Mani Singh is a recent graduate from the photography program at Georgian College. PhotoED Magazine asked him some questions about his creative process and how he tackles the issue of confidence when photographing people.
How did you get started in photography?
I was on an excursion with my classmates and professor while completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Animation and Multimedia. During the trip, my professor handed me a DSLR camera and asked me to take some photos. That was my first time using a DSLR and I immediately fell in love with the process. I loved it. I had finally found a tool through which I was able to express my thoughts and feelings in a concrete way, and I had the power to “capture the moment.” Soon after, I bought my first camera, a Canon 600D, and have been shooting since.
Did you study any other photographers work as a way to grow your confidence?
I always check social media for new work from other photographers. It helps me to learn new techniques for future shoots and motivates me to get out and create more and more.
Are there any photographers that have influenced your art?
Joseph Cartwright, Renee Robyn, and Steve Richards. My teachers at Georgian College have also inspired my creativity as a photographer.
What do you think is the best way to gain confidence in yourself as an artist/photographer?
I believe the best way to gain confidence is to believe in yourself, even from the moment you’re starting out. Don’t be afraid to share your work and ask people to critique it. Listen to the feedback and apply those suggestions to your future work. The most important thing I learned during my two years at Georgian was to get out of my comfort zone. By only doing one small thing everyday, you can definitely create results.
How did you gain your confidence?
I used to be a very shy person who didn’t talk to many people, but my teachers always encouraged their students to be brave and use creativity as a means of overcoming that shyness. I slowly began engaging with peers and asking them to model for me. I also showed my work to my classmates and asked them to critique it, which helped me see what aspects of my work I needed to concentrate on improving.
Did you have any difficult experiences or setbacks?
I used to get discouraged when my photo shoots didn’t go well or I didn’t get the results I was looking for, but I never gave up on pursuing my art. Instead, I would rework my plan, such as keeping the same concept but using a different technique, and try again. I also find that if I am having trouble coming up with a creative idea, I give myself a week’s break before revisiting that concept.
Do you have any areas you’d like to improve on?
There is always room for improvement and to learn new techniques. Right now I’m concentrating on improving the poses for my models, which I think are a vital part of my photography.
Do you ever review your old photos and feel like you've grown since that time? How does that process affect how you see yourself?
I love to review my old photos. Being able to see my progress helps me gain confidence and encourages me to keep shooting. It’s a great idea to look at your previous work when you feel discouraged, it helps to keep you motivated.
How did you create the “Running Girl” image?
There were a lot of challenges that I had to overcome to finally get this image right. I planned the shoot two weeks in advance, as it was taken in a parking lot and relied on the weather. I used a three-light setup: two lights with grids and one light with a medium soft box. I also grated sidewalk chalk to make a powder, which I used in the background. Finally, I had two assistants throwing different coloured powders while I took the shot. It was very challenging to get the model into focus while she was running, so I had to take about 200 shots to get the perfect one.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My hope is to continue developing my skills, learning more techniques, and producing creative and exceptional photographs through which people can become inspired.