If you have visited a Music Gig in Delhi and seen a strange looking man with an enormous beard, long hair, multiple tattoos and shorts with a band t-shirt, you’ve spotted our man, Dhruv Kalra. However, if you run behind and call him by his name, it is very unlikely he will realize you are calling him. The guy has some crazy obsession with death and darkness and named himself ‘Dhruv Immortal’ on Facebook. Since then, he knows himself as Immortal and is non-responsive to Kalra. It apparently, just does not strike him as his real name.
The coolest thing about Immortal is that he’s one of the simplest guys to get along with, he’s a great person to accompany at a metal gig to head bang with. It’s literally amusing to see him jump on and off stage clicking photos full of life and passion and take tiny breaks to head bang in the crowd. Here is an interview with our Immortal Man in this current era of photography.
1. For those of us who do not know about your work, can you give a brief run-down of your photography music career?
I am a freelance Concert Photographer and have been covering gigs since 2011. It’s been almost 3 years since I have actually been the part of the Music Scene in Delhi. I cover gigs in town plus, any I get called for outside Delhi, but so far have never gone out of the country, which is still the dream! I also tour with locals bands. So far I have traveled with Colossal Figures and Guillotine, many more to come I hope!
2. How did you get started with music photography? Were you a professional photographer ever before?
I am not from a photography background; basically I never had any specific love towards photography as a child. It all started when I was on a vacation and just wanted to capture all the beautiful snow covered mountains and tall trees in the forest! After getting my first DSLR, I started attending a lot of gigs for my love of music. In my mind, I always imagined how amazing it would be capturing the emotions and the various expressions of a musician while performing.
3. Tell us the romantic story of how you got your camera and what it means to you.
It was the summer of 2011, I was vacationing on the hills of Simla. I would like to be honest and point out that I was forever a boy who always believed that the grass is greener on the other side. I wanted everything I saw other people owning. Every time I’d hang around in the malls, I saw a LOT of people with DSLR’s hung around their neck or on their shoulders while I just had a small digital camera in my pocket. When I’d see them manually zooming in and out their lens to capture things at good distances, it would just upset me because my digital camera was capable of none of these. Soon enough I picked up the courage and told my mother I wanted a DSLR, she obviously snubbed me and refused. She wasn’t wrong, at the moment, I didn’t even know what a DSLR, I just wanted one because it was the growing trend to carry a DSLR around your neck. However, the determined me never gave up, I nagged her till one fine day, just two days before my birthday Ta Da I received the money as a gift to buy my first ever DSLR. I went rushing just that instant to Vasant Kunj and bought my Nikon! Boy, was I thrilled!
4. Can you share a couple of highlights that stand out as special moments in your career?
Well being a resident of Delhi I am very happy to have been a part of The Gig Week 2013 , a 7 day music festival that happens in the capital every year since 2011. I also covered a few international bands last year namely Samsaya (Norway) , Jaga Jazzist (Norway) and Success (France). I am very happy to be touring as an official photographer with Colossal Figures, a Progressive Metalcore band from New Delhi. And my work got featured in a magazine called ‘Travel with Style’ recently which was the best thing happened to me so far in my photography career.
5. Would you say you have a particular style? What things do you always look to do when shooting a live show?
I don’t know if I should call it a style but I believe I am born to shoot concerts and upon browsing through my work, you will see my strong affinity towards monochrome. It’s safe to say, I LOVE MONOCHROME. If we talk about gigs, I look for majorly, the passion, the emotions, the happiness you see on the musicians face when the spotlight is on them. I like to capture the styles of different musicians like the way they like to stand, or hold their instruments or gear. I love to capture intense and crazy stage acts like Monica Dogra’s energy and how wild and intense she gets on stage. If we talk apart from gigs, I look out for the tiniest of details. I believe, every form of art gives a lot of importance to detailing let it be, photography , dance, painting or tattoo art.
6. Of all the photos you have taken which ones are your favorite?
That’s a tough one, I actually like quite a few! I will link them to you, I think that’s the easiest way out and I’m sure when you see them you will know why they form a part of my favorite collection.
7. There was a time when rock and pop was the most well received type of music and photography was taking off at the same time. This is taking about the era of Mick Jagger’s prime, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, basically the whole glam rock period. Icons were born and photography was a big contributor to that. You think that still exists today, especially in India?
No that does not exist anymore and I’ll tell you why. Back in the 60’s people used to have concerts and they wanted other people to know that something has happened and by clicking pictures people could cherish those moments in the years later. And photographers back then used to click out of passion and love for the music. Nowadays, you cannot call it clicking for memories, because everybody owns a smart phone. People click their pictures with their phones so why would you need a photographer, especially to cover your gig? Also, everybody goes and purchases a DSLR today. Why? Simply because that’s the “Trend” now. People cover gigs but the first question they ask is; “How much would you pay me”? Back in the day it was not about money, it was about music! You go to a small gig or a big concert you would have 20 people next to you with a DSLR in their hand and apparently everybody is a photographer. But it was not the same earlier. It can never be the same as long as it’s about the photographer and his/her work rather than what it should be which is, ‘Photography’ and ‘Music.’ Many photographers at the time never clicked for anyone but themselves, it’s only later a band approached them to purchase a photo or were put up on auctions.
8. Some of the photographers in the 60’s-70’s became as popular as the artists, do you think that is true till date? Why do you think it is that way?
Not as famous as the musicians but yes the people who have been in the scene since a few years have become famous because of their good work and dedication towards Music. I myself am one of the photographers whom I can say people know. They know who I am and what I do. I mean, when people come up to me and say that have seen my work and think it’s great! It really does feel great to be known and appreciated!
9. Which Indian and International photographers do you admire?
This would sound insane but I don’t follow anybody. I have seen a couple of Raghu Rai’s pictures and I liked them! Till I become a good photographer and make my work worth following , I am not following anybody! I want to establish my own style and not get influenced looking at others.
10. What do you think makes a classic live photo?
If we talk technically light is one of the most important aspects of a photograph and when we talk about concerts, good lights are a must. Actually the photographer makes a good picture but with the help of a good stage, beautiful lighting and but obvious brilliant performers doing what they are best at doing! One expression of the person on stage just changes the whole look and feel of the photo. As the music goes on, you get a lot of different options and chances to perfect a classic picture ! Even though sometimes it gets difficult in Concert Photography because the musicians are moving and it becomes quite difficult to focus.
11. Do you think photography has changed since the 60s when music photography actually came to a rise? How and why do you think that happened?
As I said earlier, music photography in the 60’s was purely about music enthusiasts. Things were a lot more about the scene rather than showing off big cameras and expensive lenses like people in today’s era do !
12. What are you up to these days?
I am freelancing with a couple of bands and working with a blog namely 8eight8 Music, which promotes the underground music scene in the country. I recently became a part of ‘Delhi Underground Legion’, an organization/group that is working their best to promote the local underground Metal scene in the city! I am also writing a little these days and planning to make a small documentary. Let’s see what doors open up for me in the future, I hope for the best!
That’s all for this time, make sure you manage to catch up Immortal’s work on Facebook under the Page called Captured. Remember, if you are looking for Dhruv Kalra, you need to type in ‘Dhruv Immortal’. Catch his work on Instagram under the handle @drooooov666immortal and on Twitter under the handle @Beard_Metal_Ink.
– Wild Child