Photographer G Venket Ram says technology has always been a boon; it’s never been a bane
Ace photographer G Venket Ram, who recently turned EOS ambassador for Canon, tells us how to make a mark in a profession that’s overcrowded with photographers
From humble beginnings of using his dad’s camera for clicking random pictures of nature to dropping out of a private engineering college, G Venket Ram has proven to us that life can not only be captured but even experienced through a lens. This maestro of the camera captures celebrities, food, jewellery, and products; and shoots film promos; you name it, with unparalleled charm. What made Venket a legend in his own right? How does he turn mundane moments into extraordinary frames? We got all of this and more answered when we met Venket recently for an exclusive conversation as he turned EOS (Electro-Optical System) ambassador for Canon.
What does your role as an EOS ambassador for Canon entail?
I’ve been a Canon user for a long time and they approached me to be their ambassador. I’m just endorsing their product, which I’ve been using for over a period of time and I’m happy to be part of the journey.
You used your dad’s camera to take pictures as a hobby. How did it turn into a profession?
In those days, photography was an expensive hobby. Very few people owned a camera because you needed to buy films, you needed to stock films and it’s not like you load a camera with film and just finish all the 36 frames! You are going to keep them to use on special occasions like birthdays, vacations… So you shoot over a period of time and then process. I used a Minolta, a viewfinder camera, which my dad had and he was the one who first taught me the basics. It wasn’t a hobby for me; I used to take pictures because I had to document them. And at that point in time, I didn’t have any idea that it was going to be my profession someday. I was only playing around with the camera.
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Now that we have automatic cameras and smartphones, has technology proved to be a boon or a bane?
Technology has always been a boon; it’s never been a bane. How you use it aesthetically and productively is in your hands. Technology has made things so much easier for people to shoot images on cameras. In fact, that’s the only reason why thousands have taken up photography as a hobby or as a serious profession.
How do you strike a balance between artistic expression and meeting clients’ expectations?
It’s always been a challenging aspect in my life and it will also be in the future because when it comes to clients, they’re very particular about how they want to sell a product, but the photographer as an artist will want to make it look artistic. So, what’s needed is a fine balance, which, of course, is very difficult to achieve, because while the client will want the product to look perfect, as a photographer, I want to play around with light; and I really don’t care whether every edge of the product is seen or not; I am more focused on giving it a dreamy effect.
Tell us about any challenging project that really pushed your limits…
I remember years back, we were doing a summer fashion shoot at the beach with actor Vishal. We had some beach accessories; we went for this real sunny feel where Vishal was in Bermuda shorts, holding the surfboard and walking towards the sea. But when we reached the place, I completely changed the whole idea. I turned it into a gloomy shoot, using artificial lights. In fact, we shot the whole day, and we under-exposed the backdrop, so it looked very surreal. I still show those images as an example at a lot of seminars and workshops and I tell upcoming photographers to never give up.
You left engineering to pursue photography...
After getting into engineering, it didn’t really interest me because it was too technical. I was already going to the second year when something struck me, and I thought I should get into a visual medium. I made up my mind and quit engineering.
What do you think are essential skills a photographer should possess?
Earlier, it was about the hardware of the camera, but now everything is taken care of. There are thousands of photographers now who can shoot, so how are you going to differentiate yourself from those thousand of others who are shooting with the same kind of camera, using the same software, and almost the same kind of setups and models? That’s what photographers need to focus on.
Despite your demanding field, you look really fit. What’s the secret?
Photography is a very physically draining profession. It’s strenuous on your back and legs. So, I realised I need to really keep myself fit to do my job better. I am talking about basic fitness — cardio and a little bit of gym. You can earn as much as you can, but if your health goes for a toss, then everything is a waste.