Padmanabhan Rangarajan from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, but have spent the better part of his life in Mumbai. For Padmanabhan, photography is more about “seeing” people, than about capturing them in his camera. He would always make it a point to portray them in their natural settings, so that it gives a perspective of who they are, and how they live. Thanks Padmanabhan for accepting our invite. Please read and inspire yourself.
Could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, I am Padmanabhan, from Chennai, India. Have spent the better part of my life in Mumbai, but Chennai is currently home.
Could you please share your childhood memories towards arts?
Arts was always a part of my growing up. Music and literature were part of my family. Even though I have a Commerce background, I gravitated towards Arts by design. I used to dabble in painting as a kid, but visual arts was always interesting. I have picked up the camera around 5 years back and into active shooting for past 4 years.
How did you develop an interest in people photography? What kind of human activities and elements do you like shooting most?
I was into all sorts of genres…landscapes, street, temples, festivals etc…but I think I am able to connect with people better…. if we can make our subjects comfortable in front of the camera, then in my experience they tend to open up..or rather ignore our presence and go on with their routine activities…the tough part is making them comfortable with us…our body language needs to be benign… remember, we are intruding into their private space and we must respect that!!
I would prefer rural Indian lifestyle as there is so much innocence, sincerity and purpose.
I would term India itself as a separate genre…which encompasses all the rustic beauty of my country!! India is electrifying…it’s serendipity personified with all types of subjects living in perfect harmony with each other. It is a rare occurrence and we need to maintain it that way.
What difference does photography create in your life?
Photography has given a purpose to existence…it has also helped me observe things which otherwise we would have just walked away from casually.
In your idea, what makes a good photograph?
Anything that arrests the viewer and makes the creator happy is a good photograph. It need not speak a thousand words or convey any meaning or story.
Something that affects you even after viewing the photograph is a good photograph. Simple.
What are your thoughts on working on single images versus projects?
I would rate Single images as more complex since we need to bring out the entire story line in one frame, which is pretty challenging. Even though projects are difficult in terms of volume they ease out the story telling and distribute them across different frames.
But, in single image photography, identifying the perfect moment to shoot, or identifying the perfect frame to submit is a challenge in itself. There is no luxury of hit or miss!!
You have captured some amazing photographs in Araku Valley. Could you please share your travel experience?
Thanks for the compliments.
Araku is an unspoilt rural heaven in India. I hope it would remain that way forever. Unfortunately, technology and development is fast catching up, I know that is a very selfish thing to say!!!
It is predominantly a rural, tribal inhabited place that has still preserved our culture, lifestyle, innocence, and beauty. Even though I have a decent amount of work of other locations, I think Araku stands out for it’s pristine beauty…and the credit must go to Mr Shekhar, one of my mentors, and the place in itself!!
Travel to Araku is an exhilarating experience and it feels like second home. I would term it as a Pilgrimage rather than a photo tour. That’s the amount of seriousness I approach that place with. And it has rewarded me amply in return.
What is the best compliment you received so far?
Nothing in particular that comes to my mind immediately. Actually I am not influenced by compliments or negative remarks. I just do my work and move ahead!!
Could you please share one “Happiest Moment in your Photography Life”?
Featuring multiple times in Nat Geo and 121Clicks!!
Which photographers have inspired you?
Personally, I have been greatly influenced by Ashok Saravanan Sir…his Black and White processing is what I try to emulate. Mouhamed Moustapha, Saurabh Chatterjee, Praveen Mohandas, Nara etc are inspiring in their respective genres. I love the works of Steve McCurry, in particular. His colour photos are worth worshipping. Raghu Rai is another hero.
What’s your personal motto?
Shoot while you can. Aim for quality and not quantity.
What is Love?
Love is something that doesn’t let you sleep or something that haunts you even in your dreams…something that makes life worth living…
Apart from photography, tell me about your hobbies and interests?
Avid reader…I read anything and everything under the sun…..Indian music, especially into Ilayaraaja, RD Burman, MSV, ARR etc!!!