Priyesh Balakrishnan is a passionate photographer who dotes on the fields of Product and Documentary Photography. Ask him to tell you why his interests lie here, and he has a rather moving response to share. “Product and Documentary photography is where my primary interest and specialization lies primarily because I find these two genres the most challenging. All photography needs to tell a story, a requisite that presents itself as rather a challenge in these two genres. In product photography, the ability to tell a story and make the viewer want – no – scratch that – desire that lifeless cold object- that is the stuff magic is made of. On paper Documentary photography sounds easier. However, it is far from that easy.”
Priyesh’s inspiration for photography begins from within. He has been, what he defines, a raconteur all his life, with a restless spirit. Priyesh firmly believes that the world is filled with wondrous stories just waiting to be discovered. These are stories so powerful, so beautiful it reminds one of how wonderful it is to be human! “Over the years I found myself chasing and documenting these stories, from hill to valley, from beach to burning desert sands. Pictures being worth a thousand words and all, I gravitated towards photography to help me tell these stories. What started as a tool to tell a story became a passion, a passion that became a way of life,” he explains.
Anyone can record a moment in time, but to take that moment and turn it into a striking visual that people care about, feel for and believe in, is something else. Doing just that gives Priyesh goose bumps – the very essence of acting to turn a fixed moment in time into the beginnings of a story that enthralls him. To him, therefore, photography is the art of making the world a little bit smaller. “Caught up in the everyday, sometimes our world shrinks to a square cubicle. If an image can inspire someone to step out rediscover himself and discover the world, If a photograph can make you laugh, cry, hate or lust; Then it has done its job, making your world just that much more richer. That, to me is the spirit and essence of photography!” he explains succinctly.
Waking up in the morning is all the motivation Priyesh needs. “I wake up; look out those French windows and I see a world ripe with stories, stories that speak to your pain and your hope. Stories that need to be told. And I truly believe it is my calling to capture those stories with my camera for eternity.”
He currently has a 550D that he has had forever and a 5D Mark III that he has recently acquired. The 550D is still his daily go-to camera. Other than that, his gear consists of 2 Elinchrome 500s, a 18-55mm, a 50mm 1.8, and a 10-22mm. The rest is pulled in as and when necessary. He explains the dynamics of photography and equipment. “For Product photography, you can’t go wrong with the 50mm prime 1.8, unless you can get your hands on a 50mm 1.4. For Landscape photography, I swear by the 10-22, and the 16-35mm. They are both light on the wallet and light in your hands. You get some great width with the 16-35, and both have great definition in both the foreground and background of the image.”
Looking at phone photography, Priyesh says that the whole Phone versus DSLR debate is incredibly polarizing. “But I will say this… photography is about telling a story! If you believe you are destined to write the Great Novel of this decade; does it really matter if we use a pen or a laptop?” Priyesh is quite excited with what he has seen being achieved by Drone Photography. He would love to do an entire series with a drone.
Of his repertoire, his favourite photograph was one that documented a real story. “Okay, so this photograph was taken while I was on assignment in Jaipur with a Mumbai based NGO , documenting their mission of bringing solar lamps to the furthest regions of the country. Now, technically, this might not be the perfect photograph. However for me this image represents everything I love about a good photograph- the color, the emotions , the story which begs to be told.”
He leaves aspiring photographers with some poignant thoughts. “Let me get real here for a second, guys… forget the whole fascination with getting the latest gear all the darn time. Yes good equipment is important, but remember, it is a skilled craftsman that makes the most exquisite art. Focus on honing your skills. There will always be better gear, make yourself a better photographer. How? Learn to ‘See’, look for the energy and the story behind the visual. And just keep shooting!”