|Ryan Paul Lobo
|Ryan Lobo interviewed
by Shai Heredia
|SHAI HEREDIA: Ryan,
you are a photographer, a filmmaker and a painter
Yes, I have always painted and still do. I have
also always enjoyed making photographs and have
been taking them ever since I was very young. My
father had an old manual camera that I would use
when I was in middle school. I would get one roll
of film and shoot it carefully as I would only have
I quit a Master’s degree in cell biology from
an American university and returned to Bangalore
where I started an ad agency with a friend of mine.
A year into that I realized I was thoroughly bored.
I helped out with a documentary film where I met
Eric, my present business partner for films, then
an associate producer. After several conversations
regarding all the stories that could be done in
India, we made a pilot with a local naturalist.
National Geographic liked what we had and, after
doing couple of films for them, things snowballed.
They were hard times at first. There was blood,
sweat, tears. Years of running around, being completely
broke and worse. However, to cut a long story short,
over the next 5 years we shot numerous films all
over the world for various companies including National
Geographic, Animal Planet and Oprah. Alongside the
professional work I was doing, I found time to make
my images, my own personal images of what I was
involved in. Many of these images were used by the
companies I worked with including National Geographic.
They were still my own personal bits of work though,
and quite separate from my film work. While the
films often cater to the clients’ tastes more
than my own, the photos are always mine.
I shoot documentary films and I enjoy that process
but making photographs is what I have always loved.
I get to work on my own and I find it aesthetically
more pleasing. With professional documentary filmmaking,
one is not totally in control of the politics or
aesthetics of the client. With photos, the images
can be your own personal work and I value my photographs
far more than the films I have made.
With photographs you choose your frame exactly;
the exposure is yours. When it comes to editing
your work, it’s all up to you. So I have a
lot more control, which I appreciate and enjoy.
The films are often beautiful. “Well shot”.
They are often cut a certain way which, of late,
seems to have become more choppy and sensational.
A film is not yours alone. Many people work on it.
You cater to an audience with films. With photos,
I cater more to myself, my own personal aesthetic.
|SHAI HEREDIA: Can
you be descriptive of your style of psychological
An art critic friend of mine told me that my photos
contained moments where people were alone with themselves,
in the middle of crowds. Removed. Contemplating
mortality. Looking inwards without pretension.
Amidst crowds, I search for aloneness and intimacy.
|SHAI HEREDIA: Yes,
this is quite evident in the wedding series. I find
these images beautifully melancholic.
Well . . . some of the wedding photographs were
shot at a time in my life, which was quite hard.
I was sad. Maybe, that’s why I chose, as you
say, melancholic moments. Sometimes I think that
when I make a photograph, I am shooting myself in
some way. The image can be a reflection of who you
are or perhaps, what you are looking for at that
point in time. However, a sad moment in the middle
of a joyous occasion can also be interesting and
I, as a photographer, might also make an image like
that because it’s just that — interesting.
People are so similar. We are all part of the same
biology. The same politics exist at similar social
events. So, it’s liberating as well when I
return from my travels and things take on new meanings
— the weddings I used to roll my eyeballs
at as a child have, all of a sudden, become exciting
places because I see and feel the dynamics and history
behind tiny movements, moments, gestures, raised
eyebrows, old women looking on the same events with
the same smiles on their faces . . . I know many
of these people. I know them deeply. I like, love
and dislike some of them. Weddings are microcosms.
Everyone is present. Looking their best.
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