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No Shades of Grey in This Young IAS Officer

Loud colours do not fascinate IAS officer Vivek K V as much as black and white do His colour preference is perhaps a reflection of how he looks at life Having seen the stark reality of life from an early age, he learned to capture it as it is
Indian Masterminds Stories

As a child, Vivek K V looked forward to Fridays. On this day, every week, he accompanied his mother to the cinema hall in his hometown Thalassery, in Kannur district of Kerala, to watch a film. His mother used to exclaim out loud, “what a shot!”, every time some scene touched her senses. Unbeknownst to both, these were the first lessons on photography for little Vivek. Every time his mother could not hold back her excitement, he looked long and hard at the screen and absorbed in the details. This eye for detail stood him in good stead throughout his IIT-IIM and UPSC days, and is now helping him in IAS, too. His documentations are meticulous. 

Today, as a fresh SDM in Baihar in Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh, the IAS officer never travels without his camera. Wherever he goes, whichever field he visits, be it an anganwadi or a panchayat office, he goes click, click, click, capturing every moment for eternity. What started as an interest at the age of 13, while flipping through Nat Geo magazines in libraries, has grown into a passion that heightens with every passing year.

IAS Vivek K V
IAS officer Vivek K V

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, 2020 batch IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, Vivek K V, shared how his work and photography blend effortlessly to complement each other perfectly.

SEEING WHAT OTHERS CAN’T SEE

When out on field visits, Mr. Vivek’s constant companion is his camera. He never moves out of his office or residence without it. And, it is not the phone camera! A Sony Alpha 6400 and a Ricoh GR III go with him. The former he uses for landscape and the latter for street.

Anything that captivates him, anything he finds strikingly ordinary, he captures with the lens. His penetrating eyes see the extra in the ordinary and captures it for posterity.

I don’t just capture faces. Mine are not portraits. I capture faces along with their environments. No particular genre as such, but you can call it street photography,” he said.

Street Photography by IAS officer Vivek K V
Street Photography by IAS officer Vivek K V

MADE FOR EACH OTHER

This passion for capturing the mundane, the routine, the ordinary is proving to be beneficial in his IAS career, as documentation is an integral part of his work. In fact, it complements his work by making his documentation more accurate and more powerful.

He said, “Usually, the documentation is in writing and figures. In my case, it is also in photographs. And, visuals always have a bigger impact. My photographs speak so much more than words.”

Another of his gem

BLACK & WHITE

However, although his photographs lend an extra layer to his documentation, when it comes to following his passion, he is a traditionalist. He prefers black and white photography. He explains why: “I feel that colours distract. Why play with colours when you can let the real light frame the stark portrayal, in black and white?

Nothing is more powerful than the truth, and for him, truth is black and white. He has had no formal training in photography. His first lessons were in the cinema hall, first teacher was Nat Geo, and first camera was a Nikon bought in a buzzing Kolkata bazaar while he was studying in IIM Calcutta. He draws inspiration from his favourite photographers Fan Ho, Ernst Haas, Eliot Erwitt, Saul Leiter and Sebastio Salgado, while he hopes to hold exhibitions of his collections sometime soon.

A signature Vivek KV capture

Lastly, the black and white photographer made it known plainly that he wants to be known more for his photography than for being in the IAS, with a subtle request to let his photographs do most, if not all, of the speaking.


Indian Masterminds Stories

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