Pursuit of excellence embellishes lensman’s creativity

Ganesan’s scenic photography (Photo Supplied)

Dr Malini Yugendran

Auckland, February 23, 2023

Meet Madhana Gopal Ganesan, a talented photographer based in New Zealand, whose Instagram handle is visualstories.co.nz. Mr Ganesan was born and bred in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India and has been a professional photographer since 2007. He moved to New Zealand five years ago. In this interview with Indian Newslink, he shares insights into his journey, challenges, and successes as an ethnic minority photographer.

Inspiration and Expertise

When asked about what inspired him to become a photographer and how he got started in the field, Mr Ganesan reminisced about his first camera experience with his brother’s camera, “it was an Olympus Mju II, and the year was 1999.”

“I started taking photographs of people on the street and moved on to making them the subjects of photography,” said Mr Ganesan. His first paid gig came only after eight years in 2007. Mr Ganesan explains, “the opportunity to showcase my work arose as soon as Facebook came into existence.”

Mr Ganesan said that navigating the photography industry in New Zealand is a common challenge for all photographers, regardless of whether they belong to an ethnic minority or not. “I think Auckland has become so diverse, that if your work speaks for itself, you could possibly tap into any ethnic group irrespective of your background. Of course, word by mouth works the best and collaborating with existing models work too,” he said.

Ganesan shot this photo applying the rule of thirds (Photo Supplied)

Mr Ganesan’s cultural background has played a significant role in shaping his visual approach and knowledge of colours. He mentioned that he draws inspiration from film photography and Indian movies. “The one thing I do not shy away from is bright colours,” which he credits to his cultural background.

Mr Ganesan follows the rule of thirds, also known as the golden ratio, when telling his subject’s stories through his photography.

The Rule of Thirds is a basic guideline in photography and other visual arts that helps to create a balanced and visually interesting composition. The guideline divides an image into nine equal parts by drawing two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, creating a grid of nine rectangles. The four intersection points of these lines are where the subject or objects of interest in the image should ideally be placed. The idea is to avoid placing the subject in the center of the image, which can be less visually appealing and create a more static composition.

He added, “If it’s a portrait, I make sure the eyes speak volumes.”

Mr Ganesan has a special attachment to a series of photographs he took in 2015 during the Chennai floods, which were caused by unprecedented heavy rainfall. “In 2015, Chennai had unprecedented rainfall and got flooded. There was no power for ten days and the area I was living in got affected the most. I shot a roll of Kodak documenting the whole recovery and to this date, I hold that series in high regard.”

Ganesan’s still life photography (Photo Supplied)

Art vs Commercial

Balancing artistic vision with the commercial demands of the photography industry can be a challenge. Mr Ganesan tries not to compromise on artistic integrity while shooting commercial projects. “If there is no freedom with backgrounds, I go creative with colours,” he said. “I go creative in frames and compositions if there is no freedom with colours,” he said.

“Sometimes the job needs an artist, and sometimes the job needs a documenter,” he explained.

Mr Ganesan believes that sometimes, simply pausing for a moment and closing your eyes is enough to see the scene for what it truly is. And in conclusion, he said, “for aspiring photographers, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, I would like to quote Anton Ego from ‘Ratatouille’, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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