A visual tale

Picture perfect

An imaginative storyteller, Supriya Suriyanarayanan discards words when weaving tales. Instead, she allows her photographs to speak for themselves. They aren’t your usual ‘pretty pictures’ that flood the online space; her frames are an articulate narrative of her travel experiences, the people she’s met and their lives.  

Unlike many, she doesn’t walk around with a bucket list, ticking off places as and when she visits them. She’d rather forego the opportunity to visit a new country than miss the chance to get intimate with one area. “It’s not about how many places I visit but how deeply I can understand the people, culture and values of one place. I’d rather go back to Ladakh and Spiti Valley many more times than somewhere new,” she explains.

Ladakh and Spiti Valley hold a special place in her heart as, she says, these places ‘blew her mind’. “I didn’t like USA that much, though it’s known for its scenic beauty, because it is nothing compared to Ladakh and Spiti Valley.” And she plans to go back this year because, “Most people go to these places to take beautiful pictures but the locals in the pictures never see what has been taken. I want to go back and give them the pictures I took of them and see how they have changed.”

But this doesn’t mean she hasn’t travelled far and wide. In fact, it’s this wanderlust that brought her close to photography. “I bought my first DSLR last year, after I quit my job and decided to travel. As I am married, I couldn’t take six months off at a stretch so I went to different places according to the season.” Supriya lived the Portland for three months, which is when she and her husband explored the West Coast of the US — Portland to Los Angeles — and visited Big Sur, Redwood National and State Parks and more.

Last year, she found herself in different parts of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Cuba, Portugal and most of South-East Asia. “Everywhere except for Laos, which I hope to visit this year. I also want to go to Portugal (again) and Spain.” Narrating a funny incident, she says, “I visited Ladakh with a photography group and while everyone was busy taking pictures, I spent my time talking to the locals. One woman invited me to her house for some ‘chai’ and we started talking about random things. When I told her I like Shah Rukh Khan, she made a face and said she prefers Ajay Devgn. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who likes him that much. She also asked me why I don’t have kids even though I’m married and what I’m doing with my life!”

That wasn’t the first time she was asked ‘what are you doing with your life’. “My family wonders what my husband and I do because we have no savings as such, we spend it all on travel. And this is something I don’t regret. We plan to retire by 45, have two beach side houses and travel!” More of a summer person, she wants to explore the world as much as possible, whenever she can.

But that doesn’t mean she’s going to turn photography into a career. “I love it too much to make it my career. I enjoy taking pictures as it’s not just about the photographs, but the interactions I have with the people in them.” She makes sure she listens to everyone’s stories and gets to know them before memorialising them. Her camera acts as a medium to connect with people of all ages.

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