By Sukant Deepak
New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS): It has been a long journey -- from spending time at his uncle's photo studio as a teenager during his vacations to winning the prestigious Rs 12 lakh Serendipity Arles Grant, South Asia's largest grant for lens- based practitioners, for his work 'Town Boy' recently.
When Purushothaman Satish Kumar was gifted a point and shoot film camera by his uncle, he would always carry it with him to school picnics and cricket grounds to shoot the game, his friends and surroundings.
"Since then I have been following the same process. The major shift started taking place after I started visiting photo festivals and workshops in India and other parts of Asia. Slowly, photography became my medium to express all the experiences in my life," says Kumar, stressing that the news of the grant came as a major surprise as all the shortlisted grantees boasted of a strong and unique body of work.
The jury initially had shortlisted 10 practitioners from hundreds of applications, across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
For someone who does not explore any specific themes, but keeps working intuitively -- recording his time, surroundings and experiences, Kumar feels that over time, the photographs come together finding their own shape and form.
Adding that in India, choosing photography as a career can be a real challenge as one has to earn a living through commercial assignments and put in his/her own money to create personal works. "These kinds of grants are rare. It would be really helpful if there were more such grants for photographers in India."
Kumar feels that the country needs more photography training institutes as there were hardly any when he started working, and the situation is still the same. "I was lucky to have a strong support from my peer group. Also, In the last few years many new photo festivals have been created across India. They have been instrumental in improving and expanding my practice."
Adding that it was important that children be introduced to the art form at the school level, Kumar says, "It would help them read and understand images from a young age. It is heartening to see many of the festivals now have workshops for children as a part of their programme."