlook, and set you free. It is only then that you discover what true photography is – The Song of the Seer, The Song of the Ever-Free.
May The Song comprising of the words and images of the Seer that is Milind Pandit below set you free!
A variety of books, pens, and a camera – they were constant companions during my growing years. Of these, it was only later that I realized that the books and camera were actually a privilege. It was only natural then that the pen and the camera became a medium for self-expression. They were the Yin and the Yang in my life, but very often off-balance. In the initial years, the pen was dominant, but the camera was never too far. And while I don’t remember the exact age when the camera took center-stage, it was quite early, though. And when that happened, while the pen did take a backseat, it never went into complete oblivion.
Even today, the pen makes a comeback from time to time. Most of the time, it serves to complement the camera.
The initial years with the camera were mostly family trips or random functions. Nature, however, tugged at my heartstrings. Landscapes were a favorite; later, wildlife with an emphasis on the “small” (macro). Starting young does have an advantage, but it also brings with it the baggage of ideas and preconceptions reinforced during one’s most impressionable years.2011 saw me making the transition from film to digital. This was the period that saw a veritable glut of photographs being posted on the internet courtesy social media. A thousand images a day can strain the senses. Much like swarms of people occupying a city; sometimes vertically like the dizzy heights of high rises and sometimes horizontally like a sea of slums. And while these were exciting times, they saw me getting increasingly creatively restless. I was aware of a friction within me.
While on the one hand, I was pleased with the fact that my images were technically sound and aesthetically pleasing, on the other I was painfully aware that they were clones or variants of the compositions of others. They lacked originality. They lacked Depth.
They lacked Me.There are many factors that changed my perspective to image making, but undoubtedly one of the turning points was the Art of Seeing Workshop session with Neville. It not only gave me a new vision but also set me free from the inhibitions and false limitations I’d imposed upon myself. In fact, from that very day as I was set free, that friction in me made way for an outpouring of ideas and visions long suppressed or forgotten. I still remember an image from Neville’s workshop: one where he’s deliberately literally chopped off a hand of one of the subjects, and yet I was not left feeling that anything was missing. Something in me definitely shattered – for the good – after that.
“Art for me is a spiritual act.
An act that time and again reassures me with a single thought: Aham Bhramanasmi”
My photographs are always a reflection of my feelings . Either those invoked in me, or at times reflections and distortions I’ve carried or created within myself while moving around with my camera. The shapes, textures, and sounds of natural elements inspire me, as do my mind, body, and soul. My images are my way of celebrating the coming together of the relationship between these elements and the subject in a fashion that not only pleases the eye but also makes one reach inwards to the inner self. Photography for me is a mere expression of my feelings; I am a painter at heart who uses the camera as his canvas, the accessories as his brushes, and light as my color. Here are a few of my images; each has a story to it. I’d love to have your feedback and of course I’d be happy to answer your questions, if any.
– Milind Pandit
The set of eyes that I have as a photographer are a mix of three. The first helps me look upwards for inspiration. The second helps me see elements as we perceive them from the outside. The third eye is turned within – it helps me perceive elements inside out.
“There are worlds of experience beyond the world of the aggressive man, beyond history, and beyond science. The moods and qualities of nature and the revelations of great art are equally difficult to define; we can grasp them only in the depths of our perceptive spirit.” ~ Ansel Adams
Passion & Submission
The play between passion and submission is a very interesting one. And if not brutal, there’s invariably a poetry of sorts between them. This, is such an image. Passion – fiery red – meets the calm blue that is submission, making for an interesting mix. Little does passion know that submission in itself cannot come to pass without passion. It is like the submissive Nandi seated at the entrance of Shiva’s shrine; he is so passionately submissive that he is worshiped before Shiva Himself
It was approximately fifteen thousand years ago that the Adi Yogi received his enlightenment. In the process, he perceived everything that was possible to be perceived across all the galaxies. The Adi Yogi is called Shiva. The term Shiva literally means “not-a-thing” – the one that is formless. Here, I have tried to portray that moment of enlightenment with the Blue representing the formless Shiva, and the purple-orange glow being “Divine Light”.
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” ~ Ansel Adams
For all of the above images, there are multiple layers of meaning and connotations to the elements; far too many to list out in a blog post. There is a story to the images that follow below too. I am sure that if one looks at them with an open mind, they’re just waiting to be seen. It’s for the viewer to perceive in their own unique. I sincerely hope you will like viewing them as much as I did making them.
In ending, a word of gratitude to Neville as as I write this a strange nostalgic feeling of “Back to School” tugs at me.I do not just acknowledge his contribution in my work, but am indebted for this wonderful opportunity to share his space and speak to all of you! Many Thanks, Chief! They do not make them like you anymore! In fact, I’m convinced they made just one of your kind!
Cheers and all the best to this space!
Passionate to a fault - both about India & photography - Stops Of Light conducts the most unique, insightful and inspiring photography workshops in Mumbai, as well as photography tours, workshops & expeditions in India. Our India Photography Tours include small-group photography tours to Varanasi, Rajasthan, Agra, The Pushkar Camel Fair and Ladakh.