Artist Spotlight: Abhishek Khedekar

In conversation with the photographer behind our new drop Khanij

Few photographers manage to bridge disparate worlds adroitly, without losing what makes them unique. Abhishek Khedekar a.k.a @tendercoconut is one. He's as comfortable as a documentarian as he is in fashion, shooting models, actors, landscapes or people plucked off his hometown of Dapoli - a picturesque town in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. The idea is to capture poetics in a frame - all with the same attention to form, dynamism, and beauty.

Here, he speaks with November Noon to discuss the many inspiration behind his practice and our latest campaign, Khanij. 

Abhishek Khedekar, photographed by Upasana
An archive photo of Abhishek with his parents
Untitled, from the series, Dapoli

How would you describe what you do?

I am a lens-based artist who focuses on working with photographs. My artistic approach involves using various visual mediums. Additionally, I view image making as a form of storytelling, so the narrative of any work is usually my focus.

What is your first memory of a photograph?

I don't remember the exact age, but I must have been around 5 years old when I went to the bazaar with my parents in my hometown of Dapoli. During our visit, we stopped by a small studio owned by my father's friend eventually, my uncle, who was a photographer, asked us to gather in front of a colourful background and clicked a family portrait. Standing close to my parents, I watched my uncle attentively as he set up his camera. This experience might be my earliest recollection related to photography or the act of taking a photograph. Unfortunately, the specific picture taken on that day has deteriorated over time. However, I managed to scan the image, preserving the memory and allowing me to reflect on that special moment from my childhood.

What are you finding yourself drawn to these days?

These days, I am deeply involved in my personal project called "Dapoli." It revolves around researching the history of Dapoli and learning about the past. One aspect that has caught my attention is an old port where British traders conducted business long ago. Exploring the stories connected to this port and understanding its importance in history is fascinating.

Another thing that has intrigued me is an old grave located within my school. It belongs to a missionary who helped build it. I find it really interesting to learn about the history behind this grave and the person buried there and everything else surrounding it Dapoli’s past and present.

Untitled, from the series, Dapoli
Untitled, from the series, Dapoli

How does a sense of place influence your practice, if at all?

I'm fascinated by places. I prefer working in real locations instead of studios. When I'm working on a project, the choice of a particular editorial or fashion location becomes important because it affects the lighting, weather, and geography of the place. The environment and surroundings greatly impact my work and inspire me.

Which artist(s) have influenced you the most?

During my time at the National Institute Of Design, while working on a project, I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Subhash Kolekar. He was the only photographer in town at that time, and I had the opportunity to explore a significant portion of his work.

I was consistently inspired by his photography and the creative approach he brought to his projects. One of my personal projects, called Dapoli, draws genuine inspiration from Subhash's work. His artistic influence has played a significant role in shaping the direction and vision of my project.
- Abhishek Khedekar

What led to your collaboration with November Noon?

Priyanka played a big role in giving me freedom and allowing me to try out new ideas. I had a discussion with the stylist, Manglin, about the properties of different materials used in their clothing, which led to even more creative and unique concepts for clothing. This collaboration with November Noon was a result of our combined skills and ideas coming together.

Khanij Summer 2023
Khanij Summer 2023
Khanij Summer 2023

Can you describe the concept behind the campaign images for Khanij?

It's really hard to put into words when it comes to explaining images, but in this campaign, each image was like a stage for me. I had this idea that one image would lead to another, and they would all work together beautifully. I wanted the portraits to perfectly complement the fabric and garments, and I chose a stunning location that would highlight the fabric's shiny and reflective qualities. The contrast between the fabric and the unexpected mining land backdrop made it even more interesting.

And, what was the experience like while you were shooting?

The weather conditions were challenging, with scorching heat and blazing. However, despite the demanding circumstances, the team did an amazing job!

Your favourite image from the shoot?

Akshara stands in front of a massive yellow mountain, with the morning sunlight perfectly shining.