2006, Self-Portrait on a FujiFilm Analog camera. Barefoot Resort, Havelock, Andaman Islands.
To me, it is incredible to see how far I’ve come since I shot this photograph.
Bombay to Bangalore by plane / bus ( I don’t recall ). Bangalore to Pondicherry by road. Back to Bangalore by road. Bangalore to Havelock ( combination of flight and boat and road ). With two friends. Those pants I’m wearing? I bought them in Bangalore and I still wear them in 2020. The slippers? Bata rip-offs of Birkenstock. I was into the ganjis like the black one I’m wearing. I still have them in a multitude of colors.
The scars on my legs are from some weird bacterial / fungal infection that caused pus-filled cysts from my ankles upto my groin. And they were motherfucking painful. They appeared out of the blue, gradually disappeared over the course of a few years.
A day after this image, I crashed my motorcyle into the side of a road while riding it on Havelock. I vividly recall my panicked long-winded laughter after my friend picked me out of the dirt ditch. I had torn my shirt but I was fine otherwise. The bike’s clutch broke. It was a Yamaha RX-100. We had red snapper for dinner that night.
I think my ex-husband and I had filed for divorce but it had not been finalized at the time of this image. We both found it absurd that the judge recommended mandatory “counselling” before filing. I told him that counselling should be mandatory before marriage not when it had been mutually decided by the couple that the marriage wasn’t working anymore.
I quit smoking in 2013. I had started smoking sometime during 2003/2004. In retrospect, I was smoking because it seemed like the only thing I had any control over in my life. Yes smoking is injurious to your health and I do not recommend it. But, as long as you keep me out of range from your passive cigarette smoke, I’m not judging you for the choices you make about your own health & life.? The hair seem to be getting slightly longer.
2006, Self Portrait in a mirror. This was at the photography studio at the place I was now working at. I forget what the concept behind the shoot was.
After quitting my campus placement MBA job in 2004, I freelanced for a bit as a graphic & web designer and was eventually hired at a printing press in Bombay to setup and run their Graphic Design Studio. I hired the team except one original employee. Whenever there was a break in work, I would gander over to the photo studio. If I was lucky, I’d get a slice of pizza. On slower days, we could even fuck around experimenting with self portraits and concept shoots.
This is the place where I first saw lights being used in a studio setting. I saw how shoots actually happened. How the talent was hired. How much photoshop actually goes into making the cover of a magazine – I met one of the girls who was definitely wizard level – it was an out of body experience watching her work. How stars were allowed to throw tantrums to a certain extent. These were big shoots for national level magazines and their cover stars.
I believe during this time is when I shaved my head for the very first time. I don’t have any photographs from then unfortunately. I remember the head of the photography studio walking by my desk in the graphic design department and asking me if she could run her hands on my skull stubble 😛 “Since the client is giving us lakhs of printing business, let’s do their graphic design for free.” used to be followed by “Why isn’t the graphic design studio making any money?” After six months of this nonsense, I quit. My salary was tied to a certain percentage of the profit made by the design studio and I never ended up getting nay of that because there was no profit. And they refused to raise my salary. shrug
I stayed in touch with the photo studio team for many years. I even moved in with one of them when I needed a place to stay after the divorce. I didn’t want to leave Bombay because of the divorce. I wanted to leave it on my own terms. Oh how that came back to bite me in the ass eventually!
This series started because I dug up my archives for older portraits for the “Naina Redhu’s Mane Issues : Before And During The Lockdown” for TheVoiceOfFashion.com and then I decided that I would like to dig a bit deeper and go through the images and my story from each year starting with 2005 – because photographs prior to that will need to be scanned. I might get around to scanning eventually. I turn 40 years old in 2020.