Photography is more than a passion for these techies
In this digital age of instant gratification, anyone with a keen eye and a reasonably good image-capturing device can snap a picture and even immediately upload/Instagram it online for the world to see. It’s that easy. And perhaps that’s why there are many for whom photography is a hobby. But within the mass of shutter bugs there are also many who take a professional approach to the craft and art of photography. “My camera (a Nikon DSLR D40S) is my constant companion. Clicking pictures is my best stress buster. There is something hugely gratifying about capturing a moment as it happens with just the click of a button,” says techie Ashok A. Menon who works at IBS. He has been in the IT field for 18 years and has been a keen photographer for a fair number of those years. Like Ashok, there are many other “professional amateurs” in Technopark (some put the figure close to a 100), who with their high-end cameras, have been making waves in the Indian photography scene and earning money in the process.
Take Unni K. Sunny, a storyboard artist with Toonz Animation, for example. This keen amateur photographer, who has been clicking pictures since he was in class 10, made it to the cover of Better Photography magazine, one of India’s premier photography journals, thrice with his shots of wildlife! “I am a nature lover, who grew up in scenic Kombanad village in Eranakulam district. I started photography as a sort of environmental activism. Nature continues to be my muse. My pictures of a frog and a butterfly and one of a silhouette of an ant made it to the cover of Better Photography. I believe that photography has helped me in bettering my visual sensibilities, on composition and framing, which comes in handy when I’m drawing up storyboards,” says Unni, who is presently in Kolkata on an official trip. “In Kolkata, I’m experimenting with the nuances of street photography,” adds Unni, whose photos can be found on his Facebook page Unni K. Sunny Photography.
Then there is Vimal Cleetus, who works with UST Global, whose photo feature of Chandigarh appeared in a travel magazine of a leading Malayalam newspaper. Vimal is also his company’s unofficial photographer, the one who often clicks pictures of the company’s many events. Techie John T. Mathew who works at Oracle, meanwhile, has been making a name for himself with his photos on performing arts and more recently with his interest in fashion photography. “In event photography you cannot control what is happening on stage and each click is spontaneous – a mudra there, an expression here. In fashion photography, meanwhile, you can control what’s happening in front of you,” says John.
Like Unni, Vimal, and Ashok most of these techies are not trained in the medium, but have learnt the technicalities and the aesthetics of photography through trial and error with, well, each click. “I personally feel that there is no theory really when it comes to good photography. All you need is a keen visual sense and a good camera. I myself started off with a phone camera and then gradually moved on to the higher versions of cameras. The first thing you have to do is know your camera well – take at least a month or two to pour over its user manual and experiment with the settings. And then, well, it’s just a matter of clicking away,” says Vimal. His interest, he says, is portraiture.
And because there are many photographers, there are many photography clubs within campus and within companies on campus too, most of which are very active in the field. Natana, Technopark’s cultural club, has a photography club with around 50 members. “Every year, we hold sessions on photography where we invite experts such as Balan Madhavan to take sessions. Next year we are planning a camp” says John, one of the active members of the group. He’s also part of 5.6, a popular Facebook group for photographers and of another informal group of like-minded, city-based photographers. “We are often at Nishagandhi auditorium when there is an event happening. We also often make trips to Punchakari in Vellayani to capture shots of migratory birds,” adds John. IBS, meanwhile, has an in-house photography group called ‘Click On’ started by Ashok and his friends Sajesh P. Jose, Sanu George, and Bhavana. It has close to 30 members on its rolls. “We try to get together often and take photography trips. Six months ago, six of us from the group had a wonderful photography trip to Tenkasi,” says Ashok who has held around four of exhibitions of his photographs (in the city and in Kochi). One of his pictures of a mother and child was recently bought by the Kerala Government for its official brochures. Unni, meanwhile, is part of a Technopark group of photographers who call themselves ‘Saturday Shoot Out’.
“Photography groups are the most helpful when it comes to critiques. Also most of them readily share equipment, especially expensive lenses. Also, when we go on trips together or cover events together we can get to see multiple interpretations of the same thing/moment,” says Unni.