Photo Essay: Catnapping wheels
Sleeping Beauty slept for a hundred years, to be woken only by her true love’s first kiss. The fairy tale finds resonance in the streets of Bengaluru, where Krishna Tummalapalli found inspiration for his photo feature titled, well, Sleeping Beauties.
It’s not about princesses though. It’s about cars—covered and parked outside their owners’ houses, some looking cosseted, others exuding a sense of neglect and abandonment, almost as if waiting to be rescued.
An amateur, Tummalapalli took to photography in 2011 after attending a workshop by German photographer Heidi Specker. This feature of eight photographs, which made it to the shortlist in the Professional Still Life category of the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards, is on display, along with the other works, at Somerset House in London, UK, till 10 May.
Tummalapalli is one of 11 Indians who were shortlisted in various categories, and the only one in the Still Life sub-category of the Professional section of the competition, which recognizes the best in contemporary photography.
Matthew Leifheit, photo editor of the US’ Vice magazine and one of the judges for the Still Life sub-category, says on email: “We rated these photos highly due to the romantic nature of their content—the cars sit, shrouded, enveloped by foliage and local architecture, as if waiting for a prince to come and reawaken them. This is a case of good titling on behalf of the photographer, as well as technical acumen. The photographs, dogmatically central in composition, become hypnotizing in context together.”
Tummalapalli started photographing the cars in January last year. “I live in the Cantonment area of Bengaluru, where I come across parked-and-covered cars every day when I step out. Once these cars caught my eye, I began to see them everywhere.”
The photographs, captured in the morning light, are largely from and around the Cantonment area, specifically Frazer Town, Benson Town, Cox Town, Cooke Town and Richards Town.
After a few shoots, Tummalapalli says he could make out that the car covers which were more “curvaceous” usually hid newer models, while the boxy ones hid older cars. Most of the car owners, he says, also own two-wheelers—they use these on a daily basis, taking out the cars only on special occasions.
The reasons for covering cars may be practical, but Tummalapalli’s images go beyond the ordinary, tapping into an almost melancholic vein. “I never asked for any car or object to be moved,” he says.
“The photos are not so much about what you see but more about how they make you feel,” says the photographer, to whom the images “serve as a metaphor for human potential and possibilities”.
To him, the cars embody the romance of everyday life.