Vishal RS file photo

In Conversation: Through the lens of Vishal RS

Vishal RS is a documentary photographer and filmmaker hailing originally from a small town in India called Aligarh, though raised most of his life in the metropolitan city of Bengaluru. Being an alumni of the University of Arts London he seems to have
  • How did your interest in the genre start? Were you always interested in journalism, or did you fall into it through by way of photography?
It all started with a plead. To my father for a camera, because I wanted too look busy while I was being an introvert. Little did I realize, I had stepped into a void. First the sun, then the flora, then a lot of fauna and then finally the creative department in my brain was established and soon I started to discover a whole new perspective. As an avid free runner, I started to explore the urban world a little more. Inspired by London’s Urban Explorers, I scaled restricted areas and abandoned places just for the kicks and shot photographs along the way. And then came a moment in my life where I wanted to photograph with purpose. Hunting for stories and capturing them gave meaning to my images. So yeah, I did fall into the world of journalism via photography.
Image by Vishal RS
  • what sorts of images give you pause when you see them? What constitutes a strong image for you?
Every photograph is a strong photograph. I mean we could be poetic about it and turn a simple portrait into a journey across time and space and highlight the beauty of why it was shot and what the photographer was thinking. But at the end of it, some photographs are appealing because of how beautiful the lines in the composition are, some because of its vivid colors and some because of its caption. For me its all of the above. Sure a photograph is worth a thousand words but the process of discovering an image for its colors, forming the geometry around the subject and finally guiding the viewer through your senses with a few lines under the frame. But I guess we all have our ways. 
Images by Vishal RS
  • Images are more powerful than simple text, because they simultaneously boil down and expand things at the exact same time. Why do you think telling stories through images as opposed to text is such an important practice?
I don’t think so at all. Photography, just like any other form of art, is a medium of expression, where beings who can’t seem to convey their perspective try to create a pair of shoes for their audience to step into and walk through their dimension.
  • How much creativity can you as a photographer bring to a scene? How much are you also trying to include your perspective as an eyewitness, as well as your own creative expression into the frame.
To me, it has never been more about what I wanted than what the scene presents itself as. My motive is to capture the moment not to create one.
Image by Vishal RS
  • Is there any particular photograph you’ve shot that you think represents your work and what you’d like to communicate to the world particularly well? Can you tell us about this image details about how and why you shot it?
Only if it were that easy. The one photograph that represents my work has not been shot. I know how obnoxious it sounds but its the same way you’d think about the one score that defines your journey as a sound designer or that one article that defines your journey as a writer. So I don’t yet have the holy grail of my journey as a photographer, but I do look forward to one day having a definite answer for you.
  • How do you decide what is too graphic to show in visual form?
Nothing’s out of bounds, if there’s a story to be told, it shall be told. For those who can’t digest disturbing compositions, a disclaimer precedes the image. This is where literature helps guide the viewer.
  • As you cover dramatic moments on camera, do you sometimes find yourself in a dilemma?
Always, but again, if its not you, someone else is going to do it anyway. But I personally have walked away from potentially controversial photo opportunities just out of respect for those within the frame but I’ve been shooed away most of the time.
Image by Vishal RS
  • For most people, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as a photojournalist and the transition towards your own imagery?
Oh boy, I’ve always been envious. So much so that, before I took any shot I had a habit of letting the composition fall into a pattern I’d seen with a million likes on Instagram by big league photographers. I never realized the many gorgeous compositions I was missing out on just because I wasn’t sure if the "netizens" would like it. Suffice it to say, I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of a community that accept your version of the world and not of those that has been done before. With each photo series I try to evolve, nothing significant, but enough to let myself know that this world that I see through the viewfinder, is my world and I’d like to create my pair of shoes for you to step into and venture forth.
Back to blog

Leave a comment