In the centre of Thiruvananthapuram city is a little hotel no one will miss. Hotel Taj has been around for decades and in the old days, it used to be a hub for people from the film fraternity to hang out. The owner — Mohammed Bashir — was a creative man himself, winning best singer, best poet and best actor awards in the university. He taught his son Suraj Khan to hold a camera. A nice Canon that he carried around preciously, like a gold biscuit, Suraj remembers. Today, Suraj is an acclaimed professional photographer, but it is his dad that paved the way through his childhood.
“He taught me how to take family portraits and because we wouldn’t be satisfied if anyone else took the picture, we ended up taking them all and rarely appearing in any,” Suraj laughs. Those were also the days of film cameras and 36 frames. “So we had to be very choosy and couldn’t be trigger-happy like today. The resources were also costly — each time you develop a roll, it cost you.”
Suraj had to stay away from photography when he went to college, graduating in Commerce. But when he went for his MBA he sneaked away with his camera, went on trips and rekindled his old love. The next job also brought him closer to photography. “It was with Alamy, British online stock photography library. I was in fact accompanying a friend who wanted to borrow my tie for an interview. I went along too and found the office walls full of photographs. That’s when I knew what the company was about and got a job.”
Three years there made him realise that his images are quite sellable. He got his first camera from his sister in the US — a Canon Rebel XTi — and started clicking madly while travelling. “It’s been 12 years of professional photography now. There were small events at first, and then weddings and functions. I started a travel company in between to fuel the passion for photography.”
Somewhere along, Suraj bumped into Baker, an editor and digital artist. They decided to collaborate together, letting Suraj spend all his time shooting, and free of the desk work, while Baker did the editing. Their work focused on architectural designs and spaces, along with commercial photography, fashion, lifestyle, portfolios and events.
“I also continued with my personal interest —travel, people, culture. I like to go to crowded places and watch people.” It is when his Facebook page of photography attracted people around the world that Suraj became confident of his work. “It is all about adding emotions and feelings to photos. A wedding album to the couple should be full of surprises,” he says....