“Let me start with this: I can’t wait to wake up in the morning. I just can’t. I have a fitoor—an Arabic word that means madness or craziness toward something or someone. And it’s so intense that sometimes I have no control over myself. Consciously or unconsciously, it amazes me.”
Having left behind a career in fashion, London-based creative Dimpy Bhalotia spends her days passionately pursuing black-and-white street photography. The Bombay-born artist had settled in London to study fashion and made her way for several years in that highly creative, highly competitive industry. “And then overnight I decided to wrap up my brand and travel,” says Bhalotia. Reflecting on stepping away from one path to explore another, she emphasizes the value in knowing when to turn back and start again.
Since that decisive moment, she has been traveling the world, focusing her camera lens on spontaneous scenes. Many of Bhalotia’s images are set outdoors and capture children in motion and birds in flight. A natural predilection for unpredictable, dramatic movement lends visual and emotional excitement to her street photography.
Bhalotia seeks to share hope with her images. The intentionality of being present in the moment is a core component of street photography that resonates strongly for her. She strives to make that state of mind contagious for her viewers, encouraging people to step back from technology to appreciate their lived experience. “Art is the best medicine to cure human problems. And I am trying my best through my photos,” she says. “Given how the world is going in a very stressful direction, I wish for my photos to give hope and inspire people to not give up.”
In striving to share her message broadly, Bhalotia celebrates regular people and experiences rather than rarefied, “exotic” moments. She gives majestic proportion to her subjects by shooting from low vantage points and at close range. Beachgoers suiting up in street clothes and flocks of startled birds take on epic proportions as Bhalotia angles her lens upward, allowing the figures to fill the frame. “I really get into the moment so much that I feel I am that boy running or the birds flying,” she says.
Although she traverses streets across the globe capturing images, the black-and-white color palette unifies her portfolio and brings together people from different walks of life. She also often backlights her subjects, giving a sense of anonymity and therefore universality to the figures in her photos.
The photographer feels that black-and-white photography chose her. “It’s the most decluttered way of capturing moments for me. I really get dissolved in it. I see in black and white. I just can’t see color. It’s a mystery for myself that I am trying to discover. I think with time I will find the ‘why’ and hopefully I will have an answer,” explains Bhalotia. “Sometimes the shades of black get so much to me that I take little breaks from the streets. It helps to rest the tones in my eyes. And when I hit the streets it’s a new world to me again.”
The spontaneity imbued in Bhalotia’s photographs is representative of her approach to shooting. She uses only her iPhone, declining to get wrapped up in the game of buying and fiddling with fancy gear. “I don’t think the camera makes any difference in street photography,” she says. “For me, photography is 99 percent how you look at things and one percent when you press the button.”
Having spent years honing her perspective and her muscle memory, she has come to a point where she doesn’t stop and think before shooting. The fleeting moment of capturing an image isn’t even a conscious memory for Bhalotia. “I think once you train your eye in a way, given any situation you know how to react in a fraction of a second. I just know what to see and what to unsee.”
Looking forward, Bhalotia’s only certain plan is to keep shooting. “I think there is no smokescreen in street photography. It's the utmost truth of what is happening around us that gets captured…. I think street photography is the best thing that has happened to me so far.”