Recently we met with Vinay Vijayakumar who gave us an interview about his photography. Vinay Vijayakumar is a passionate software engineer in the Silicon Valley, an amateur writer and blogger. He’s a gadget FREAK! Random. A social media addict. Vinay loves to learn new things and he mostly stays self-motivated. He thinks staring up at the sky and star gazing is a really cool thing to do as long as you’ve set up your camera to capture a star trail ;D He simply loves to connect with new people for someone somewhere said “Strangers are friends you haven’t met” 🙂
AP: Your first works. What did they look like?
VV: I developed a special interest in photography as a way to relax when away from the busy school schedule. What better place to start than the Bay Area and the Pacific Coast. So, I sat and ran through several websites and forums to understand the basic rules involved. I was 23 years old. There were pretty sights all around me and it inspired me enough to believe I could create my own wallpapers.
I shot with a Canon A640 point and shoot camera which had a full manual mode. I had an interesting, but, extremely tough time without any shortcuts on the camera. It made my experiments much harder, but, gave me a better understanding and a huge crash course in how patience is importance in photography.
AP: Do you have any formal education in your sphere or were you self-taught?
VV: My knowledge about the entire filed of photography was acquired from the Internet. Lots of time spent googling, reading articles and merely staring at works by well-known photographers to understand the application of the theoretical basics that I learned from reading. The skills to compose and get a shot ‘right’ weren’t easy because they weren’t something that could be taught or acquired from a text book. It required a change in perception of things and a lot of practice. It meant spending hours outside home getting my hands dirty.
AP: What genre are your works?
VV: Like most photographers, I started out shooting landscapes. It was the easiest to begin with and the point and shoot I owned was limited and capable of just so much. I was mostly limited by the gear I owned then. A point and shoot and a 6 inch mini-tripod. But, somehow although I got better at composing pictures, the results did not have the ‘life’ I looked for in it. So, I had to go a step forward and try High Dynamic Range pictures (HDRs) for the landscapes to bring out all the details of the picture. And then I got my hands on my current gear which is a Nikon D90 – a semi-pro DSLR.
I have since then learned and experimented with objects, table-top, portraits and off-late a little bit of studio lighting and strobes. Being the kind that loves to experiment, I am constantly trying to expand my horizons and try different genres over time.
AP: How would you describe your works?
VV: My works are what I WANT to see in a picture. I share and let people see what I want them to see. People might have seen something already. My goal is to make them see what I see. Simply put, I try and portray mundane stuff in ‘different light’ (pun intended).
I try and get a lot of feedback and criticism because that’s the only thing that can lead to improvement.
AP: What kind of equipment and techniques do you use to create your works?
VV: I use a Nikon D90 – a semi-pro DSLR. I own the kit lens which is 18-105mm and also a 50mm – f/1.8 prime lens. I use an SB-700 speedlight from Nikon for flash photography. A 3 mono-light set up for studio lighting. A lovely Caselogic bag to lug my stuff around and ofcourse a backup set of batteries and a backup for the backup.
Like every picture needs a different setting on the camera before shooting. I visualize what it needs after it comes off the camera as well. To post process I use Adobe Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS5 and Photomatix at times for HDRs alone. I need a lot of backup storage considering I shoot in RAW. So, for the purpose I use a Seagate portable HDD for the purpose.
AP: Would you consider yourself as an expert in this sphere?
VV: In the creative arts, I believe there is nothing called being an expert because every day is a new day offering new lessons to learn. But, based on experience and standards, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert.
Although I am no expert yet, I am definitely putting in a lot of time and effort towards becoming professional and over some time I am sure I will make it ‘there’.
AP: What is the formula for success in your activity?
VV: Stay motivated. Stay passionate. Dream big. Have a vision about where you finally want to be at.
I do try and participate in contests and projects as they come along. I won a photography contest held at Stanford University, California. I won the first place in 3 categories – People & Portraits, Animal Life and Objects. The contest had a thick participation of around 75 photographers.
AP: Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
VV: My Sister (Swat) and Brother-in-law (Vikram) were my first ‘models’ to begin with. They are the ones that gifted me my first DSLR and I believe there aren’t words that can sound grateful enough. My family and friends are my first critics. They help me improve.
A friend Sudheer I go shooting with often, keeps enlightening me about a lot of things that are happening and keeps coming up with interesting ideas for experiments.
A lot of my friends support me on my Facebook page and Flickr to keep me going. It wouldn’t be possible without them to keep moving forward… Passion, Motivation and Attention to detail are the most essential parts of what I do and why I do it. I believe there is something interesting about everything we see and I try to capture that special thing that adds ‘life’ to a picture.
AP: Would like to wish something to your readers and AstrumPeople?
VV: Dream big. Stay focused and passionate. Look for motivation within. Believe in yourself. Be very open to criticism. Keep movingforward, the only reason to look back should be to learn from your mistakes.
Get in touch and connect with me if you wanna shoot together some day 🙂
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