Interview with Srikanth Kolari, part 2: Photographer is a Messenger…

September 29, 2010

This is the second part of the interview with the photographer Srikanth Kolari. Read the first part here: Colours of India in B&W photography


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

What was your most memorable project you have ever experienced as a photographer?

SK: Every project is special. And I don’t even think of it as a project. I think, and remember all my projects as people. I have learnt so much from being part of these people’s lives. In a way, I believe I am a much better person now, after everything I have gone through, than before when I used to think my life is bad and meaningless… Thanx to each and every photograph I have taken, I have realized, my life is beautiful.


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

The only thing that upsets me is the fact that I can’t help these people alone. I never cared too much about money before, but lately I am forcing myself to love money, to make money, so that I don’t have to beg other people or organizations to help me help someone else… I want to help them myself now… with my own resources. Will see how that goes.


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

Which countries have you travelled to? Which country had the biggest emotional effect on you and why?

SK: I have been only to two countries outside of India (Cambodia and Croatia), but India in itself is truly a subcontinent.  On each 300 km you will encounter different culture, different languages, different skin tones, different rituals. We are talking about more than 6 thousand years of civilization … which other country in the world has 7 main religions living together on the same ground?

Coming from such country, these two countries I have seen outside of India were nice… visually interesting, but nothing was really WOW! for me. I have seen it all. That is why I really want to go to Africa. To the continent where it has all started. I believe Africa will be a mind-blowing for me.


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

You have also experience in photographing dance? What was like to photograph movements in a medium that tries to catch it and make it movable, although being ‘frozen’ at the same time?

SK: To be honest, I never photographed dance. The only dancer I photographed was my partner Maja, and her work. And that’s because I could connect to it. We know each other inside out, and we discuss about our projects always, fight about it, and argue about it… it was again like saying someone’s story.


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

Recently I was asked to photograph one dance performance by a friend of mine, and I ended up with not even one good picture. I just couldn’t connect to it, since I knew nothing about it.  Shooting Maja was easy because I know exactly what her next movement will be, even if she improvises.

I don’t think about my work very scientifically, I get to connect to it or not… and again… it is all about telling someone’s story. Express someone’s and my own feelings.


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

Photographers are really hooked up to their equipment… Which item of equipment would you say is the most important to you?  What kind of gear do you pack when you’re on the road?

SK: Photography is a visual medium. The way you take a picture, and with which lens you take it, very much dictates observers’ point of view. Today is not so easy, since everyone is a photographer… people are so used to seeing photos, clicking their own photos; everyone has a camera on their mobile phone to start with.

So professional photographers these days have to work really hard to shoot a picture that hasn’t been seen already. What I would like to do in the future is to shoot each project with a different lens. But my most favorite one is 50mm (fixed lens).


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

What turns you on creatively? Is it usually a story, or some visual trigger, a documentary film?

SK: It is not at all about my creativity. I am not an artist. I am just a messenger, currier boy, or a middleman. Between those who suffer and the rest of the world. Not that suffering turns me on, but suffering seeks for a messenger.  And I am the one.


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

Photographers are often told that they need to develop a personal style, something characteristic in their visual procédé… What would you mark as your style, or you usually leave it to the viewers or critics to judge?

SK: I don’t bother about the style. And I don’t care if someone will say: “These are good or bad picture.” It is all about how I feel about the subject, and what the people on the photos feel. If I have to shoot the same story again, I would most likely shoot it completely different from the first time I shot it. It all depends about emotions.


Photo: Srikanth Kolari (c)

Who are your influences? I mean, not only in photography, but other arts, too…

SK: When I started with photography, Steve McCarry was the man I looked up to; I still remember his Afghan photos. After him, came Salgado, James Nachwey… I admire the work of Greg Mortenson for instance.

What photographers nowadays you really admire?

SK: James Nachwey, he is the God.

What are your future plans?

SK: As for the future… I don’t have any plans. I’m keeping all my options open.

Thanks a lot Sri!

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