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Through The Camera Lens

by Webmaster Masala

Photographer and social media influencer Sukrit Srisakulchawla shares his fascinating journey.

By Christy Lau

Some people know what they want to do in life from day one, others find their passion quite by accident. It was through such a twist of fate that Bangkok-bred Sukrit Srisakulchawla, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration (BSBA) in Boston, found himself exploring the world through a more creative point of view. His natural gift for the art of photography soon led to him garnering more than 32,000 followers on Instagram, and joining the prestigious photography initiative #TeamPixel by Google, where he recently enjoyed an exclusive pass to the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Masala finds out just what gets this creative’s camera clicking.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

Growing up, I have always enjoyed the art of storytelling. I was also a very artistic child, always drawing and painting scenes around me. It wasn’t until my high school years that I was introduced to photography. Up until that point, I looked at the camera only as a device to capture moments on our family vacations, and nothing more. When I was finally introduced to photography, I became quite attached to it. The ability to capture and forever store moments, even it meant nothing to everyone else, was fascinating. It was art that was instantaneous and modern, yet still forced the artist to meet a lot of the traditional rules and concepts of art.

My interest in the field sparked again when I was introduced to the Instagram community in Boston. Here, I found people of diverse backgrounds, pursuing the art passionately, not professionally, as a shared hobby. This fact that this particular art form was accessible enough for me to pursue, without sacrificing all else that I wanted to do, is perhaps what pushed me to start taking more pictures and sharing them online.

Why did you decide not to pursue a photography course in university?

When I was applying to universities, I never really considered photography, but had applied to both architecture and business programs. I eventually chose the business route, coming to the realisation that I personally did not want to spend the next few years creating art to please a professor, rather than myself. I have found that I am most happy with my creative work outside the classroom, rather than those that were graded upon.

What led to you becoming a social media influencer?

In the summer of 2015, a few months after being introduced to the Instagram community in Boston, I was featured by Instagram as a Suggested User. That meant I would be recommended to new users who had just signed up to the app. Through this feature, my following increased drastically and eventually led to the opportunities to start working with brands. Slowly, my work started getting more recognition, first by my university, Northeastern University, then The Boston Globe, and later on Boston’s Fox25 News. I often find myself still questioning whether any of it is reality or all a dream, and while I may not be actively pursuing photography full-time, I am truly grateful for the experiences that I have been fortunate enough to have had so far.

Why do you think Instagram is a good platform to showcase your work?

To me, Instagram has always been more than just about putting my work online. It was about connecting with people who share the same interests or experiences. I have learnt a lot through the works of other photographers and creators on Instagram, and I can only hope that my photographs can perhaps one day inspire someone to travel somewhere, pursue some experience, or try something new with their own craft. The mutual interdependence, between the creator and the community that exists on online platforms such as Instagram, has helped me personally grow my skill set, pushed me to learn, and drives me to improve.

What would you say sets your work apart from other photographers?

When photographing, I always ask myself, what it is I can do to add to the moment, or how would this look if it was taken in my imaginary perfect day? As photography becomes more accessible, and camera quality improves, I think what sets one apart is imagination and the willingness to go beyond the technicalities. While I do believe without the proper foundation or base photo, you can’t really do much, editing and post-processing is where I see myself really adding value to my photographs.

In your opinion, what is the key to taking the perfect picture?

In my opinion, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect picture.’ Photography, like all art, is very personal and depends entirely on taste. If I went back and re-processed a photograph I took a year ago, it would look very different, simply because I am not the same person today, as I was then. Nevertheless, my advice for those starting out is to always consider composition and perspective. Think of how you compose your subject – where they are in the frame and how they fill the frame. Next, think of where you are as the photographer – are you shooting straight on, or do you want to lie down on the ground and shoot upwards?

How did you become a part of Google’s #teampixel?

Last summer, I was contacted by an agency, who were finding creators to promote the release of Google’s Pixel 2 phone. Through this campaign, I created three unique pieces of content that was shared on my account early to mid-November. Late in December, I received an email from a representative at Google inviting me to join the ambassadorship program on a more long-term basis, because they liked the content I had created for the release campaign.

What does it mean to be a brand ambassador for Google’s Pixel devices? What are some of your responsibilities?

As brand ambassador, I am expected to occasionally create and share content that promotes the hardware, as well as work closely with marketing teams at Google to develop co-directed editorials and campaigns for the product. Through the program, I am also very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend events with Google, representing #TeamPixel, and additionally creating and sharing content from those experiences.

 

Tell us about your experience at the Sundance Film Festival with Google. Did you get to meet any celebrities?

Sundance was truly inspirational. It was my first time attending a film festival, and was also my first trip with #TeamPixel. While the trip was only for four days, I truly had a great time enjoying the variety of activities Park City had to offer. I got the chance to attend premiere screenings to two incredible films, as well as attend the after-parties hosted each night by YouTube and Google.

Over the course of my time there, I was also lucky enough to see Nick Offerman, Ted Danson, Tessa Thompson, Jack Black, Jonah Hill, Keira Knightley, and Priyanka Chopra. Some up close, as I walked passed them, some from across the street, and others at the premieres. Seeing these stars who I’ve admired in person, in the setting of Sundance may have already been really great, but mixed in with fresh snowfall, amazing food, the welcoming vibes at Park City, and most importantly, the incredible #teampixel members who I now call friends, I can say the trip was nothing short of magical.

You’ve travelled around the world, from Asia to the United States. What would you say has been the most fascinating place to photograph?

Apart from my home city of Bangkok, I would have to pick New York City. I find the city to truly embody the spirit of dreamers, and the energy that the diverse population brings is just truly fascinating. New York has some of my favorite restaurants, coffee shops and dessert spots, and as a huge foodie, that is always an important factor to consider when travelling. The first time I visited New York was six years ago, and since then I’ve been back ten times, but each trip has always been different. The city is just so big and with the vast number of hot spots that exists, I find that I still have so many places in New York that I want to visit and photograph. 

Any advice to other students on how to balance being a student with your extracurricular activities?

Education always comes first, but education doesn’t always have to come from school. It is important to focus on doing the best you can in your studies, but also equally important that you make the time to partake in a hobby, or be involved in a social setting, like joining a club.

As an international student, it was also very important to me that I explored the city, what it had to offer, and engage with the local community larger than that which exists on campus. For me, it was through photography that I was able to go out and roam the streets of Boston, taking in all that is has to offer.

What do you do to unwind on weekends?

Unfortunately, while school is on, weekends aren’t always down time. A lot of group projects tend to meet then, so I can end up working right through day, but usually when I am free, I end up either on Netflix, or reaching out to one of the friends I’ve made through Instagram and heading out to photograph and grab some coffee.

What keeps you motivated every day?

Externally, my family. My grandparents and parents are the hardest workers I know and their relentless efforts are what keep me striving for more. Internally, it is the drive to leave behind something that can be remembered, and to know that perhaps one day I can make a mark on someone else’s life for the better, even if it is just one person.

In your opinion, where do you see the future of photography heading?

I think at this point, with the surge of photographers being able to reach larger audiences with social media, social photography and storytelling will really be at the forefront of successful photographers. Taking photographs that are beautiful to look at will no longer be enough – with a globalized audience, photographs will instead have to convey emotion, meaning, and a story.

What do you plan to do after university? Do you have any plans to move back to Thailand?

Yes. I don’t think I can call anywhere other than Bangkok, home. As for my plans, I am still undecided at the moment.

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