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Winning frames that tell tales

Sushaman Kadavil has an eye for images. This photographer has won a clutch of awards

Flashes of life Sushaman Kadavil values the thrill of photography that existed in pre digital days

Winning awards have become almost a habit for Sushamam Kadavil. But this nature and life photographer from Vypeen is not content to rest on his laurels.

The first place in the national level photography competition, conducted by the science and technology department of the State, last year was Sushaman’s 50th award in a career spanning 25 years. He followed this up winning a consolation prize at the photography competition conducted by the government as part of the World Photography Day celebrations. In fact, it was Sushaman and the late Vincent Monalisa, who worked in tandem, started the trend of travelling to capture the wonderful, natural beauty of God’s Own Country. They used to travel through the jungles, remote corners of the State, keeping their eyes open to the rare moments in daily life. The breathtaking visuals that the duo captured were unknown to photographers here till then.

“We were thick friends, used to travel together. Very often we clicked the same visuals, the same subjects. But always there used to be a marked difference in our frames. We also worked together in ‘Mangalam’ daily as freelance photographers for some time. This was an association that lasted nearly 22 years. His death was a big blow. I have not worked in a studio since then,” remembers Sushaman.

Differences and debates between the two on topics related to photography was quite common. Sushaman remembers that this was usually with regard to portrait photography.


“Vincent had a sharp third eye. He always gave a lot of importance to the artistic side of photography. His ability to see and create excellent images from the immediate surroundings, which normally goes unnoticed, was a special talent.”

Passion for the art was one reason why Sushaman took up photography as a profession. It was also an escape from the routine 9-5 job. He joined a photography institute at Thevara and after completing the course joined his cousin’s studio at Kumbalam Ferry where he worked for three months. He soon shifted base to Monalisa Studio. “I actually started off with Padmanabha Swamy, who was then chief photographer at the Naval Base. This was before I met Vincent.”

Although Sushaman used to send photographs for various competitions, he won his first award in 1994. The prize-winning photograph was selected from around 2,000 entries at a competition conducted by a Mumbai-based advertisement agency. To date he has won awards at 16 national-level competitions.

“Human life and landscape are my favourite subjects. But if there is a lasting image, a permanent theme in most of my photographs it is water. I don’t think is happens consciously. For one who has lived his life in an island with water around but hardly little to drink, this has always been a part of my being.”

Getting appreciated for the excellence of his frames has helped this photographer think bigger and better. But the only element that he misses these days is the suspense, curiosity and nervousness that photographers of his generation used to experience in the old days. That was the time when it used to take time to see the finished photograph after it was put through an elaborate process of washing and producing the image from the negative. That thrill in waiting to find out whether the images have been captured perfectly was something special. That relief when the photograph comes alive is a feeling that has been lost in these days of digital cameras and equipment.

Sushaman, who used to sell his photographs for advertising agencies and for calendars, now exhibits his works along with the paintings at the Treasure Hunt art gallery, where he works as a coordinator.


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