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After The ending

Ravinder Surah

Abstraction is deception, it lures us in translating our own visual senses into something which perhaps is untrue or none existent, it plays with our perceptions and can trigger tranquillity, calmness, fear or any other amalgamation of feelings.

After The Ending was created by dropping black and red inks into a container full of water, the container was mounted with speakers that are projecting sound from the 2005 Sky News - London bombings news coverage, these sounds were sampled from YouTube. Once the sounds are played the inks are dropped into the water creating unique patterns, these patterns are the indexical trace of sound which imitate the waveforms played from the speakers, the force of the inks dropped from a distance into the water enables a spread of colour which protrudes through the waves, distorting the waveforms natural rhythms with its own organic presence.

This work represents the tension of atrocity using colour to emulate blood which projects the notions of life and death, in contrast darker colours signify the unknown and ending. The first image titled ‘Birth’ is shot in still water with no soundwaves representing calmness, the second image titled ‘London Bombings’ is shot with soundwaves projected through water, a symbol of chaos, distress and atrocity.

Using abstraction and beauty I ask the viewer to study the surface of the images, to feel perplexed by them and question the relationships between them. Ultimately it is the process of the calm and manic that prevails, something which is only stressed via the waveform.



Ravinder Surah

Interconnected telecommunication devices have evolved overtime, since the 90’s there has been a colossal increase in terms of devices which share imagery, that transport imagery and further more cultivate this imagery to be seen in different lights and altered forms of representation. New media such as mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, primarily anything that connects to the internet or enables this flux in media bombardment is a constant contributor to how our modern day society is increasingly becoming desensitised by a new class of imagery, it’s this overwhelming constant nature of access to abundant imagery which causes this problem, this desensitisation.

My work ‘HEX’ birthed from studying the work of Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin and their well-known piece ‘The Day Nobody Died, a piece of work illustrating the ideologies of abstraction but more importantly points towards the idea of media control within the jurisdiction of Afghanistan. I started to focus on expressing the idea that abstraction not only can work as a form of evidence but it can in fact work as a form of journalistic and documentary evidence. Within my work HEX I have appropriated imagery from multiple images searches which were executed using image scanning software, however Googles API (application program interface) web coding only allows software to grab 64 images per image based search; I used the following search terms to obtain the imagery: 911, Afghanistan conflict, ISIS and London bombings. Once each search was conducted images were abstracted using software which conducts a breakdown in the images to obtain the average colours, once the images were colour converted they were panelled into squares of 64 images.

Deception is important within this work, the viewer may have a feeling of calmness due to the array of colour patterns protruding from the images surface, and a colour may strike a personal or none personal memory of tranquillity or stillness or perhaps one may see the work as being a pleasing assortment of similar colors. However when one watches the fast paced video tied to this work and sees the very images these colours were taken from a bipolar flux may occur within the viewer, as philosopher Julia Kristeva states ‘‘Sorrow is the fundamental mood characterizing depression and even if manic euphoria alternates with it in the bipolar forms of this state grief is the principal manifestation betraying the sufferer[1].’  I believe this quote to embrace the philosophies within my work, seeing one thing to be beautiful or calming can quickly turn into a negative and unsettling experience. I use deception within my work to express my point, not just that abstraction can be used as documentary evidence but also that abstraction can be used as a vessel in order to express a point of how new media has caused this flux of desensitization, to resensitize the viewer by the modalities of abstraction within this work is merely creating a statement on how the bombardment of imagery has only caused us to feel less.


[1] Kristeva, Julia. (1992) Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia. Columbia University Press


A selection of Landscape Images, beautiful and serene.


India - A Segregated Society

Ravinder Surah

This book looks at the Indian Caste System, a system which was created by King Manu dividing the people of India into a hierarchy based on occupational enteritis, from the priests at the very top to the untouchables at the very bottom.

In this book I highlight twenty one images focusing on twenty individuals from different caste backgrounds, some poverty stricken, some who are graven in the middle of society and some who are seen as being wealthy and powerful. My intention is to display these portraits in a way which asks the reader not to view these people as a hierarchy but to view them as individuals. I do this by segregating pages in-between my images to allow ones personality to speak through the page.

However I also play with the notion of the caste system by pointing out its obvious troubles such as how the ‘Untouchables’ and how the poverty is seen, this is done by unifying three images in the centre section of the book. This catches the reader off-guard, distorting the rhythm of the reading but also unifying the untouchables within the system. I believe this expresses the point, though we may see these people as individuals India’s caste system and the people of India still sees and isolates them into castes.


Living Things - Blue

Ravinder Surah

Transcript from Living Things (series one):

There is a profound link between beauty and fear, we sometimes fear what we love and love what we fear. This series expresses a love for the woodlands something I fear in its darkness but embrace and love within its golden light glory when kissed by the sun.  I explored the woodlands and used my camera with it to capture the erratic movement felt within myself when exploring the woodlands close to dusk. There is a sense of ambiguity within the images as there is a level of uncertainty as to what you are looking at and like a Rorschach ink blot test things seem to merge as imagery seems to jump out at you from the photographs surface. This series is finished but its concept is still something I am working on perfecting for a series further pursuing the notion of love and fear.

In this new series I show a different side to this narrative using the colour blue to express a tension which embraces the undertones of the unknown. This represents my confidence in a place where confidence is diminished by night. This dark shade of blue which contrasts with some of the lighter shades symbolises the power of nature in a place which embraces ambiguity, this uncertainty unveils itself when one strains to see in the shadows


A Stand Still

Ravinder Surah.

Mood is embedded within all of us. Our struggles hide in the recesses of our minds, we perhaps do not think consciously about them but think subconsciously when questioning them. Sometimes we cannot comprehend these thoughts of loss, dismay and other feelings alike nor can we accept them.

This work focuses on the staged; emphasizing expression of ones thoughts, stranded within the contours of time, yet giving stillness and significance to the underlying emotions embedded within the image by the means of carefully placed objects to uphold narrative.

Along with this staged narrative highlighted in this black and white image series, I have focused in on the ‘real’. I invite the viewer to look at a past event in the staged image which my father struggled through when losing his wife. I then offer reality via the moving image in the video (Shot in synchronization with the photo shoot). This video shows colour, something we see day to day which strengthens the aspects of reality and motion, which evidently can’t accurately be represented within any photographic image.

My father stays still akin to a statue when photographed, entwining those qualities of the photograph within the moving image but also playing on the crippling nature emotion has on the body and mind in terms of stillness.  It is important with this stillness and lack of movement to catch the viewer off guard with the slight movements within this video, from the blink of an eye to the slight move of the lips, head and fingers intended to show that the reflection is not merely a staged one but a very real one with impact to my father’s emotions, something we perhaps take for granted when looking at any image.

Within this small series of images I ask the viewer to empathize with the subject. I ask them to share a still moment to engage with emotion and its public uncomfortability, to share the awkwardness but ultimately he asks them to remember and forget.



Gemma Land.

Taken from the series 'The Spaces Between the Places', during my last period of time living in London I started to live in unoccupied buildings as a property guardian. This building in particular had a colourful history of occupants. The building was now in limbo awaiting a new owner and to be redeveloped, in this timeframe I sought to document the building, in a fractured way focusing upon the traces of the previous occupants.

There is a certain level of mystery evoked with the images, denying the viewer to view the whole of the building and thus denouncing the notion of 'ruin porn'. To live in the building felt like a place where stories echoed from the walls.

The images become like puzzle pieces that can't quite be put back together, they become abstract moments in their own right.