All In Good Light: Meet Fine Art Photographer Raj Manickam

Written by Artie The Panda

Observation and curiosity can be a powerful combination. Raj Manickam employs both virtues regularly in the mountains of Colorado, where he captures the beauty of nature and humanity with his camera—“all in good light,” as his website’s URL proclaims.

Image Meets Prose

In the Photo Essays section of his website, Raj reveals the stories behind his images. One that particularly caught our eye here at Frame Destination was “Juniper’s Last Gasp.” The essay chronicles how a dead juniper that Raj had driven past “haunted” him until he returned to photograph it. Two weeks later, he took photos while touring a waste-processing center. The third piece of the puzzle was discovering the “in-camera overlay” function on his Nikon D850. Voila, “Juniper’s Last Gasp” was born. 

Photo Meets Frame

“Juniper’s Last Gasp” was part of Colorado’s juried exhibition, Art of the State 2022, earlier this year. Raj tells us that he frames his work using Frame Destination’s Wood Frame Profile 876 in black, Papermat WC-4Ply, and Anti-Reflective Water White Art Glass AR70. “I love the products from Frame Destination working in sync with my art photographs,” Raj says. “They work hand-in-hand for a fine art finish at exhibits.” 

See More of Raj’s Work 

You can see a wide range of images on Raj’s website, All in Good Light, where along with Photo Essays, you’ll find galleries for Abstract, Art Photography, and Street Photography. There’s also a cool section showcasing his use of ICM, intentional camera movement. If you visit Pueblo, Colorado, between now and May 21, you can catch a show by Photo Pensato, a collective Raj belongs to, at Sangre De Cristo Arts Center. And my Q&A below divulges how Raj got started, his most indispensable tools, and how his Eastern heritage pairs well with 20 years of Western perspective.

Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with Raj Manickam …

1. What is your background; how did you get started?

For years, I have noticed the kinds of images others might let pass without a second glance. About six years ago, I acquired my first digital camera. I started taking photography classes at the local college to hone my technical skills. Since then, images no longer escape my lens. I capture everything from sudden moments to everyday occurrences and translate them into fine, yet relatable, art. I strive to shine a light on the reality of human experience through composition and honest storytelling. I am using my Eastern culture’s rich language and over two decades of Western point-of-view to draw in my viewers and tell a uniquely framed story. All in good light!

2. How important is it for a photographer to "connect" with their subject?

My photos range in subject from the environment to human interest depiction. These images are often partnered with essays that tell even more of the narratives. I like to discover the engagement between the image and the story. Fundamentals of fine art, abstract, storytelling, and deep awareness emerge in a variety of my images.

3. What has been a formative experience or the best advice you’ve received within your career?

Shoot always and never leave home without my camera.

4. In what ways does your work reflect your personality?

My photography starts with the art of observation. The act of observation comes from paying attention to one’s environment. I’m using that element of the witness consciously. My photos are my voice first. After it leaves my lens and shows up on a screen or paper, it becomes, or may then be, someone else’s voice and interpretation. 

5. Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?

I carry my cameras most of the time — with me or in my car. With photography, I sometimes plan, and at times, I wander. Often I saunter in the wrong direction. I am drawn to places where I am mostly in quietude, even among people.

6. What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)

I embrace awareness and observation as an art. And I use CC Express (formerly Adobe Spark) as a creative outlet to write my photo stories. 

7. Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?

I’m currently involved in an exhibit with a collective. Several of us are doing a show at Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley at Edwards, Colorado.

8. What "fad" gadget do you most regret purchasing?

An intelligent camera assistant [device that determines camera settings for you]. 

All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.

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Last Updated March 23, 2022