Smack in the middle of Pride Month, which is marked through June in India, photographer Monishaa Ajgaonkar dropped a full-fledged music video. ‘Our Own Galaxy’ was posted across her personal Instagram page as well her professional page, The Photo Diary by Monishaa (she is a full-time wedding photographer).
Involving her favourite symbols and tropes — of celestial bodies, a different galaxy, a world far away from the one we live in — the video was a collaboration with stylist and costume designer Mayuri Nivekar, handpan artist, music producer Mihir Chandan, and cinematographer Shubham Soni, about two women, communicating in sign language. On the brink of doing a long distance relationship, one is assuring the other that they can manage the miles.
“I take #pride in being a part of the community and this project is merely a small step towards celebrating and supporting the same,” wrote Ajgaonkar, when she released the video. The photographer has been active in her efforts to raise awareness about the queer community, and uses her visual thinking skills to conceptualise passion-projects with LGBTQIA themes. As Ajgaonkar hopes for mainstream music channels to pick up ‘Our Own Galaxy’, she says that finding a way to monetise has never been her strong suit — she funds these projects out of her pocket, and credits also the help from equally passionate collaborators, in helping her ideas see the light of day.
In this interview with Lounge, Ajgaonkar talks about how she thinks of concepts from her videos, why her workspace is her comfort zone, and the pictures that never fail to move her.
The interview has been edited for clarity.
Describe your current workspace to us. Has it always been this way? Or has it evolved over the years?
On a personal project, my workspace is very random, sometimes if I’m sitting in a rickshaw or sitting idle then I’ll think of what I can do. There is no particular time where I sit and think of what my next project should be. For my recent project ‘Our Own Galaxy’ the idea came to me while I was working out on my cycling machine at home and I was listening to a track about the moonshine that inspired me. The idea for ‘Blossom’ (an animated video about a transperson and their family during Raksha Bandhan) also came to me when I was sitting in a rickshaw and I was reading lot of articles on Pride Month in 2020, about how people who were queer were getting killed. It made very emotional and I knew I needed to do something.
How would you define your daily relationship with your workspace?
The space is like my comfort zone — like one’s own galaxy, a place where to be free to be who one wants to be with their person, without any drama or stress, becauseessentially, one is creating one’s own universe, where no one is judging, where you can accept and love yourself.
If you were to trade in this place for another, what would it be?
I would love to be somewhere in the galaxy, away from humans because I think I would enjoy being in peace without any drama.
The one image that always moves and inspires you.
I have two dogs Cherry and Smokey. I love them so much that when I’m travelling, even for a day or two, I need to keep seeing images of them — either photos or videos. They are my inspiration and have always supported me and been there for me.
A memory of one of your earliest pictures — how did it come to be, where did you shoot it?
One of my early favourites was shot in 2014 or 2015, based on my life. It was my first LGBT shoot. The story behind it was (about) one partner, who is out of the closet, trying to make the other one, who is in the closet, feel better. It was a whole series, shot in Lonavala and again, luckily, everything was done with a very supportive and a loving team. A lot of faith in the project by everyone... And it did not take up (much of) our time. The major shots were done in 30-45 minutes. People are still inspired from this story and (it’s) still my favourite project.
Creative Corner is a series about writers, artists, musicians, founders and other creative individuals and their relationships with their workspaces