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An Exclusive Interview With Distinguished Photographer Sukumaran Menon

Sukumaran Menon

Sukumaran Menon

Amateur, self-taught hobby photographer

1) Would you tell us more about you and your interest in Photography?

To start with, let me admit that I am an amateur, self-taught, serious hobby photographer. For over 10 years now I have been dabbling in photography - first with the basic point and shoot cameras and progressing to DSLR since 2013. While still in school, I was an avid painter of watercolours encouraged by my then Drawing Master, Mr. Jayadev; to whom I should also place credit for my photography. He taught me the fundamentals of composition, etc that laid the foundation. Later, after many years when I took up photography, I used the same rules taught to me on composing. I also read up books and watched Youtube videos to hone my photography skills. In the last 10 years, I believe I have evolved as a photographer as much as I have grown as an artist and human being. Today, photography is a passion, an abundant source of satisfaction and happiness. Watching other photographer’s works and learning from them is as much essential and a ritual for me as my own photography. Venice

2) Can you please tell us about the types of Photography you indulge with?

As a hobby photographer, you don’t start with any specific niche photography. You are usually shooting everything and sundry from scenic shots from your travels to being the chosen photographer for family functions. The same was my experience and it was exhilarating. The good comments/feedback I received for my earlier efforts encouraged me to get more and more involved, even though photography was an expensive hobby in the earlier days. Once I got my DSLR in 2013 (Nikon D600) – my most prized possession; the quality of the images improved dramatically along with my zest for photography. My Consulting work until recently entailed a lot of travel and this gave me an opportunity to visit places for photography. I found myself gravitating to heritage architecture with its shapes and forms fascinating me. This is beside the landscapes and usual tourist milieu scenes which are stapled food for photography. Over the last couple of years, I found myself chasing forms and figures in Monochrome with special emphasis on Light & Shadow. Black & White photography took precedence to colour in my portfolio and today, it continues to be my favourite medium; so much so that I have learned to combine my fascination for heritage architecture with monochrome images for my ultimate satisfaction. Abstract images in monochrome are what I am constantly looking for, although I still continue with the traditional landscapes, etc. for the popular viewer. I am not a big fan of street photography and actually, you will rarely find the human element in my pictures. That’s how I like it! Lepakshi

3) What is the inspiration that keeps you going?

As I mentioned earlier, my Drawing Master from Secondary School, Mr. Jayadev was my first inspiration to take up art and painting. I do believe strongly that photography is in some ways an extension of our artistic inclination through a different medium. I would love to paint some of my own pictures, although sadly I have stopped painting long back. Today, I am inspired by watching the works of several photographers and learning from them. These are some brilliant but ordinary photographers in mediums like 500px and Facebook. You can learn a lot and it is most humbling to watch others pictures. I am also inspired to take more photographs by the encouragement I receive from my friends and strangers. Nakuru Lake

4) How do you feel when your work is exhibited and viewed by tons of people?

I have had the pleasure of having some of my works exhibited through the auspices of our photography group TGIS at the Chitra Kala Parishath and also at the Neralu Foundation exhibition. It is extremely gratifying to have your works viewed by thousands of people and sometimes to hear them comment on it in a positive way while in ear-shot. Like any other human being, I too find this experience very gratifying and humbling at the same time. You are usually your biggest critic and to hear appreciative words spoken about your works makes one believe that all the effort has been justified. Lamp

5) Can you tell us something about Photography and its inception?

