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February 06, 2020

The Kissing Photographer

Dimpy Bhalotia likes to get up close and personal. In fact, she gets so close to her subjects, that a man once asked her if she was going to kiss him with her phone. In another incident, she got so close to a baby cow that mother cow tried to “kiss” Dimpy off her calf. Bhalotia makes it a point to be present, make herself invisible while standing right at the center of the action, and follow the energy and movement of her subjects. This fashion student turned full-time mobile photographer has a lot of guts and a lot of stories to tell. 

How long have you been shooting? 

I’ve been doing street photography for 3 years. Otherwise have been shooting randomly on my phone since college days. 


Do you have a day job - or is photography what you do full time?

I am a full time traveling fine art street photographer. 

Do you remember the first time you realized how much you can get from your mobile photography? 

When I was studying fashion in London, I used to visit Kew gardens a lot and shoot flowers and trees with my Nokia phone. Of course, the quality wasn't great - but that's what I liked about it, and I was very fascinated by such a compact phone plus camera in my pocket. Also, I would shoot a lot of my fashion shoots on my phone. After I graduated I started traveling a lot and would shoot on my iPhone 5. That's when I took it seriously and realised it had much more potential then what I had imagined during my college days. 


What phone do you use?

I started with iPhone 5 and then 6, 10 and now I am using iPhone 11 Pro. 


Who did you learn the most from about photography? 

I am a self-taught photographer. Nobody taught me anything. I don’t think you can learn photography from someone. It’s something that you have to go out and explore yourself and find your style. That’s real learning. 


Who are your favorite mobile photographers out there today? 

@So.asa is an amazing photographer. Her whole portfolio is based on riots of colours with a drop of a characteristic silhouette. I think to stick to that one style with so much variation in it is remarkable. 

@Joseluisbarcia has a very distinctive style. He has a very minimalistic approach to street photography, which I really like. 


What was your most awkward moment taking a picture?

Many many moments but this one incident that happened in Pushkar in India. I was taking a shot of a baby cow and after a few minutes, someone started tapping my bag from the back. I thought some priest was stopping me from taking photos because usually, they do. So, without moving an inch, I kept taking photos and kept saying “please wait, I have to take this shot”. But the tapping didn’t stop. So I turned in irritation while saying “what is your problem” and I see the mother cow was hitting me with her horns. I was so frightened to see her so close to me that I fell off the steps and landed on the platform. There were a bunch of boys sunbathing around and they just couldn’t stop laughing. They also filmed the whole thing on their phone. I asked them to WhatsApp me the video, which they never did. 


If you had to shoot one more thing, and then never shoot again - what would you shoot? 

Oh, that can never happen. Photography is something that makes me happy. It gives me energy and helps me breathe. Shooting something and to never shoot that again is something not possible for me. 


What, in your opinion, is the most important thing for a mobile photographer to keep in mind?

Always back up all the photos on a hard drive. No matter how good mobile has gotten it’s still too risky. Don’t take it for granted. Phones do crash. 


What is the craziest thing you ever had to do to get a shot?

Nothing in particular that I can think of. I think for me going up close to any human or animal to get a shot is crazy enough. Once I remember I was taking a shot of a man sitting on a bench in Madrid, my phone so close to his face that he turned and said are you going to kiss me with your phone now? 


If you had to describe your personal photography in one word - what would that word be? 



How do you see the future of mobile photography? 

High potential! I wouldn't be surprised if we hear in the future that mobile is being used to shoot on Mars or the Moon. 


What makes a picture viral? 

I think visual placement in a frame is very important. Depending on the given frame, understanding of spacing and placement of characters in the frame makes a huge difference. And when everything falls in place, a larger audience understands and relates to it well. 


Please share with us your most shared image. What do you think made it popular? 

It’s the Flying Boys shot in Varanasi, India. I think again it’s the placement of these boys jumping off a man-made cliff and the perfect spacing between the arms and legs makes it visually appealing and gives a sense of energy. Also, it’s something anyone can relate to it. It’s a happy energetic photograph. 

Follow Dimpy Bhalotia on Instagram