'A bad photographer can make performer look inadequate'

'A bad photographer can make performer look inadequate'

Srivatsa Shandilya is a performing arts photographer who has worked with prominent Sandalwood stars

Srivatsa Shandilya is a performing arts photographer, who specialises in taking multiple exposure photographs. Shandilya had decided to follow the footsteps of his father K Ramachandra, who worked as a photographer with Karnataka Film Development Corporation, at a young age. However, he pursued a degree in Computer Science from BMS College of Engineering before he made the plunge. 

Over the past 35 years, he has worked as a freelance photographer for magazines, newspapers, and has even clicked portraits of most major Sandalwood actors. Metrolife caught up with the artiste to find out more about his work, the shift from analogue to digital cameras, challenges, and more. 

When did you decide to pursue photography as a career?

I was always passionate about it, because of my father. When I was in the 10th grade, I also discovered an interest in magazines, especially tech magazines. I pursued my degree in Computer Science and then decided to work as a photographer. My first job was with the IDG group and I slowly began to freelance. Deccan Herald was the first publication to publish my work. 

Tell us more about your work with the stars of Sandalwood.

I have worked with almost all major Kannada actors. Shiva Rajkumar was the first actor I shot. I have even worked with Shilpa Shetty. I was one of the first to ask stars to have their portraits clicked in a studio. 

Why did you make the shift to performing arts?

I found myself free on weekends. I wanted to keep myself occupied, and that’s how it started. I fell in love with the process, because here it is all about the timing.  You need to be patient enough to wait for that second when the artiste is ending a particular pose. A bad photographer can make the performer look inadequate. Knowing the nuances of the art form also helps in being able to take the right shots. 

Tell us more about your style of photography.

I take multiple exposure photographs. It is challenging, but it is like telling a story through multiple images in a single frame. For me, each image is like a painting because it can’t be recreated. 

Is it an expensive career?

It used to be earlier. You had to invest in film rolls, and wait for days to see how it turned out, and even longer to know if they would even be published. Things have changed considerably thanks to digital cameras and other technological advancements. 

Do you think imagination plays a role in photography?

Photography is all about playing with light and shadow. Imagination allows you to think outside the box, get the right shots and use something as fickle as light to create something. 

What are the challenges you face?

A lot of my work looks like it has been Photoshopped because they are multiple exposure shots. People don’t really understand my work, and it can be quite difficult to make them understand. 

What advice would you give upcoming photographers?

Don’t chase money. Chase your passion. As you perfect your craft, money will come to you. 

What are you working on right now?

I have been granted the Senior Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture on photography. I am working on a project titled ‘On Paint with Light’, which will take me another one and a half years. 

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