Photography, as we know today, did not originate as a hobby for the masses. It has a rich history behind it. From the time when people tried to capture light using metallic plate coated with silver to the invention of the first film camera, the story unfolds over a hundred years. Before its invention, the only way to capture a slice of time was through paintings. It was tedious and expensive. Photography not only resolved this problem, but it also freed the artist from being bound to reality, he could now paint what feels real to him. A single-lens reflex camera (SLR) uses a mirror and prism system that permits the photographer to view through the lens and see exactly what will be captured. A viewing image that will be exposed to the negative exactly as it is seen. When the shutter button is pressed, the mirror flips out of the light path, allowing light to pass through to the film or sensor, capturing the image. There is no parallax error, and focus can be confirmed by eye especially in macro photography and when photographing using telephoto lenses. SLR technology gave us the best preview method available; it gave us the ability to see the world through our cameras. No more guesswork, and hoping you got everyone in the shot. From the time of cave paintings and even in the renaissance period, people have always wanted to express what they saw around them, to me photography serves that purpose, to tell stories that cannot be told in any other way. We may be prisoners of time, forever transitioning from the past to the present, but with the help of photography, we can hold a precious few of those moments with us. No matter if you are shooting with your iPhone or a DSLR, we are standing on the shoulders of these giants. Photographers play an important role, we are here to tell stories of the world, how it is, and how it was. We are the only ones who can stop time in its tracks. Rome

6) To you, what is Photography?

It seems like an easy question, but in fact, it’s not. How do you answer what photography really means to you? Is it a hobby? Is it a passion? Is it an expression? Is it a getaway? Photography is an art that addresses everyone that is willing to notice the details and experience life from another point of view. It’s not easy seeing through a lens, distorting, magnifying or editing reality. When you manage to achieve it though, you know how your life changes! For me, photography is the best way to show someone your point of view, what you are and what you think. It’s also a way to immortalize moments and emotions that you can remember and share with others. Photography is not just a hobby; it’s a way of thinking! For me, photography is also a passion. It’s a way for me to capture moments forever and share with the world. There is so much beauty out there that we take for granted and I feel that the lens can do such a wonderful job capturing that beauty. In our busy lives, it’s easy to pass those moments by and forget they even happened. But with photography, we can document those moments for an eternity. NYC Dusk

7) Please share us some of your achievements in Photography Profession?

I am afraid I don’t have many achievements to showcase, other than some of my works being accepted for the Jaga Chitra Art festival and the Neralu Art Foundation. I am, I believe; a fairly private person and do not get into the public space as much as some of my friends and well-wishers want me to. Waiting

8) Can you tell us something about your Photography community?

I am a part of the “Thank God It’s Saturday” (TGIS) photo community. My work commitments and my health don’t permit me to be a very active member of the group - as much as I would like to. As I mentioned, I am only a serious Hobby photographer and generally, I make solo-travel for my photography work. I am not very comfortable working in groups these days and prefer solo travel – however uncivil that may sound. Once a year I always travel overseas for photography and Europe is my favorite haunt. The heritage architecture there has me repeatedly visiting it. In India, Jaipur and Varanasi are my favorite cities for photography. Masai Mara

9) What do you think about the scope of Photography in the modern Digital world?

I believe that modern digital photography is the BEST thing to have happened in the recent times. It has made photography affordable for all. Today anyone with a smartphone is an aspiring photographer and can nurture his aspirations before progressing to an SLR/DSLR. The digital age reshapes our notion of photography. I strongly believe that Photography is the most contemporary of art forms and I am excited about the future. Tea cup medley

10) Can you share us your future plans and dreams?

As regards my future plans and dreams, firstly I want to continue to travel once a year for dedicated photography. I hope that this continues to happen. Many friends and well-wishers are constantly asking me to conduct a solo exhibition of my works. At the moment my work commitments don’t permit me the time and the effort is too great. It is on my Bucket list and one day I hope to have my own exhibition. I also want to come out with a Coffee-table book of my selected photographs. This will probably happen sooner than the exhibition. Wish me luck!! I must congratulate Honeycomb on not just being an exemplary printing house, but also being a very vibrant and active member of the photography community in Bangalore by their participation and organizing of exhibitions. I wish them all success. Poland

11) How do you feel about your association with Honeycomb creative support?

I am extremely pleased with my long association with Honeycomb essentially comprising of Mr. Sreekumar and Mr. Noufel. I got to know about them through TGIS and I was very happy with the quality of the printing. Subsequently, I have used Honeycomb on a few occasions for printing my pictures and the end results have been fantastic. NYC
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