Stuck in a job you don’t like and want to work for yourself? What’s keeping you from living the dream? We continue to explore the path of seven Loop creatives who have taken their skills out into the freelancing workforce and what’s helped them get there. As a recent RMIT graduate, Anu Kumar is an upcoming photographer we’ve got our eye on:
1. Why did you get into photography and what influenced you to set out as a freelancer?
After I left school I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do, in fact, I never really picked up a camera until I was 20. It was around then I decided to go to India and Nepal for five months to “find myself” where I ended up taking hundreds of black and white photos with my Canon 550D. There was this moment when I was walking down a street in Nepal when I came across an elderly man and his young grandchild. I asked if I could take their picture, he started laughing, and then his grandchild laughed even harder. It was so lovely to capture that joy, and I remember thinking that it would be great to do this for the rest of my life.
2. How did you come about freelancing for Getty Images shooting for titles such as The Age & The Financial Review?
One of my professors at University was impressed with a few assignments I’d submitted to her class, so she set up an interview with Leigh Henningham, a picture editor at The Age. A week later I had a month long internship set up. In the first week of the internship I took some candid shots at the Royal Botanic runway open-air fashion show that really caught the eye of the editors. It was actually the first thing I ever got published. After that, they decided to keep me on professionally. It’s been a real privilege working there and it’s really accelerated my development as a photographer.
3. Can you talk us through your process of going out and photographing someone you’ve never met or worked with before?
I think it’s really important to remember that most people are very nervous about getting their picture taken and it can be a very intimidating experience. I often start with general chitchat so I can put them at ease and feel out their character. That way the resulting image better represents who they are as a person. On the other hand, there are people who will try to tell you how to do your job which can be quite frustrating. Times like these, I have to assert myself and have confidence in my abilities.
4. Who would you say has been your biggest creative influence?
Dayanita Singh. Her photographs are taken predominantly in India with a medium format camera which convinced me to start using a medium format camera myself. I love looking through her work because she’s been photographing India since the 80’s. It’s the India that I never got to see the way my parents did. I feel very grateful to her for documenting that time and providing me with so much inspiration.
5. What do you love about Melbourne?
I love how so much happens here. There are just so many diverse pockets I have yet to explore. I capture cultures through my work, and I feel very lucky to live in a city that’s home to so much diversity. Melbourne is home and I’ve really become comfortable shooting here. I feel like it’s easier to avoid clichés shooting in your hometown.
6. Can you show us a picture taken from your favourite camera?
My favourite camera is the Yashica 124g mat. It’s a medium format camera that I hold at waist level. I love shooting this way because I can maintain eye contact with the subject, which I find adds another dimension to the photograph. This photo I took of a bookshop owner in Turkey.
7. You’ve got a great eye for when you’re out on the road, what four places most inspire you?
I’ve been working on an ongoing project called Barefoot that documents a family and their three young children who are home schooled. They live in a lovely house that sits on a vineyard in TarraWarra. I feel very calm when I’m there, and taking pictures comes naturally to me.
My house in India. It’s a small town 2 hours from Delhi called Ghaziabad. My grandparents, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and some strangers live under the one roof. I love it there and try and visit once a year. This will forever be my favourite place to take pictures.
This is a strange one, but I love living rooms, especially ones with big windows. I love how much someone’s living space tells you about a person. I particularly enjoy taking pictures of younger people in their parent’s living room because often you’ll find they’ve had no input in the décor of their home.
I am very inspired by types of communities. I’ve photographed circuses, religious groups, places where people congregate for a purpose.