I am from Kerala, India. I work as a game programmer. I’d been drawing and painting from a very young age. Did it close to 15 years before dropping it completely one day when engineering appeared to be more lucrative than the prospects of pursuing art. A few years later, the guilt of abandoning art started gnawing at me and every attempt at picking it back up failed miserably. During this period, around 2008, I got curious about photography, street photography in particular (primarily because it coincided with the golden age of street photography on Flickr). I was working in Mumbai at that time, and the vibrant–albeit chaotic–city was a grand replacement for the canvas I lost.
Mumbai was endlessly frustrating. The chaos was overwhelming and I was reluctant to embrace it at the beginning. But the challenges the city gave me turned out to be quite helpful later. I am a control freak when it comes to photography. Great street photographs are often picked up from deep within chaos. You just need to be ready to tolerate everything being ‘wrong’ in the frame until the picture reveals itself. I was not so patient back then and often worked around my comfort zones at sea sides. Next time, if I get another chance at the city, I will approach it differently.
Around 2012 I started taking pictures in Kerala. Kerala is more intuitive for me. I am in Kerala now, shooting sporadically. Early in 2020, I went on a 2-week trip to Rajasthan and marveled at the visual richness of the place.
In Mumbai I used to be out shooting most weekends. I used to carry camera with me often. The city being constantly in motion, once you step out of your house, everywhere is a backdrop for a potential photograph. In Kerala I arrive at a scene less spontaneously, and this often involves long or short travels and planned trips. Couple that with my hectic work schedule, time spent shooting got much shorter than it used to be. With the arrival of Covid, things are on an indefinite halt. I often take pictures around home though. Time-wise, early mornings and late evenings are preferred.
It depends on how I feel about what I see. Sometimes pictures are taken on a pure adrenaline rush, like playing a computer game. A lot of things happening and you reach out into that incoherent transient mess, sensing some faint order and you hear a ‘yes’ in your head and at some point and press the shutter. Then there are another kind of scenes that slowly pull you in. In either case, you have to lose yourself to what you experience.
Because I have to. There are certain psychological reasons that I don’t want to get into right now. I got into meditation a few years after I started photography. When I tried it, it felt very similar to how I feel while I am in a comfortable mental space during photography. When elements are in balance on the fine tip of time before tumbling over, it is a glorious thing to witness and steal. It clears my head into a very peaceful state. The balance and calmness that I find outside permeates me. It makes me happy. In a world that is becoming increasingly distraction-driven, photography allows me to slow down and pay attention to the nature of things. To observe and be curious. To wonder and remember. To manifest ideas and stories which may find no other means of expression.