I am intrigued by the surreal works of Enjo Mathew. Even though predominantly melancholic, every moment I spend looking at them makes me light and peaceful at heart. Being a busy-body by birth, the effect of his works on me is profound.
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Achievement: Published works in 1x.com
Technique: Visual Art (Amateur)
A rare mix of photographic talent and surreal editing skills have made Enjo a promising prodigy in the field of visual art. This talk with him tries to get a peek into his methods, style and passion.
Q. What made you to realize that visual art is your forte?
A. Forever, I have visualized scenes in my head. While in school, it occurred to me that photography can convert these imaginations into reality. But I was in no position to afford this expensive hobby at the time. It was only in 2003 that I bought my first decent digital camera. Thus began my pursuit. These pictures, especially with human element, are carefully planned visualizations, not just a random shot. When I succeeded in turning my visuals into art forms, it dawned on me that ‘visual art’ is a natural extension of myself.
Q. You have mentioned that your interest is in soulful photography. To me, most of them convey a melancholic lost feeling.
Melancholy, solitude, silence… All these, the state of self, stir the very soul. Don’t they?
Q. What kind of gear do you use?
A. I currently use Canon EOS 5D mark II. But I can’t part with my EOS 400D either. My favorite lens is the Canon 70-200mm f2.8. I also have a particular affinity for the Sigma 28mm f1.8 lens.
Q. When you go for your travels, what all do you take with you?
A. If you meant a photography related travel, I do carry most of my gear. That includes the cameras, Speedlite flash, lenses and the tripod. Otherwise, I’ll just go with the 5D Mark II and the 70-200mm lens.
I keep my camera in Manual mode always. This gives me precise control over the finer details of a shot.
When it comes to creative photography, Manual mode is the key.
Q. Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you haven’t bought?
A. Yes, the Sigma 70-300mm. I am dismayed by the results.
Q. It is very difficult to believe that the following picture is real. I almost jumped off my seat! Tell us everything about this work.
A. The picture above is indeed real. To be honest, the only thing unreal in this picture, is the yellow cabin light. It was drawn in and I believe that it brings the picture to life instantly.
The tree does not look this spooky in reality. This picture is taken in infrared, that is how the greens on the tree looks white and pale-ish.
Infrared photography is an incredible artistic genre of photography, if one can get it right.
I labored one year with trial and error before I started getting good results. This picture was shot at the Johannesburg Zoo (South Africa), during daytime with a very overcast sky. Seeing the tree, I knew instantly that this one is for the infrared folder.
Infrared pics come in a red/orange (black and white) tint that is then converted into a blue tint using Photoshop. This gives it a night feel. I softened the tree to give a kind of misty feel. At the end of post-processing, the picture acquired a dark, fairy tale feel. Then it ‘bulbed’ on me to draw the yellow cabin lights. I believe that the lights has a remarkable impact on the picture.
Q. Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
A. Each one of them is the result of painstaking efforts. I like some of my early-on shots which proved to be a turning point.
[Click the thumbnails to see their large version]
Q. Who is more powerful among Enjo, his camera and his Photoshop software?
A. I am not a digital artist who draws things from imagination. I take photos and use Photoshop to enhance the pictures for presentation. The end result is paramount and the camera, the software are tools I use to reach the end result. Of course, it pays to be good in all the different stages involved as the end result is also dependent on how good the output is from the previous stages.
Q. While you are taking a photo, do you see it as a finished art through the eye hole or does it just turn out the way it is during post-processing?
A. Yes, when I look through the viewfinder, I am constantly imagining how the end result will be. This is helpful to stick to the Rule Of Thirds. For example, when I look at a scene and if I have an idea where my album titles will end up in that picture, it automatically lets me align the picture to the Rule Of Thirds.
Q. What is the single best quality that a fine artist needs?
The visualization of the end result is the most important thing.
Deciding on the various attributes and factors of camera prior to taking a picture is a handsome task. Of course, there are instances of serendipity either while taking pictures or in post processing, which I take as a sweet bonus for the efforts I put in.
For example, in the picture shown above, I had framed the tree and the emptiness surrounding it. I had completely missed out the heart-shaped shine in the sky while taking the picture and also during post-processing until a friend pointed it out to me! But it is such fleeting moments that make it worth, I’d say.
Q. Whose works have had a profound influence on your work?
A. Firman Hananda and Hengki Koentjoro from Indonesia have influenced me much. For some unknown reason, Indonesia has produced some superbly talented photo artists. Then of course, Binu Bhaskar, the person who I’d point to as my guru. I would also like to mention Rajwin Chandy whose works inspired me in the early days.
Q. Do you refer to any magazines or blogs for inspiration?
A. I don’t refer to any magazines. When on vacations in India, I do buy the available editions of Smart Photography and Better Photography magazines. That’s the only time I get to see the works of photographers from India. If I am eager to learn a particular effect or trick in Photoshop, I refer to YouTube video tutorials.
Q. Is there something you wish you knew when you started photography?
A. I am painfully self taught, so yes, there are a lot of things I now know, that I wish I knew back then. I have never gone for any formal photography classes nor have I gone to anyone to formally train me. I just had the will and a lot of patience to discover things around me on my own.
Our Favorite Enjo Shot – In Humble Admiration
Enjo has produced a lot of amazing works that it is almost impossible to list even the top 10. The moment you start looking at his works, you will forget what your prior intentions were.
Let me know which ones are your favorite from his Art Gallery – The Eternal Sunshine Page.