There is something about photographers the rest of us in the aesthetically challenged, â€˜letâ€™s just stick to selfiesâ€™ list, as spectators, canâ€™t seem to understand. How the hell do they do it? Capturing the essence of life with every click is sheer talent that only a few of us are blessed with, and needless to say, it is amazing how effortlessly they do it. That being said, even amongst the many aesthetically talented souls of our country, there are some who stand out.
Now, we all know how photography as a profession wasnâ€™t the most sought after back in the day. The cameras were complicated and very few would actually practice it with utmost dedication. In this regard, women were found considerably deep in the background. A creative profession stuffed with such machismo was definitely out of their bounds. In fact, for the longest of time, we couldnâ€™t imagine a woman behind the lens. Lucky for us, all has changed now, and today, we have some brilliant women photographers in the country. The one leading this band of effervescent artists with her mind-blowing, east-meets-west collection of vivacious funk work is Anushka Menon.
A graduate in art design and communications, Anushka Menon, is a beauty and fashion photographer based in New Delhi. She is no ordinary artist, but a brand in herself. Her photographs stand on their grandiose piers sputtering freshness of vibrant colours and schemes. A true epitome of a modern artist, sheâ€™s worked for magazines like GQ and Vogue. Furthermore, her work translates into videos, portraitures, advertisements and more. Trust me when I say this, with every scroll, â€˜wowâ€™ is the word you will utter. Now, before I begin to tell you more about this talented young lady, letâ€™s give you a glimpse of her work.
In awe, arenâ€™t you? In this candid conversation with Menon, we unravel all about her life and how she found success amidst challenges laid by a gritty society constantly dictating our every day actions. Check it out:
It began in 2002 when I was studying art design and communication at RMIT, Melbourne. Photography was one of the subjects I fell in love with after developing my first roll of film. It was unexpected, but as I knew I wanted to create, the need to take up photography came quite naturally and therefore I continued my studies in photography for another 2 years after that. So, all in all, 3 years of studying which then led me to begin my professional career at the beginning of 2005.
Â Â 2.Â How did you stumble upon body art? When did you get your first tattoo? What pushed you to get one?
Body art was something I was always fond of. Iâ€™d wear fake tattoos growing up and had multiple piercings at a young age. I have six ear piercings, 1 nose piercing, my belly button and when I was in Melbourne in 2002 I had my labret pierced followed by a tongue piercing. My first tattoo was when I was about 15 years old. I had a Japanese symbol tattooed on my lower back. If I remember correctly it was the symbol for strength, which I then realized sometime later was tattooed in reverse. I soon had a tiger tattooed under the symbol and when I came to India in 2003 I met Hardy and by 2004 I had got a cover up over my symbol with the Sakura tree of life followed by a Japanese Fuku Riu dragon on my lower abdomen. Since then Iâ€™ve had another 4 tattoos, one done in London, one in New York and the other 2 by Hardy again.
I like to express myself through body art. and the way I look, even my hairstyles play a huge role in expression.
3.Â Do you design your own tattoos? How many tattoos do you have in all and which is your favourite of the lot?
I like to have a say in the designs of my tattoos. Some tattoos have been my own design and some a team effort of the tattoo artist and myself. I have 7 tattoos, 8 including the covered up symbol. I love all my tattoos. They have been very meaningful transitions in my life but if I have to choose one then it would have to be my tape deck symbols I have on my arm.
4. What do they mean to you? How much do they define you as a person?
Iâ€™ve always gotten a tattoo when going through something in my life. Like a reminder or a message to myself. They have all been very personal and hard to explain. But I love everything Japanese and so most of the tattoos I have are Japanese inspired. They symbolise strength, hope, luck, growth and ambition.
5.Â Do you regret inking any of these? If so, which one and why?
No regrets. Each tattoo has seen me through a certain phase in my life – each reminding me of who I am and so if ever I decide that one no longer serves that purpose, Iâ€™ll get it tattooed over.
6. How obsessed are you about your tattoo?
I would not say obsessed but I do love them.
7. Do you plan to get new tattoos anytime soon?
Yes, I always am planning to get another one.
8. Does keeping tattoos, sort of, differentiate you from the crowd? What do you feel about that? The way ‘women with tattoos’ are perceived?
Depends on what crowd you are talking about. But yes, in India, itâ€™s not so common. But it is becoming more popular. When I started getting tattoos I was 15 and at that time I had no friends that had them so from a young age I stood out with the way I expressed myself. At 13, I chopped off my shoulder length hair and had a sort of crew cut. My dad was not happy about that.
9. As a woman photographer, what is it that keeps you going in the industry so fierce and fine? Do you think the line is evolving for women?
Being able to adapt, keeping up with trends and new styles of photography, whilst being true to your own signature style. The key is to keep evolving as the industry does.
There are so many more women photographers today than there were 10 years ago when I started out, which is not so long ago. But, in India, there were hardly a handful on women fashion photographers.
10. What are your views on the tattoo culture in India?
Iâ€™m not so involved in the culture as I am just in getting tattooed.
11. What according to you makes you stand out as an artist? Any idols you look up to?
My work and the way I like to dable in multure forms of creativity, be in music, dance or photography. My friends are my inspiration and my idols are artists like Fka Twigs, David and La Chapelle.
Anushka Menon is truly one of a kind. Whether itâ€™s through her work in photography or the way she carries herself, there is an aura of immense creativity around her. Her body art and piercings too, are an expression of her real self; something most of us in the current times struggle with. She is an inspiration to us all, as an acclaimed artist and a woman.