Photography, for him, is not just a weekend time pass. It's his way of finding the extraordinary in the common around us. Dubai based Indian photographer Sreeranj Sreedhar harrows the street with a clean slate inside to yield the unseen. He believes in learning the art of photography from real masters and then finding his own style to rear and deliver it in his own way...
How and when did you take to photography?
I used to take pictures of my family and friends during the film days. Then stopped for a long time and it was in 2011 after getting my DSLR that I started doing serious photography tapping its creative side.
What do you love to photograph?
I started with travel photography but since last 2 years I have been doing mostly street photography. I love to capture the unexpected moments that unfold in front of me while walking on the streets with no preconceived ideas. Seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary scenes of life is what fascinates me.
Why do you love this genre that you practice?
It is the ingredient of surprise element in this type of photography that keeps me excited. It could be on the field and also once you come back home looking at the contact sheet you find a shot that you least expected to work. Street Photography is very difficult in terms of seeing as to get a special image, an image that makes your viewers wonder; you need to see differently and of course with lot of luck. It is also one of the least understood and most debated genre in photography.
Any particular shot of yours that you love and why do you love it?
There is one shot I had taken in 2014 of one of the oldest Vedic Schools of Kerala, which had won many awards and got published in National Geographic Daily Dozen too. Many have been inspired with this shot and have tried visiting the place to emulate and do a photo story.
Your journey so far…
It has been a great learning and unlearning experience. The more I learn about photography looking and reading about work of great masters from Magnum and other collectives; I understand that photography is above any particular genre or labels.
What difference have you noticed in your genre of photography over the course of time?
I have changed from Travel to Documentary to Street over the past 6 years’ time and it is a constantly refining process in my seeing and knowledge in this art. Now I am more fascinated by the ordinary scenes which we tend to ignore in our daily life.
How do you handle adverse situations while shooting?
Under such situations, I normally tend to smile and walk away rather than going for a quarrel. If my subjects are not happy in being photographed, then I respect their decision. However most of my images are taken without them knowing. Hence I rarely come across such situations.
Do you think gear matters? How?
It depends on the type of photography you are doing. Gear does matter if you are doing professional photography such as commercial, weddings, as you need to deliver quality work to your clients. However for genre such as travel and street photography, you would need a compact and light weight camera to meet your requirements. But most important are the images you produce out of the gear you own. If you do not have the eye for producing good creative shots, then no matter what gear you have, it won’t help.
Your future plans...
Planning to retire from corporate work soon and spending more time on photography. Getting a book published is my dream.
Your story / you in other roles than a photographer...
I am from Kerala, India but have been living/working in Dubai for past 26 years. I work as a Human Resource and Administration Manager. I am married with one daughter doing her post-graduation.
Your suggestions for the budding photographers…
You need to decide if photography is your weekend time pass or is it a passion to create art. If it is to create art, then you need to study lot of masters’ works such as Magnum and other famous collectives to understand how and why they have taken the picture. Initially it is OK to copy and repeat if you find a similar frame as you have seen of a master photographer, but after sometime need to find your own voice. Attend good workshops by photographers whom you admire. Understand their approach and try to practice it in your shoots. Most of all no matter how many workshops you may attend, at the end of the day only with your practice and hard work will you be able to produce creative and quality shots.