From a nontraditional start in Instructional Design, Indian photographer Rakesh JV currently dedicates his weekends to roaming the streets of Bangalore and beyond, capturing vivid moments of everyday life. After first earning a degree in Engineering (Electrical and Communications), Rakesh made the transition into street photography, propelled by the motto, "A photograph is usually looked at — seldom looked into."
While juggling a full-time job at Accenture, Rakesh manages to find time to engage with his community through portrait and event photography. Since his start, he has gained recognition on international photography blogs and won awards on several forums and in photography contests.
How did you make the transition from Instructional Designer to part-time street photographer? Would you ever consider doing it full time?
To make a long story short, instructional designing earns me a living, while photography goes much more beyond that. It is a de-stressor after a long, hard week at work. My weekends are completely dedicated to photography. I make it a point to travel at least locally, during weekends. Whether I would do photography full-time, I do not know for now. Maybe sometime in the long run. For now, I do take up commercial assignments when I am free.
Your photos are largely portraits of people's faces and their actions. Why do you think this has this been such a strong focus of your work?
Street photography and street portraiture are genres of photography that have the maximum scope for "story within a picture." I lean heavily towards the latter and I believe it is a style which has the ability to truly connect with a human being, especially someone on the streets. That may boil down to the fact that I love meeting new people. The curiosity about other people, how they live, what goes on in their minds, their emotions are some factors which made me fall in love with photography. For me, it has been a life-changing experience so far.
How do your subjects react to the camera?
People love being photographed. [That] may not sound convincing, but this is true. There is of course an initial hesitation, curiosity, and reluctance. But stay around long enough, and they do open up. That is when you can photograph them the best — when they are being themselves. But there are these rare instances when people do not want to be photographed. At such times, the best thing to do is to offer them your best smile and move on.
Has there ever been a particularly unexpected or memorable moment that has come out of engaging with a community through photography?
Every moment spent in photography is unforgettable for me. I remember each and every photograph I took, the person's reaction to it, and so forth. But some moments remain etched in my memory. One of them was when I printed the photographs of some kids whose pictures I took during an earlier visit. The joy in their eyes when I gave the pictures to them still makes me smile. They invited me into their modest homes and asked me to share supper with them. It was a very, very emotional moment for me.