Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vivek Mathew, An Artistic Lensman

As I was rambling around the photostands at Bangalore Photography Festival, among many people my eyes fell on a spectacled person, thin and geeky looking. I thought he was one of the photophiles like me who had exhibited his works and didn't really pay much attention to him initially. Being an art lover, I felt that the photos of Vivek Mathew under the pro category had a peculiar piquancy. I personally liked the rooster in front of the blue wooden panels, a simple yet aesthetic photograph. I was pleasantly surprised to later realize that the bespectacled simple person I had noticed was none other than the creator of rooster photograph which I liked so much - Vivek Mathew.

A true Bangalorean by heart, Vivek says "Photography has always been a passion for me since childhood. It is something about a image which you capture that lasts forever for example a holiday, a birthday party, a wedding etc. You can never get some of these moments back but you can have a look at them only through images." Genius are either born or made, Vivek belongs to the former set of people. His dream of being photographer was conceived when he was a child, he used to like seeing photographs during his childhood days which helped him greatly in his photography career. Because photography is not just learnt by clicking, but a great deal of of learning happens by SEEing other's photographs.

When asked about inspirations, along with the great Steve McCurry, he says he is greatly inspired by Jay Maisel, Raghu Rai, Paul Liebhardt and the Brook's institute alumni Pallon Daruwala. Like other photographers, his favourite photograph is the unforgettable shot of Sharbat Gula, the Afghan girl by Steve. (For the initiated, here is the link to the story: The Afghan Girl).

Photographs are made in the mind of the photographer and not in his camera is a popular saying among photophiles. In case of Vivek this statement is verbatim true for he is an art photographer. Art photography is way too different from conventional portrait or landscape photography because art photography is not one of those "what you see is what you capture" kinds. Art photography needs a special insight, that of an artist, which not everyone possess. When asked why he prefers art photography, while many others mint money choosing commercial photography, he says "Art photography is something which comes from person inside you and the way u see life and the things around u. Its a thought process which comes from an artist(photographer) and no one else. It's what you enjoy making pictures & having no one to tell you what to do as compared to commercial photography where you have a client/art director telling you what type of image he or she wants. I chose art photography because it brings out the best of me. It's something I enjoy shooting." For those who are keen to know Vivek's gear, with due respect to the opening statement of this paragraph, he shoots with Nikon 200D with 17-35mm and 80-200mm lenses without any flash or filters.

Vivek is an alumni of the famous "Light and Life Academy" located in precious mountainous city of Ooty in the state of Tamil Nadu. Talking about the academy he says that one gets an enormous exposure working with biggies in the photography field like Pallon Daruwala, Paul Liebhardt, Jonathan Kingston & Rudy Loupias. It's the inspiration, the courage, the will power,the strong mind, pushing yourself to the limit are the qualities that one should posses for being a successful photographer says Vivek, which sounds obviously true.

Design Today and Times Journal of Photography have published Vivek's works. His recent exhibition titled "Waterborne", a theme based on water has brought him into lime light with wide media coverage. He has also used his skills for social cause by working with traffic police in Bangalore against "Drink and Drive". He says, "Photography as a social cause is very important. It is important to use these images as a communication to tell the whole world about a certain cause and bring awareness of the things around. Some of these images are used to get funds from people abroad. I have also done some work for a NGO who educates poor street kids in Bangalore. It helped the organisation to show case these pictures to the world." Kudos to you Vivek.

Talking of future, Vivek has dreams of shooting for National Geographic. He has an ambition of taking good photographs which would speak out loud to the whole world, which would convey a 1000 words and which would be remembered forever. His suggestion to aspiring photographers is as simple as him, "Just keep shooting and enjoy it".

The striking part of Vivek's photographs is sheer simplicity. If you look at the images above, you can notice that it's not an impossible photograph to click for an ordinary photographer, but it's not possible for most of them to see an art or compose a photograph there. Simple and artistic are the two adjectives which would describe most of his photographs. Don't forget to check out his official website which contains more of his artwork.

And just in case you're wondering how this artist looks like, here he is:

P.S. Copyrights of all photographs in this article are owned by Vivek Mathew. Please do not copy or use photographs without photographer's consent.
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