Our “Inspiration Feeder” presents to you short interviews with interesting visual artists from around the globe. Today in focus: Sankar Sridhar.
How old are you?
I’m 42. In terms of photography, that would make me the kind of person who once spent hours in the darkroom, fretted over running out of film during travels, and never really worried about batteries draining in two days, or dust on the sensor.
Where do you come from?
I’m Indian, born and raised, and thankful everyday for being born in a country that boasts such great diversity, in terms of languages, living cultures and lifestyles and a mind-boggling array of landscapes.
How long have you been doing photography?
In terms of handling a camera, I began when I was 14, with a plastic point-and-shoot hotshot camera my elder brother loaned me. I needed it because I had decided on going on a 20-day solo trek. The camera cracked in the cold, and I got into a whole lot of trouble with my brother, but it changed for the better everything I wanted to do with my life. Frugal travel (like budget travel, only with far more limitations) became a routine and at the age of 19, I was confident enough to take a loan from my father to buy myself a Nikon FM 10 as my companion on my journeys. By 22, I was so in love with photography decided it would remain constant throughout my life, so gave up on a career in banking and chose instead to follow my dream through travel writing and photography.
How would you define your style?
I have always struggled with classifying what I shoot. The closest I could come would be “travel photograper”. In terms of style, slowness and the lack of furious clicking dominates my approach, perhaps because of the many years I worked under the limitations imposed by film cameras in terms of the number of shots you could pump out per roll. Overall, since I largely work on personal projects and am not rushing against deadline, I shoot without ever losing track of why I shoot. To learn, and hopefully to transmit my learnings or experiences on to those who see the images. Whether it’s people or landscapes, or people in their environment, I love adding bits in terms of elements in the trame that allow the viewer to craft a story about what the subjects’ lives could be like. And, of course, I remain a devoted to light, allowing it to dictate everything I shoot. In a nutshell, an emphasis on light, an honest depiction of life, and a palpable comfort among my subjects remain of paramount importance.
How long do you think it took you to find your personal style of shooting?
To be honest, It’s still a work in progress and evolving, because style is as much about aesthetics as it is about a statement. A frame that evokes emotion, and allows a visual narrative to be built is a difficult affair. Shedding the emotions I felt when making the image, and viewing it purely as a 2-dimensional creation takes a lot of discipline and a near-mercenary attitude toward culling images. Thankfully, I had decided very early in my journey into photography that I would focus on documenting the lives of people whose lifestyles are under threat. That remains my focus to this day, so I have the luxury of just bettering my style of documenting the many aspects of their lives, and the changes that are overtaking them.
What would you say is the thing that most inspires you? / What is your main source of inspiration?
The immense diversity in people, as much as communities as individuals within communities. Being with the people, and knowing them offers more than enough motivation to be patient and find frames that grab your attention for more than just a fleeting second. I still do not know what I will do with my images, because I shoot for purely personal reasons. But I live in hope that some day, when the world has changed a bit too much, these images might be a thoughtful and sensitive reminder the many things that were cherishable and lost, and provide an honest insight into many aspects of life we overlook — the good and the bad. Does one need any greater inspiration that that?
You can find more about Sankar Sridhar here: