“Let your obsession make a name for yourself” – Vidumina Ihalagedara | Sunday Observer

“Let your obsession make a name for yourself” – Vidumina Ihalagedara

27 December, 2020

‘Expression’ is an action which we invariably propound. It doesn’t matter what you are good at, what is important is finding how you wish to express yourself. Belonging to a generation which is hurrying to walk past the conventional milestones of education including having primary and higher education, it is a Herculean act to let your own expression or voice speak for yourself. While most people are getting frustrated after looking for the perfect career to pursue that matches with their qualifications, leaving it all behind and listening to what your instincts have to tell the world could be the bravest decision someone can make.

Seeing the beauty behind what is already visible to the eyes is not an ingenuity many people can master. Out of the myriad of ways to convey ‘expression’, Vidumina Ihalagedara’s unfaltering fascination for seeking beauty in all that is aesthetic: a random gesture, a secluded place, rotten colours, a reflection from a puddle plus anything phenomenal, has eventually made him a photographer.

Obsession

“For me, photography means a technology and art-based moment blended with lights, colors and emotions” says Vidumina. Throughout the last three years, Vidumina has been obsessed with capturing moments, experimenting new themes and angles after he was accidentally gifted with a camera.

“I had this fascination since school days, but I never dreamt to be a photographer. It was after my higher studies that I received a DSLR as a gift. Thereafter, my life got off to a destination where I believed my camera would take me”. Vidumina says that his camera has been his companion all the time, and he has been addicted to his camera. “My addiction and passion have brought me where I am today”. Nearly three years ago, Vidumina Ihalagedara was known among his university friends as an amiable, simple guy with a good sense of humor.

More than for his subject, Geography, which he chose to specialise in. he was known and adored for his artistic talents in drama and music, yet no one knew by then, he had even more undiscovered treasures within him. “I could find a job related to what I studied.

Being an environmentalist or a wildlife officer was on my mind. I also studied music till the Advanced Level exam. Sometimes, if I didn’t come upon this path, I could have been a musician’.

Wedding photography

Wedding photography has become Vidumina’s choice at a time he was not so certain what genre/genres he was going to pick. “I stepped into wedding photography through a friend. I had not fixed my mind to do wedding photography by then. It’s just that I couldn’t get enough of my camera every day. One day I had to cover one of my friend’s sister’s wedding. I did my best.

After that, my friends including friends on my FB saw my work. They gave me work from time to time. Then, I actually found myself continuing wedding shoots. This genre of photography bears a lot of responsibilities as well as fame. But it doesn’t confine me or my creativity, it just enhances me. In this venture, only I can limit myself”.

Vidumina’s inspiration is his obsession itself and the feedback of his friends and audience. “It’s true that I had the passion initially, but what drives me everyday to continue my work is the comments I get from my fans”.

If something makes ‘photography’ a career worth pursuing, it’s an entire package that contains many things: your vision, style and sense earns the due recognition, your talent is being made the best use of, you can create memories which cannot be done via any other mode as intensely as through photography, plus, you have the ability to carry those memories to the future.

You can present stories to society, things you have to learn and your art and technology gets enhanced every time you capture something. “This profession sets me free, it brings me close to nature and takes me to all the beautiful places worth travelling”. According to Vidumina, the all types of personal growth and assets he has gained are because of his profession.

Themes

To someone who has seen Vidumina’s photos, it might be one picture or two, but they certainly know that there’s a lot more to treasure in his albums than just flipping through them.

Because he is a pro at his game, be it a wedding photograph, street photograph, nature photograph or a portrait, he knows how to bewitch the viewers by making a point of showing emotions and sentiments directly in his photos. “I like to depict the environment, various cultures and emotions through my photos. I think those themes also contribute to my obsession.

The viewers should feel the photograph naturally. If I can depict what I actually both see and feel through a photograph, that’s always my kind of achievement”.

What would you call a good photograph?

“There are several facts a :photo’s composition, light and colour usage, whether the photo conveys a particular story or not, if it creates a significant memory. If a photographer can blend all these features into a photo, I would call it a good photograph”.

As it is for every other photographer, the colour component is basic and important for Vidumina as well. ‘Each colour is connected to different feelings. That is the nature of humans. The state of the art in photography now is creating colour harmonies and categorising colours to tone with the sentiments and contexts in the pictures.

Photography is just one art which is done using colours. I also use colours according to the context I wish to portray. My choice of colours depends on the time I capture the photo, the type of costumes the couple is wearing and the location. Also, what I try to do most is, to use colours in a way so that they enhance the meaning of the photograph and to give the eyes of the beholder a soothing experience”.

On the subjects of software for retouching and editing time for a photo Vidumina said; “currently, I use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom basically. The time I spend to edit a picture depends. With some photos, I spend my entire day. It is because what comes to my mind and the content of the photograph usually decide the time I invest on it. I edit my photos on my own. So, I only do a limited amount of work’.

Challenges and responsibilities

Vidumina has gone through so much until he got to where he is today. He has had issues when he was venturing into wedding photography as a career.” Initially, I had a very limited amount of equipment and resources. I had the question as to how to make the best use out of the ‘very little’ I had. For that, I did my own experiments. It was a time when around 95 percent of wedding photography was done with the use of lights. But I mastered my own art on how to capture from the available light. I’m actually glad that I continue this as a career because of the experiments I did and mastered. Actually, life itself is a challenge. What is worthy is facing them and doing your best. For me, my career is the first priority, everything else is secondary. I like to face challenges alone. I embrace everything happily”.

“I think the photographer is someone who plays a very important role on a wedding day because we are responsible for capturing the most beautiful moments for them to cherish. The photographer freezes the memories and embellishes them. For that he/she should work with both their hearts and minds. This is such a busy career. I meet various kinds of people every day. I should have patience. Actually patience gets mastered in doing this job as we deal with people and incidents as well. I know my journey is safe as I can put up with all those challenges and responsibilities”.

Supporters and admirers

“One of my sisters, Samanalee Pathirage is the one who inspired me to be a photographer by gifting me a camera. If I didn’t receive that gift, people wouldn’t know me as a wedding photographer today. She changed my life. Also, my parents and my sister were there from the beginning. My girlfriend is always by my side and gives me much support. I should mention my dearest younger brothers, assistants and designers who work their souls out while being with me enabling me to come out with my best all the time. Because this is something that cannot be done alone. Even the staff in the printing labs gave a big helping hand to me. Besides this , I remember all my fans and admirers, those who enjoy my work, with much gratitude. When I post my albums on FB, there are fans of mine who leave 200, 300 comments. All of my work gets done because of their words. I’m so grateful for their motivation”.

The competency level of photography in SL

“Today, we have passed an era where we have been confined to a frame. We get updated day by day as we surf the creations of international photographers and besides that, the upgrading of technology is backing this field. Sri Lanka has plenty of scenic locations. The photographers have the responsibility of making the most of those locations. There’s a lack of facilitation from the Government for Sri Lankan photographers. If the Government creates a situation where a photographer can comfortably do his job without any encumbrances in specific locations, it would be so worthwhile’.

Suggestions and advice

“If you buy a camera or you’re gifted with one, don’t think about how you can earn from it. A camera is a mode of art. We should first know if we can live with it or not, whether we can present society something meaningful with it. If you aspire to be a photographer, don’t make it a way to earn, love it first. Learn photography, experiment, then only will you end up being someone who deserves a certain level of value. Also, if someone shows you your weak points, be humble enough to focus on them, figure them out and make sure your next photo is going to be free of them’.

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