HYDERABAD: Sumanaspati Reddy is not your average All India Radio employee from Adilabad who is happy with his eight-hour job as Programme Head. Instead, he makes time for documentary photography, which he says has been “thrusted upon” him by his friend 20 years ago. Now, he still looks around to capture the real life within the various cultures in his leisure. Besides photography, his vast interests include literature, modern art, cinema, and list of other talents.
He was in city to exhibit his photographs that portray cultural diversity of Telangana as found in Adilabad. About 18 of his photographs are on display till April 22 at NTR Grounds, Indira Park Road at Hyderabad Fest 2018. While one photograph shows Batukamma wherein only the flowers are a burst of colours, but the two middle-aged sari clad women are in black & white, the other is an aerial shot of a bullock cart in motion. Every photograph captures the human spirit. Excerpts .
What does a beautiful photograph mean to you?
Beauty is really complex, it can come with anything, even something dirty in a certain sense. Like, you can take a great picture of a filthy slum. It is all about an interesting arrangement within a frame that makes an interesting statement and this can be said about any art piece. The principles that apply to art also apply to a good photograph. All of them depict a statements of life. The achievement of a photographer is that he does what a painter or a sculptor does within a matter of few days or a few weeks, in a split second.
Most photographers have inspirations that keep them moving forward, what is yours?
I got into photography a little later. All other artistic interest of mine, must have come into this, obviously,no art can survive on its own. If you have to be a good photographer you got to know something about art.For photographers, literature could be great inspiration, for literary people cinema could be a great inspiration. Within photography, of course, Raghu Rai has always been an inspiration. I think he is the most remarkable documentary photographer that India has produced. Moreover, digital age has made accessibility to an artist’s work easier than ever, so there is no limit for inspiration, you get as much as you want.
How have you coped with the transition in the technology and tools of photography through all these years?
The digital age has made a photographer a better artist. In those days, unless you had your own dark room and you knew how to process a photograph, you had to depend on someone. I stopped clicking pictures for a while as to develop and print them was dependent deal and the quality was so bad.
If you clicked the picture with one idea, during developing and processing the picture, it would totally change. It was disastrous. I have not printed any of my photographs in the last ten years. Today, you get to do most of your work on your own. Neither does it need great skill as the tools are so developed and advanced. The photographers today, have most of the process in their control, except the printing part, of course. The details of a digital photograph are so satisfying. It is a saving grace.
Technology has made advancements accessible, so much that every body who has got a camera can claim to be a photographer. Where do you think the line should be drawn between skill and fun?
We all learn language, not all of us are writers. We all have cameras and click pictures, but there also exist an artistic side of photography, just as there is an artistic use of language , that creates the skill of a photographer. Now, there is a big challenge to be skillful in photography, to take a photograph that is meaningful, that strikes a chord in you.
You have been engaged in documentary films and documentary photography lately.
In the 50s and 60s, the great masters of documentary photography said that “the moment is what matters”. To capture the right moment is crucial and it is what defines a picture. It could be some moment of life that tells you something like a story. Such stories is what I look for in a photograph. That timing is what makes it so real.