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WWVD? In Conversation with Vinesh Kumaran

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand.

This week we spoke to freelance photographer Vinesh Kumaran. Vinesh works both as a commercial photographer and as a photographer in a freelance capacity for artists. Read more for What Would Vinesh Do?

How long have you been a freelance photographer and how did it all begin?

In my final year in the Bachelor of Visual Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology, we had a guest speaker come in to talk about commercial photography. It was there I discovered what commercial/advertising photography was and the role of the photographer’s assistant. I realized this was what I wanted to do.

I started working in the photography industry straight after art school – so since 2004. At first I was working as a photographer’s assistant for about 8 years. Within the last two years I have been freelancing as an independent photographer shooting for my own clients.

What does the day of a freelance photographer look like?

Depending on the type of job I’m working on, the days or weeks leading up to a shoot involves a lot of preparation and organizing. This includes meetings with the client, discussing the brief and the basics of finding talent, location, organizing gear, assistants and make up artists.  It could also mean most importantly providing the food to feed the crew.

Your type of work means you are constantly on the go taking a diverse range of photographs. What is your favourite kind of work?

I specialize in portraiture and I love taking portraits as I get to meet some interesting people. A good portrait for me is one that captures the person’s personality.

What is the most memorable project you’ve been a part of?

While working as a freelance assistant there were many memorable projects I was involved in. I was working alongside a number of top commercial photographers, which allowed me to travel to a number of places including Beijing, Kenya and Papua New Guinea

Relying on photography for a living can’t always be easy, do you have downtime and if so what do you do to get through?

There is a bit of downtime between jobs but one way of filling the void is to work on my personal projects. Recently I have started a project on instagram where I take a portrait a day of someone I have never met before. Make sure you follow me @vkumaran.

You’ve taken photographs for renowned artists such as Tanu Gago and Ema Tavola, where does the role of the artist or art director end and the role of the photographer begin?

My role as a photographer does require me to collaborate with other artists/clients.  In commercial photography, you’re always working alongside the client (art director) who has an initial idea or concept. As the photographer, I’m required to create the image with feedback from the client.

Do you see yourself as an artist?

Yes. My ongoing personal projects such as the Dairy Series, the Sugar Cane Portraits and more recently the Instagram project have all helped to develop me as an artist. The future plans for these projects are to exhibit or publish them.

Lastly do you have any words of advice for those wanting to get into freelance photography?

The industry is very competitive and it’s not for the fainthearted. Persistence and routine is the key. I started in the industry by making coffee and topping up parking meters. You have to be willing to put in the hard work.

From the portrait a day instagram series @vkumaran "John Ward Knox, 30 yld, from Freemans Bay Auckland. Multi media artist and part time tutor at Unitec, John teaches fine art. "The students do worry about having a sustainable career as artists."

From the portrait a day instagram series @vkumaran
“John Ward Knox, 30 yld, from Freemans Bay Auckland. Multi media artist and part time tutor at Unitec, John teaches fine art. “The students do worry about having a sustainable career as artists.”

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