From his hometown of Chennai to his recent 24 Hours in Times Square project, one thing that never changes for street photographer and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Conservatory grad Venkata “Venky” Krishnan Ganesan is keeping an open mind. The artist recently challenged himself to spend 24-hours straight, out on the streets in New York City, convincing perfect strangers to let him take their portrait on a chilly winter day (20°!). No wonder this enterprising photographer won the Best of Manhattan Award for Photographer 2017.
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Ganesan is hoping to set an official record with his marathon 24-hour portrait session on the streets of New York, during which he told Fstoppers he blasted through:
- 2.5 liters of water
- 3 energy bars
- 5 cups of coffee
- 15.9 miles (walking back and forth between Duffy Square to Times Square)
- 1,000 strangers
- 680 portraits
Now, the Photography Conservatory grad tells the NYFA Blog about his process behind his herculean street photography project, his approach to art, and what’s coming next.
NYFA: What inspired your 24 Hours in Time Square project?
VKG: The idea is been in my mind for a long period of time. It was more of a goal I wanted to achieve as a test of endurance: Will I be able to stand and talk to a whole bunch of strangers for 24 hours straight, and convince them to get a portrait done in less than a min?
NYFA: What surprised you the most? What did you learn through this experience?
VKG: Learning how to handle rejection was very important for growth. Everyone talks about failure. I think if you are open to rejections and you will never have failure.
I was surprised that I was able to handle rejection for 24 hours non-stop.
NYFA: What is your key advice to students interested in street photography?
VKG: Sometimes you have to be more of a business person than an artist. If you need something, you ask for it and you will get it.
My advice would be stop clicking pictures with the camera and start clicking with your mind. You will get better pictures.
NYFA: As a street photographer in these extreme conditions, what were your strategies for endurance? And how did you select your subjects?
VKG: Endurance will follow with excitement. I am always excited to click pictures of people I can never do that will nature. I go with my gut for my subjects and they turn out to be interesting faces.
NYFA: What inspires you most about street photography?
VKG: Interactions with lots of people inspire me the most. When you talk to so many people, you get a new perspective in life, and it gets better the more you interact.
NYFA: How has your approach to photography grown or changed since studying at NYFA?
VKG: After being a commercial photographer for many years, I had to unlearn what I did in the past. I think unlearning is the key to learning. You always think you know, but you actually don’t. I learned how to look at photography in a different way in terms of becoming an artist and making money. With the help of all my mentors at NYFA, I have become a extremely evolved photographer.
NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?
VKG: I enjoyed every moment in NYFA. That was the most exciting period in my life. You get to see and lean the something new every day.
NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
VKG: I am working on something with which I will be able to give back to other photographers. It’s a website where you can upload your images, and we will help you get your photographs curated. This will help photographers develop their style and introspection.
With the 24 Hours project, I will be applying for the book of records and thinking about doing the same project for five more years, and make it into a book of strangers.
NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you are doing now?
VKG: It is like the human brain — I use only 7-10 percent of what I learnt at NYFA, but I am trying to use more and see what happens. I use almost all the basic techniques and NYFA gave me a road map on what how and why, which makes me a better photographer.