Capturing love & more

Capturing love & more

Endearing portraits

Capturing love & more
Portrait and Event Photography (PEP) Asia is the first ever Asia-level photography conference. It is a community initiative to elevate learning in photography. At the recent summit in Mumbai, Sri Lankan-born photographer Siva Haran was one of the international speakers. Siva grew up in Canada, finished college and graduate school there. He is now an established photographer who focuses on weddings. Part of the ‘Fearless Photographers’ (a professional wedding photographers directory of the world’s best wedding photographers), he was named one of the ‘Top 10 Canadian Wedding Photographers’ in the world. Excerpts from an interview:

How did your interest in photography begin?
I got into photography as a child. I think I had a toy camera, and I was playing around with it. And then, when I was in high school, my uncle got me a camera — I got around to clicking pictures of whatever I could see. It was only when I was in university did I actually decide that I was going to take this up as more than a hobby. And I actually went out and bought a camera that was an SLR and started shooting. So, I guess my inspiration was just looking at other photographers through books and the National Geographic magazine. And just like every other kid, you look into the magazine and feel like ‘Oh, I want to shoot like that,’ — that’s how I started.

What kind of photography did you begin with, and why?
When I first started, I shot mostly portraits. I would just take pictures of my friends, colleagues, models etc. So, I had a very good grasp of posing, lighting etc. I think that’s how I got professional with it.

You quit your corporate career to pursue photography full-time. Tell us about it.
I am a cancer survivor. When I was affected, I was planning on quitting my job. I had gone through hell. I had had a great career until then, so I was like, ‘Okay, this is it’. And then, I became a photographer because I wanted to do something that I wouldn’t do for free and make it my career as well. When I started photography, I did it because I enjoyed taking photos. Soon after, I realised that I enjoyed connecting people with the photos I take. So, it ended up being less about me and what I really wanted to do and more about the people I work with. And now, I am extremely happy that I quit my job because I would not have found that innovation otherwise. When I took that leap of faith, I never imagined that I would be successful.

What made you become a wedding photographer? Tell us about your methods and thought process.
As a wedding photographer, the best part is that you get to be an ‘everything photographer.’ And the only place where I could make money and be an ‘everything photographer’ was in weddings. Doing one particular aspect would have been okay, but I was interested in ‘everything’.

Could you elaborate on the genre and work of ‘Fearless Photographers’?
The work of ‘Fearless Photographers’ is about keeping things fresh, trying to find a fresh perspective and putting moments first. So, the whole idea behind a ‘fearless photographer’ is that you have conventional style photography, and you have to say stuff that you want to; but, at the same time, there should be a professional way of looking at it, pushing the creative boundaries. Sometimes, it’s just doing it for the creative sake of art, but most of it is something that could make you look at that photo and create something that is incredible in itself.

What advice do you have for those who aspire to take up photography as a full-time business?
You have to ask yourself — ‘Do you want to be a photographer because it seems easy to get into, and everybody else is doing it, and you also believe you can? Or, do you believe that you can add value to something’? You want to be a photographer because everything that you are doing is based on who you are as a person and not because you can simply set up a camera and shoot. Everyone can do that, but at some point, they will hit a wall. So, if you want to get into it full time and be successful, you will have to do it in an honest and authentic way.

What was it like to be named one of the Top 10 photographers of the world?
To be honest, I don’t really think it to be anything special, because it happens.
The way I look at it is that it doesn’t make me anymore special, but everybody else who does something truly valuable. So, when I think about it, yes, it opens some doors for me. It did give me some new opportunities, but it didn’t make me a better person.

Any stand-out experiences in your career till date? Also, how are Indian weddings different from weddings abroad?
Indian weddings are not different where I am. Yes, there are certain parts of it that are slightly more westernised; but, for the most part, much of what we do for an Indian wedding is actually imported from India. I’ve shot quite a lot of weddings, but the most stand-out experiences always have been when my colleagues and I get to do something that is just for us. I’ve had incredible opportunities to travel and have been to Iceland, Italy, Morocco and 30 other countries just for photography. Many times, I am with them for three to five days, and we really connect and get to know each other, and they becomes lifelong memories.
A stand-out experience was when I shot my wife’s best friend’s wedding, because the experience was like with a friend than with a client. In fact, that is how it has been with most of my clients — where we are more like friends, and those who stay close to me have stayed close to me for a very long time.

What’s next for you?
I am focusing on connecting people via photography, making it a tool that allows you to be present with the things that you love. We lead such fast-paced lives that we don’t take a moment to appreciate what we already have in our lives. My role is to kind of set you up with something that you can look up to everyday, that will remind you of the thing that you love: to create a small piece of an art on your wall, or maybe a small album to keep with you, or maybe just a portrait to carry around. I want to go back to the time when photography was meant to be a tool that connected you with somebody. That is what I really want to focus on for the rest of my career — bringing people together.