I recently found the extraordinary dance photography of Delhi photographer Innee Singh and decided to write this photo feature on them to pay homage.
When it came time to illustrate the piece, though, it was so difficult to select a mere handful from the wide selection of brilliant shots available on Innee’s Facebook and Instagram pages. They are all outstanding.
Innee, the proprietor of a musical instrument store, began photographing classical dancers about fifteen years ago as a result of his fondness for classical music.
Innee is a keen concert goer (“I attend most of the concerts going”) who says the powerful sensory experience of the music and “amazing visuals” provided by the dancers moved him to start snapping away.
“There have been instances where I have felt the beauty of the whole experience quite overwhelming,” he said.
“When you see the dancer immersed in the whole idea of the concept, with the hard work behind it … and sometimes the depth of abhinaya (pure expression) … I always like to photograph that more than any other aspect,” said Innee.
For the viewer, Innee’s striking photographs are skilful and fabulously composed. But amazingly Innee is not a fan of his own work.
“I don’t like my pictures. I’m not saying this to sound modest; it’s a fact. I still don’t know what it is about my pictures that people like,” he said.
Despite this, it is unlikely he will ever stop taking pictures. A prodigious creator, Innee has over 20 external hard drives ranging from 500GB to 4TB full of photographs.
While he may not see the wonderful skill of his own work, he senses the strong emotional meaning of the photographs, which he says are his gift to the artists – whose own gift passes away in time, in form at least, if not in memory – at the end of every performance.
“All I do is try to be on the stage with the artist while they perform, and capture moments that can last, like their music and their dance.”
Like many genius creators, Innee does not study the work of other photographers, and he’s very clear that this is to avoid being influenced by other styles and voices. However, there is one exception to this rule: the work of feted Indian classical dance photographer Avinash Pasricha, who is also a friend. (See a photo feature of his work here.)
Innee’s all time favourite photograph is Pasricha’s award winning 1980s shot entitled “Made For Each Other”.
“It’s a multiple exposure shot … a combination of two pictures shot simultaneously and merged on a film camera. Pre-digital photography, the photographer could not cheat – he did not have the option to see what he had shot, unlike the digital work that is done now, where thinking has taken a back seat and all is left to post processing.
“A few have tried to copy the idea of this photo but have failed miserably,” said Innee.
Reader: can you see why the above image may have been entitled “Made for each other”?
It is a soft polite voice that comes through in the email from Innee containing his answers to my questions for this article. The modest manner, however, is like the quiet surface of a deep and powerful ocean.
For, Innee is not only a business man and a professional photographer, he is also a musician who plays the tabla and the sarod.
Training Innee in the sarod is none other than sarod maestro and Indian musical legend Ustad Amjad Ali Khan who bestowed on Inee the high honour of formally initiating Inee into his parampara (musical lineage).
You can find Innee on Instagram, Facebook and at his website: https://www.inneesingh.com/