Searching for the key to unlock my creativity

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Anuj Madan

Seoul based professional photographer/videographer (and pondering the if at this point shall we just call ourselves visual content creators?); Anuj Madan has chosen to concentrate mostly on Food and artists portraits as you can see on his website www.AnujMadan.com. Although these days the lure of travel documenting is what he stays up nights dreaming about, he still credits food and the chefs that create those masterful pieces with his recent success. “My hope is to create something artful, to inspire artists to push themselves and drag me along on that journey less traveled.” He aims not to be a technical master photographer but rather a philosophical content creator through his photography. The biggest compliment he received so far was, “Our sales went up after we put up those photos at the XYZ location” and he hopes the next compliment he gets is, “Anuj, your work and process made me create something better than I had expected, you brought the best out in me, let’s do another project together”.

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Hello fellow Fuji lovers.

So I reached out to Fuji X Passion magazine and asked if I could share, and after reviewing my portfolio and deciding I’m worthy (maybe), they agreed. But now came the hard part, which of my many ideas would I share now that I had a forum and an attentive targeted audience. I thought and I thought, I wondered if talking gear would satisfy the group (i’m not the gearheard I wish I was), or maybe my process (not as self-important as I’d have to be), or perhaps talk about how I got started or what I like to shoot and why (who cares, and check out my portfolio respectively) No. I decided that I would use this opportunity to learn rather than profess.

I’d like to begin a discussion with you all about something that I am currently facing as a photographer without a clear path to move forward: How to get to that next level of art in my work that I myself can be pleased and satisfied with without being arrogant or self-delusional.

Self Portrait: using a tripod and timer, looking out at Kruger National Park in South Africa

I mean, I think i’m pretty good at what I do, even get paid for it, but I’ve picked an artistic profession, and one that doesn’t get the attention other artists seemingly get. For example, musicians, singers, even painters definitely have larger followings and potentially higher paychecks at the top of their game. The cliche that almost everyone now days is a photographer with their smartphones is partly true, but what separates someone with a camera, even with an amazing X-T2, and a working photographer? I believe it is the vision, the commitment, and the genuine interest in the art of photography itself.

Vision: when I take a photo, I don’t shoot just what I see, I shoot for the potential that frame has after I’m done working on it. After that moment captured has been through MY process it will become my photograph, I intend to add value to it, thats what makes my vision of value.

Double exposure image: Using XT-2’s built in double exposure feature

Commitment: I have chosen to forgo other opportunities for my time spent on this. I choose to spend my time, money, and attention on taking photos. I don’t order a meal and then take a photo of it if it looks good. I make it look good so I can take a photo of it. In spite of knowing I may not be the greatest photographer someday, or I may not make a lot of money doing this, I dove in anyway, because I had a passion for this artform that brought me joy and there was hope that I can make a living doing it. And so I did, and now I make money doing it, but it isn’t enough to just do that is it?

Interest in the art of photography: and here is the moment of truth. Am I expressing my love for this artform in the best way I can? Are my photos and my work reflecting how I feel about the camera, the subject in front of my lens, how I envision and create a moment to capture? In other words, am I reaching my full potential having been given the best tools, and the good fortune to have the time to pursue my dream career? I’m afraid lately i’ve been feeling that I am not. I don’t need another camera, I don’t need more lenses or better models, or even more ‘gigs’. I guess my question is, is the journey all I should be enjoying, or is there a destination? Some would say it’s’ the journey that matters, well, i’m on it and i’m committed to it, but then how come I feel like there is more to it and I somehow seem to be missing ‘it’. And for those who would say there is a destination, and it takes time and practice, I say, well, how do we know when we get there, and how do we know I will be satisfied when I am there?

As you’ll see from my portfolio, I like shooting artistically designed food and I love creating portraits of working people.

Chefs will be cooking, actors will be acting, models modeling.

What I love about these subjects is that aside from my being able to express my creativity, it always involves the subject to be creative as well. For example, when I work with these extraordinary chefs, I tell them this is why I do this, “you are an artist, but you work within these constraints of the business. Dishes must be out the kitchen within a few minutes, they must be consistent, and flavorful, hot and presented well, but keep the costs in mind at all times – this is business. But when working with me on the project, I remove these constraints for the day in the name of artistic freedom.” Chefs can take their time and create what they are best able to create without limitations.

Art that cannot be necessarily be created over and over, art that doesn’t have to satisfy every customer consistently, but can satisfy it’s creator, and I have the honor of capturing it today. I have the privilege of being inspired by these artists, but first I must plant the seed for that inspiration within them and boy do I reap the rewards.

But I know somehow that there is more to this than just a picture… and I feel this is a great forum to discuss this journey, to ask these questions, and hopefully to arrive there together.

I see so many good photographs, but sometimes I can’t help but think “so what?”, and what I hope for is that I don’t have that feeling towards my own work, for having known this feeling why would I continue to produce work that brings from within the same indifference. To be clear, I am not saying others work isn’t beautiful or creative or doubting the photographers talent, in fact, I put myself in their shoes, I imagine that wonderful photo was mine, and how would I feel? So what? Now what? And this feeling of inconclusiveness, non-closure, for lack of a better term overwhelms me. I guess I am asking this community of artists and creators, one ultimate question, “how or what do the artists think that makes them great?”. Help me.


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  • Beautiful work, congratulations!

    • Anuj Madan

      Thank you Luis.
      Please feel free to share any inspiration.