The Magical Touch In Photography
A man’s future is decided by his intense desire, hard work and dedication. Reji Bhaskar, the celebrity fashion photographer is a perfect example for this. Here is an exclusive interview with this talented photographer.
1. Photography is a field that had gone through several changes and innovations. What do you have to say regarding this?
As a photographer, my greatest luck is my father. He had been serving as a drawing master in a school, and also he had a photo studio. I used to go to his studio from my school, when I was a child. I studied to take photos at my age of thirteen. I have seen the end of black and white photography, colour photography and digital photography. I am fortunate that I have been able to see and experience the revolutionary changes in photography itself. The pleasure that a photographer enjoyed during the time his photos were taken using films was the eagerness of taking a photo and developing it into a print, and the pleasure of seeing it. And then came the digital. Now comes the latest mirrorless camera. This helps us to know what the image will look like before taking the photo. This is indeed very beneficial to the new generation. But, it is doubtfully clear that the experience of those older generations who have been photographed by calculations and ability were the greatest. I believe that experience is the best teacher. Many talented photographers who were not ready to change over time have been faced failures. As far as I am concerned, I am a person who tries to incorporate and apply changes over time.
2. Photography now has the potential to use the vast possibilities for technology. What is your opinion about this?
While there is joy in the growth of technology in photography, I am a little bit doubtful whether the photography is losing its natural beauty. Advertisement photography and general photography are beneficial when it comes to a large medium called Photoshop, but I can’t agree with making many changes for an image through Photoshop. I am of the opinion that Photoshop should only be used to some extent. People’s photography is a unique art, even if the growth of technology is a good thing. If one sees the portrait of someone, he must be able to tell what kind of a person he is. There are also many advantages due to the growth of technology. Mirror less technology allows to get a view of how the photo will look like before it is taken, developed and printed. These all are indeed good. One of the biggest revolutionary thing is the mobile selfie photography. The mobile selfie became popular worldwide in a very short span of time. It should be noted that mobile companies are focusing on new apps and new ways for photography. The whole world is under the surveillance of the camera. It is a fact that a photographer cannot exist if he does not change with time.
3. In your opinion, how much acceptance has been given to fashion and photography, in our present society?
If you go through the era of fashion photography, it was very difficult to get a model, ten or fifteen years ago. Even the students studying fashion designing had many misconceptions regarding the fashion photography. The fashion channel that the people watch those days was the FTV. In that, fashion was just the short-dressed models walking on ramp. A lot has changed since then. Now, there are many fashion designing colleges in Kerala. Misconceptions in people, about modelling have changed to some extent. Nowadays there is no difficulty in getting models. In all my interviews, I am saying this, that modelling is the only job in which you can take your parents along with you. What happens beyond that is quite personal. And the parents’ viewpoint has also changed. I have judged over thirty beauty pageants. I know about six hundred models, and they also knows me. Many have approached me seeking opportunities. Of course, there is no question that the society have accepted fashion and modelling more today than ever before.
4. Among all your works that has been done till now, which is the one that you felt the best done?
While telling about my best photograph, it has two levels. One is personal and the other is professional. In the personal aspect, it is a photo named “Praanan poyittum piriyaatha pranayam” which was published in the newspaper ‘Mathrubhumi’ that has become a sorrow in the heart of readers. It became popular since it has a strong sense of love, rather than the quality of the film. There will never be someone who does not fall in love with someone in their life journey. That photograph won many awards. It was through this picture, that the photographer Reji Bhaskar started gaining popularity. It is also an interesting factor that this photo has been taken with film. Also, as I say in workshops, a photographer’s best picture should be the one that he had taken for the last time. Fortunately or unfortunately this is the best picture of mine till now. Though I have taken many photos that are technically perfect, I can proudly say that “Praanan poyaalum piriyaatha pranayam” is the best.
5. What do you think are the qualities needed for a professional photographer?
Not just a fashion photographer, any photographer should be a good man. Man is the only creature in the world who have the ability to think and act accordingly. The next thing needed is a sense of beauty. Aesthetics is the biggest component of People Photography. While taking a person’s photo, only someone with a sense of beauty will be able to take it in the most beautiful way. There should be observational skills. The success of doing a work depends on certain factors like the lighting, observation of the surroundings etc. Above all, should be a good man.
6. What do you say, if you are judging Reji Bhaskar as a person?
I have not became such a big guy to judge myself. But personally saying, I am someone who does not even know how to make tea. Someone who had ‘spotlight syndrome’ that makes hesitant to talk to people. I had the shortcomings of not learning in English medium. Professionally speaking, I have a feeling that, someone like me, who was born in a rural village in Kerala and studied in a Malayalam medium, have managed to become something today. I have never learned photography in any institutions. I have been the brand ambassador for many large companies like Canon and Nikon. Have conducted more than 100 photography workshops. I am a guest faculty in four fashion designing colleges. Anyways, I , Reji Bhaskar is on the path of achievement.
7. Fashion and modelling areas have more gossips and controversy than any other fields. How do you look at gossips and controversies like MeeToo?
Of course, controversies are always involved in glamor industry. The proverb ‘The Tree That Bears Fruit Will Be Stoned’ is literally right here. And, this is a time of controversy in modelling and cinema. As far as I am concerned, I am not big enough to make an opinion regarding this. But by God’s grace, I have never had to face any gossip personally or professionally till now. Maybe it’s because of the way I treat others. And, we cannot predict tomorrow. And I can’t support a campaign like “MeetToo”. Because we live in a period where there is so much of personal freedom. Also, one has the freedom to do what they like. It is everyone’s right to respond to a bad behaviour. My opinion is that they need to react strongly. As mentioned above, modelling is a field where they can take their parents along with. There will not be a day-long shoot like in the movie industry. Modelling is a job that can be completed in one or two days. I do not agree with the allegations that someone put forward, saying somebody had tried to abuse them years back.
8. Has there ever been an experience in your life that you cannot forget after coming to this area?
Of course, there have been many unforgettable experiences after coming into the photography industry. It was only after I gained some popularity that people recognize, appreciate, and express their love. Before all that, when Mathrubhumi had published the picture “Praanan poyittum piriyaatha pranayam”, a school in Uliyeri (Kozhikode) have conducted a poetry contest on the same subject. I was invited to give away the prizes to the winners. I had arrived one hour late to the function, since I had a shoot on the same day. Everyone was waiting for me, even though I was not a celebrity then. That was the most memorable experience I ever had. There was also a face-to-face session with the children. There was a question that a child asked me about my picture “Praanan poyittum piriyaatha pranayam”. The student asked me, “Is this a noble work of yours? Do you think you can create a work beyond that?” That was a very touching question. The student who raised that question was the winner of the day. All these are unforgettable experiences.
9. What is your reason for choosing fashion and modelling photography, when there are various categories in photography?
This is a very good question. The awards that I have received so far are for photographs related to nature. I have received 5 awards state-wide. However, I am still very much interested in the People Photography. This may be due to my perspective, my aesthetic sense or my fascination towards fashion. It was an area that was beyond my reach as an ordinary village native. This is the reason why I choose fashion and modelling photography.
10. As a celebrity fashion photographer, do you have any commitments towards someone? Who is your role model?
My Guru (teacher) in photography is my father himself. It was from Anil Kumar sir, one of the leading photographers in Kerala that I came to know, experience and learn about the advertising photography and fashion photography. I worked as his assistant for about 10 years. It was Mathew Paul sir, who had introduced Anil Kumar sir to me. He is no more today. It is indeed to these two persons that I am committed in my whole life. My role model is my father himself.