Vikas Vasudev is a phenomenal photographer, though I’m sure you can see that for himself. His work is gripping, captivating the dignity and beauty of human life, and as vibrant in its depiction of the human condition as in the rich land the subjects inhabit.
I’m an occasional photographer/filmmaker, fulltime procrastinator based out of Mumbai, India.
How did you get into photography? In what ways is photography superior to other artistic media? In what ways is it inferior?
I literally stumbled into it in college when I gatecrashed a photography workshop meant for the art students, which I wasn’t. Eventually, the guy who was taking the workshop, took a liking to me started lending me his SLR to fuck around. I don’t believe in one medium being superior to another. It’s just a means to an end. Photography is one of the tools that I stumbled into, through which I document the map of my own mind. Although I really don’t think it’s even close to as powerful as Literature or Cinema.
What is your favorite number?
Don’t have one.
With the increasing prevalence and quality of digital cameras do you think film will eventually disappear?
Of course it will, There are already relatively very few photographers who use film as their primary medium. The Majority of this new wave of photographers, who have picked up the camera in the last 5 years, have never or hardly ever shot on film, and I don’t see a reason why, i think it’s a good direction we’re headed in, it has helped in the democratization of the medium.
What kind of after effects do you use in your work? Do you think alteration of a photograph changes the character of the photograph, the soul of the photograph?
My post production process is extremely simple, I mainly convert my raws well, and add some “curves”, that’s about it really.
Digital manipulation of an image and altering it, is a gray area. I think an artist should use all the tools available at his disposal at that point of time, to create his vision in the best way possible, which is as long as it is his/her own personal selective vision, and not a documentation of anything other than his own mind. Whether it retains character or not ends up completely depending upon the artist’s ability to communicate and bring attention to his vision rather than the process. The minute the process is seen too much, an artist’s vision becomes redundant.
But when photographs are used to document a particular moment in time, and is supposed to be nothing other than a documentation of that particular Person, place or thing, in such a situation altering the physical elements in a picture is the biggest artistic/moral crime one can commit.
What is Baltistan like? What was it like to travel there? How much do you think the average yearly income is there? How much is the camera you were using worth? How do you respond to those ideas?
Baltistan is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to. I don’t think or respond to such ideas of money and income. Money is never an accurate measure of things, its important, but the universal truth is that it’s never the most important thing in peoples lives, you realize this in greater depth when you grow up in a place like India, where the income disparity is
huge within ones immediate surroundings, but what you learn to realize is that it really doesn’t matter. What matter’s most to everybody universally is how good their immediate emotional environment is, whether he lives in a urban $ 100 million home, or in a remote rural region In the mountains.
How did you get around when you were traveling in Ballistan? What are the roads like there? The photographs of Ballistan tell of a beautiful landscape, how did it feel being surrounded by such beauty? How did it
feel when you left?
Since Baltistan is a very sensitive border region and mainly Army occupied, the roads there are really good. I remember being extremely surprised by the quality of the roads in a region as remote as this. The Landscape in Baltistan is spectacular, although the immediate physical beauty of landscapes and places don’t fascinate me much. What I always look for is the spiritual beauty of places, not spirituality in a religious sense. It’s the people of any place, that form this spiritual beauty, it’s their collective energies that engulf a stranger in it’s magic, and this place was overflowing with magic, it was a surreal experience to be so far out in the middle of nowhere but still feel at home.
Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been? How do you feel, emotionally, in a city? How do you feel differently when you’re in nature?
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to was on a expedition I was on last year, through the remote mountain pass, deep in the heart of this region called Zanskar. I need the city as much as I need nature. They’re interdependent for me. I always need one to appreciate the other, otherwise you loose perspective.
What are you working on now? What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’ve mainly been busy with commercial assignments. I want to hit the road soon, and concentrate more on my personal work.
Who are some photographers who have influenced you? What about their work do you find particularly impressive?
I’ve been mainly influenced by literature and Cinema. That’s where I go to, for inspiration. But I admire Steve McCurry, Raghu Rai and Anders Petersen a Lot.
What is the most awesome thing you’ve done this month?
Ripped the protective cover off my Iphone screen. I like living life on the edge.