Interview with Anil Sud, Canada - Vision and life


Anil Sud - Canada

1. Anil, you traveled several remote areas of our planet, for example Antarctica, Alaska, Namibia or Cuba. These countries are very different in regard to cultural or regional aspects. What kind of area do you prefer? Are there photographically based criteria for selecting your next destination?

I don't really have a specific preference for any particular region that I travel to.  Each location has its unique selling points which serve as an invitation to explore.  In some locations, its the people.  India is a land of contrasts - unbridled wealth next to abject poverty, fast tracked 21st century living next to areas of subsistence farming.  It is a kaleidoscope of color and a billion faces to photograph.  Other areas like Antarctica and Alaska draw me in to their pristine beauty.  I love Death Valley, California for the starkness of the landscape and the beautiful flowing lines in the Mesquite Sand Dunes.  I'm travelling to Chicago later this year to experience the wonders of its modern day skyscrapers and architectural gems.  Namibia served me as a great location to experience wildlife on safari.   

At pretty much every location I've travelled to, something has intrigued me beckoning a return visit. There are no specific criteria in selecting a particular destination.  If there is photographic potential in an area, then I'm good to go.

2. Please tell us something about your Alaska trip. You've been there with one of the most popular landscape photographers of our time, Marc Adamus. Why is it more advantageous to travel with an experienced guide? How are you able to find your own creative ways alongside other photographers?  

Last summer I completed a 2 week tour of Alaska with Marc Adamus. It turned out to be one of the best adventure travel trips I've ever participated in.  Just being there and experiencing the unique beauty of that part of the continent was a wonderful experience. Although this was a photography based tour, making pictures was almost like icing on the cake. We had the opportunity to do doors-off helicopter shooting, kayaking around glaciers, and exploring ice caves. While one could probably do some of these activities solo, having a guide to look after all of the logistical arrangements as well as pre-scout areas for photographic potential was a real time saving asset, and allowed the focus to remain on image making. A good tour guide should be extremely knowledgeable about local weather conditions and how they will impact shooting opportunities. As well, contingency arrangements should be in place if things go awry to maximize the probability of success. Marc is skillfully adept in all of these aspects and has the remarkable ability to improvise on the fly should the need arise.

When photographing in a group, it can be a real challenge not to be overly influenced by what other participants are photographing. It`s important to remind myself to stay focused on how a scene is unfolding and look inwards as to what my emotional response to it is. Looking over one's shoulder to see what other photographers are discovering is counter-productive to remain true to my vision. After all, the resulting image should not be a carbon copy or imitation of someone else's vision, but rather a reflection of the connection between the artist and the subject.

3. Your photographic style is very unique. You seem to see the world in a different way. How did you find your individual approach?

That's a good question to which I don't really have an answer. To be different is not a conscious effort on my part. From my perspective, the images I create aren't particularly different than what I see other people doing. I think its like asking someone if they see the colour blue the same way as I do.  It is what it is.

Experience the Music Project

4. Your pictures often show some major elements: color, lines and a meaningful subject. Please tell us something about your technique. When is a picture a good picture in your eyes?

I'm not a very technical person in photographing or in post-processing. Simplicity is a common thread through the vast majority of my images although this is something I'm trying to move away from. Colour, line, and design are paramount to me in an image. It`s what attracts my eye to a certain scenario playing out in front of the camera and I get giddy when all of those elements are coming together within the frame. Technical quality of the image and following or breaking the rules of composition are secondary considerations for the most part. The ultimate barometer is the emotional impact a scene is having on me, and if I am conveying that to the viewer effectively.

5. What`s your greatest source of inspiration? Do you also like other arts like literature or painting?

There isn't any single source of inspiration for me although there are many avenues where I derive it from. I have assembled a large collection of photographic books ranging through a whole host of genres: fashion, sports, photojournalism, travel, wildlife, and landscape. It is a very diverse collection thematically yet all represent excellence in their respective fields. Although I may never venture into a particular genre, much can be learned from studying the work of accomplished photographers in these publications.

Music plays a very important role for inspiration as well and my musical tastes are extremely broad.

6. What do you think about creativity? How important is creativity for yourself and for human beings in general?

Creativity is paramount to our existence and its what separates us from lower species on the planet. To me, a life without creativity is a life not lived. I'm fortunate to have been nurtured to express my creativity from a very young age. Early on, I was involved with music, dance, and various visual arts but as a teenager, I discovered my true creative expression in the photographic arts. Creativity can certainly be expressed in many ways, not just the arts.  

One of my favourite examples can be illustrated from the TV shows "Dragon's Den" and "Shark Tank". They showcase entrepreneurs who have developed an innovative solution to a problem because they removed themselves from conventional thinking, and applied their knowledge and ingenuity in a creative way. Creative expression isn't limited to something that one puts a frame around to hang on the wall.

7. One can observe a huge interest in landscape photography and nature in general. Do the people yearn for the untouched and wild as a contrast to our modern urban life? What do you think about it, Anil?

There certainly does seem to be a general underlying movement to forge a greater connection with the natural world and escape from the hustle and bustle of a modern and hurried way of urban life.  While I respect those that feel the need to be removed from an urban environment, I do have a certain degree of pity on those who fail to see the beauty of urban living.  It is amazing how the various systems of an urban environment - sky scrapers and traffic flow, commercial development, communication infrastructure all come together to make a system that works.  Beauty can also be observed in such interconnected relationships.

Don't get me wrong - I enjoy pristine landscapes as much as anyone else but I also appreciate the charm of a hillside dotted with wind turbines gently rotating in the breeze or a city skyline superimposed over a flaming red sunset.  To embrace one, and fully reject the other is setting oneself up for heartache.

8. Let`s talk about another essential of our modern times, the social network. How important is social networking for having a chance to communicate with a wider range of people? What about its influence on arts?

I'm not a big participant in this field but have mixed feelings about the impact of social media. On the one hand, it has exposed me to a whole world of talented artists that I would otherwise never be aware of. This serves as a fabulous source for inspiration and facilitates ease of communication. It allows me to share selected works online which hopefully resonate with other artists. These would otherwise be relegated to collecting dust tucked away in the dark corners of my hard drive.

On the other side of the coin, it can be overwhelming if I allow myself to compare my work with hugely talented artists who have massive social media followings. I, for one, try to avoid getting caught up in the allure of social media popularity. The other downside of social is the barrage of content that keeps growing daily. The pressure to keep scrolling means that one ends up sacrificing quality for quantity. I never seem to find enough time to pause and fully enjoy an image because there is always more to experience just around the corner.

9. Our pictures often have their own anecdotes and stories. Could you please tell us the story of a very personal picture with a meaning for yourself.

When I was on Cuverville Island in Antarctica a few months ago, I witnessed this scene of a solo penguin facing the huge rock cliff wall.  The contrast between the penguin in isolation against the monolithic backdrop reminded me of the story of David and Goliath...this tiny creature taking on the world.  As I observed the penguin's gesture, it felt like the scene was a visual metaphor for our tiny existence in the universe and the huge obstacles we face in order to survive.  Despite the massive challenges, we still carve out our existence.

Cuverville Island, Antarctica

10. Final Question: This project is called "Vision and life". What do the terms "vision" and "life" mean for you, Anil?

For me, the terms vision and life are intertwined. Vision is the guiding force that defines the pathway of our existence. Life is the speed bumps that our vision helps us to navigate around.

February 2018

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