Archana Kumar wants to establish a fair value exchange between the photographer and the photographed

Seema Staff

Archana Kumar wears many hats. On one hand she is a creative, brand and communications strategist at a New York city based advertisement company, on another, she’s a photographer whose works have adorned many esteemed galleries and publications in the city and beyond.

Born in Mumbai, Archana has lived in several cities – Dubai, Cairo, New York – to name a few. Weaving inspiration from across spatial constructs, Kumar says her photographs live on the figurative and literal threshold “of the inside and outside.”

“I like to focus on a space that is uncomfortable and infused with ambiguity, doubt, discomfort – it is transitional,” says the photographer. Some of the works have encapsulated this transitional space through exploring the intersection between man and woman, children and grown-ups, and between happiness and sadness, for instance. “This is the background of my photographic vision,” says Kumar.

She started as a film photographer, but swiftly transitioned to digital. “When you work in digital, it’s easy to take many pictures and harder to discipline yourself,” says Kumar. “So, I’ve had to teach myself to be able to be more patient.” Kumar says her serious photography only happened after transitioning to digital.

Within the realm of photography and what can be done with it, Kumar is opening new doors. Apart from focusing on her photography and her art, she has also, in the past six years, produced photography workshops in India, collaborating with a famous street photographer from New York City. “However, during that time I realized I had some feeling of discomfort,” says Kumar, “because we were getting so much out of those interactions with people on the streets.”

Kumar felt that she needed to give something back, to reciprocate, that there had to be “a fair value exchange between the photographers and the photographed.” In 2018, Kumar launched Photos for Humanity, “my initiative where 15% of the fees will go to help girls from the community we photographed.” She had one such session last October and is gearing up for another this year.

“I didn’t start photography to become famous, I want it to actually be useful. While I continue to develop my own work, I want to scale this little initiative I started,” she says.

Kumar’s images have been displayed in many juried exhibitions- including at the Umbrella Art Gallery and the Salmagundi Art Club in New York City. Recently, Chromatic Photography Awards recognized one of her images.

Kumar’s photographs were on display at our  ‘Sing For Seema’ event, held at the historic Greenwich House Music School in New York on July 13.  “I brought the pieces that have been displayed in big shows, to the SEEMA event. All of them revolve around the threshold, in-between spaces, in that I leave a lot of space for viewers to complete their story,” says Kumar. In addition to the printed pieces, Kumar showcased her collection of images mostly set in Chandela, a small town 40 km from Jaipur, Rajasthan. “I’m supporting 40 girls in that village and I hope that number will increase,” says Kumar.