After being deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, Gagan Dhiman became interested in the craft and in Leica. Staying focused and coping with the stressful situations of being deployed, Dhiman learned as much as he could from Leica and photography. Although he is a full time photographer with the US Army, he does street photography and wedding photography with a photojournalistic approach. Here’s his experience with Leica and photography.
Your photographs use a lot of shadows and contrasts between the composition of subjects and their environment, is this a particular style you developed over time? Or something you want to focus more on?
I think I always wanted to photograph with more shadow and contrast. But I could never really make an image the way I would see it in my head. I can honestly say that photographing with Leica, it helped me make the images the way I really want to show. I don’t know know if I want to focus on it or not, it’s just the way I like to photograph.
You mention you became interested on photography after you deployed to Afghanistan. Can you share a bit more about this process?
Deployment has a lot of factors that are stressful. Like a bunch of guys that want you dead (hahahaha). You’re away from family and friends, you’re always working and you’re in a constant stress. During my deployment photography helped me cope with my anxiety and helped me stay more focused. When I returned, photography just became second nature for me. Photography helped me adjust back to the life back home. So much that I got my first tattoo that represents photography.
After getting to know more about Leica, one would assume that by being immersed in the Army, you would focus more on combat photography and photojournalism. Why did you go into street and wedding photography?
I take photojournalism approach when I photograph weddings. Because of Leica it makes it very easy to take that approach. Same goes for street photography. Because of Leica design street photography can be easy. Especially when I use the EVF because I am not looking at subject directly with the camera. I have noticed that people are more comfortable with meme taking a photograph of them, when I am looking down at the camera (even though the camera is facing them) rather then having my camera up.
Can you draw any comparisons between the photography you do in the US Army and that of weddings? Are the differences only in concepts or also in aesthetics?
Personally I think the differences are only in the concepts.
You used the Leica M (Typ 240) in this selection of images. Can you please share your thoughts and perspective on the use of this Leica equipment? Do you use other equipment as well?
I think the Leica equipment really helps me make the images in my head to life. The images I create with Leica are hands down my best.
In your street photography, do you often prefer to shoot in Black and White? Or are they aesthetic decisions in the processing stage?
I prefer black and whites. But there are just some images that look much better in color. My preference though is always black and white.
Thank you Gagan!