Thank you Mahesh Balasubramanian for being the honorable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, July 2019.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview with Mahesh Balasubramanian to know his view and approach to Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[Mahesh] I am Mahesh, born in Chennai and brought up in Trichy. After my graduation, came to Chennai for work and settled here. Basically, I am a software professional. I am a self taught Photographer and fascinated by people photography.
I never thought I would become a photographer or whatever I am now with my camera. I always liked the idea of movies and especially still pictures and how it can be used to tell some stories. I used to watch lots of movies with my friends in my college days. I think those were some foundation to choose camera over other creative field.
I became somewhat serious with photography from 2007 / 2008 and started learning different aspects of photography. I started watching masters’ works / lots of world cinema to understand the visual language. Those are the inspirations for my photography.
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[Mahesh] I love to shoot all kinds of people photography. (street / portraits / travel). Street photography is always fascinating to me. That is because, you can always expect the unexpected. Sometimes, it creates some kind of magical moment. I don’t bother about the outcome of the shoot. But, I really enjoy the process of taking photos on the street and that is what keeps me going.
For me, a good street photo is something which has some magical moment / asking lots of questions / mystery / emotions. I always give priority to the Content over Form. But, if both are there in the picture, it would be an added value to the picture.
– These days we are seeing so many great works of current photographers and masters available on the Internet and otherwise. As such, how can we try to be original in our approach?
[Mahesh] We are really lucky enough to see lots of great photos from so many contemporary and master works. By looking at Masters’ works, we learn, unlearn and relearn. It helps us to understand the visual language much better.
Street photography is so fascinating because every scene in daily life is unique. There may be some coincidence. But, most of the time, it will be unique. We just have to see it and approach our own way to create some unique & interesting picture out of it.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[Mahesh] I don’t think I have any style in my photography. I always try to go close and take pictures. First, I will try to find some good content to capture. Then, I love to add different composition elements in my photos like lines, patterns, lights & shadows, layers, abstract etc. I think street photography gives lots of opportunity to experiment on how to present a scene visually.
– Projects or single images? If so why?
[Mahesh] For me, Both. Why can’t we create a single picture which can make a Project. I always want to create a single picture which has everything to convey to the viewers. Each picture can be independent and stand of its own. Collection of these pictures can make a specific project. Project gives some focus for long term. I follow this principle for my personal project / series and my commercial assignments.
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[Mahesh] I have been doing photography over a decade now. I think it changed me a lot in a positive way. I meet lots of people and try to observe people and their behavior within the environment. It helps me in a way to understand & approach my life in a positive manner.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
[Mahesh] Be curious and try to be an observer of the people & surrounding . Listen to your heart while shooting.
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
[Mahesh] The list is very big and I think it keeps changing. But, I always go back to some of the Masters’ works like Raghubir Singh, Josef Koudelka, Trent Parke. One of my friend and fellow photographer introduced me Jason Eskanazi. I love his work and especially “Wonderland”.
Some of my favorite books:
1. The Decisive Moment – Henri Cartier-Bresson
2. The Ganges – Raghubir Singh
3. Minutes to Midnight – Trent Parke