For Bangalore based professional photographer, Vivek Mathew, the camera is simply an extension of his own discerning eyes and mind which is evident in the subjects he chooses to capture.
It is not the grandiose or glamor that enamors him, but the rustic and the pining. Light and shade have quite often played a role in bringing drama and intrigue. In short, his creativity is a narrative of his increasing sensitivity with his camera, continuing from his past works. Having delved into various genres such as, advertising, architectural, interiors, travel, industrial etc., his art has always been true to his style and instincts. Excerpts:
Could you tell us about yourself, or still better “Give us a brief about your photography CV’. How did you get drawn into architectural visualization? How did photography turn into something more serious than just a hobby and why?
I have always been passionate about photography as a kid. Like everybody, I have always liked pictures since they last forever. To illustrate this point better, your parents’ wedding, your 3rd birthday party, a vacation abroad, your high school pictures and so on are rare moments that can never be captured again.
The difference is probably that I also loved taking pictures as a child. I used to plead with people to give me the camera at family functions, birthday parties or on holidays as I was crazy about taking pictures. I remember waiting for rolls to get processed, since I wanted to see how the images have turned out. So pretty early in life(during school), I decided that I wanted to become a photographer and nothing else. My uncle, Avijit Dutt, gave me my first camera at the age of 12. Generally, I used to take pictures at school picnics, birthdays, family functions and vacations. However, deep down I wanted to pursue photography as my career and didn’t want to do anything else.
Once I passed out of school, I decided to join the Light & Life Academy in Ooty, for training in the field. At that time I was the youngest student there, and majority of my batch mates were graduates, some with work experience. Ooty garnered my interest in landscape and street photography as the location is quite scenic. During the course, we had Pallon Daruwala as faculty for a class on architecture and interior photography. His work and perception of architecture from a documentary point of view inspired me. The class was an eye opener and I grew aware of the different forms, angles and sizes of buildings all the more.
What are the factors that catalyzed the surge of interest in modern architecture in India over the last few years. Is there room for actual intellectual interpretation in your work and how?
Architecture has really changed over the years. A lot of fantastic and talented architects are coming out with brilliant and modern designs, which really motivates a photographer to make some fantastic images of these projects. I try to document a certain project from the architect’s perspective. This helps because my work is original, straight forward, simple and documentary in nature. I concentrate on the design, lines, shapes, patterns and also on the lighting in my images. I try to make my image clutter free, to give full justice to the vision of the new architects. I require my clientèle to feature those who understand this vision and like the artistic way in which I shoot buildings and interiors.
Your main focus is interiors, design and architecture. Could you tell us a little about how you typically work on a project –modeling, lighting, materials and software etc.
I normally work with architects and real estate clients. I try to meet the architect beforehand to understand his/her vision of the project. I normally take a walk with them around the project as a recce to understand the project and what inspired them to create the space.
Thereafter, I study the light, and check the direction of the sun. I find the morning or evening light to be the best for buildings and exteriors. Sometimes at noon the light gives an interesting look when shooting interiors and sometimes for exterior shots as well. Dusk allows me match the inside of a building and outside, with a very interesting sky.
For Interior photography, I use available light. I don’t feel the need to add any lighting, since I feel a lot of interiors these days are very well lit. If there is a dark area, I document it the way it is because I feel the interior designer may have created that with an idea in mind. Finally, depending on the
look or feel required in the image, I choose the best time during the day.
My equipment is a Nikon D200 with a 17-35mm 2.8 lens for architecture and interior work, along with a Manfrotto tripod for projects. I believe in simplicity when it comes to equipment and let my images do the talking. I use basic Photoshop to enhance my images, to derive the final image.
Architectural photography explores the relationship between the perception of space and the experience of space. Comment
Like I mentioned earlier, I visit the place to understand the aesthetics of the building and the work involved in it. I take the time to comprehend the details, its interiors and how the space is going to be used. Usually I don’t move things around in a space but I try and capture the first thing that catches my eye.
As an Architectural photographer, you need to gain insight about the space and develop a rapport with the architect, since you work as a team. Going through various architectural work from around the world on websites, architecture/interior magazines helps you realize how people work and understand architecture.
I also like to work with old monuments, old churches, temples, etc. for my personal folio. This is where I experiment and try new techniques which I implement in the future for my commercial assignments. I shoot a lot of abstracts and detail shots of buildings as a part of experimentation. Old colonial architecture is a great source of inspiration, having lasted for several decades until this day.
Your creative interpretations have transpired from being purely documentary interaction to including more of an artistic interest in your subjects. How structured are your goals for any given subjects and how do you set upon to achieve a particular result?
There is no shortcut. I have to look into minute details before I take my final shot. I look at the ways in which I can make the image look fresh and different. It could be a different time of the day that will add that extra magic. Nothing can create magic like the different lighting used for interiors such as stained glasses, or the various colors and details used by architects and designers to make their work stand out from the rest.