Jovy Thomas is a part-time portrait photographer from Hyderabad, India who specialises in outdoor and natural light photography. Before embarking on a career as a photographer, Jovy worked as a Graphic Designer on two television channels in India and also worked as a video editor on the movie, Hamlet (2007). It wasn’t until she had children that she realised she fancied a change in career. After taking photos of events happening in her community, she gained interest from families who admired her work, and it was then that her journey began.
How did you get into the world of photography?
I took Multimedia for my Masters. The course has a combination of Media subjects and photography was part of it. This was back in the year 2004, and back then we used film rolls and sometimes developed our pictures in the darkroom.
A lot of your photographs are taken outdoors. Tell us why.
I like the results of my outdoor photoshoots more than the indoor ones. There is a saying by Nathaniel Hawthorne that ‘sunlight is painting’. I believe that. The main thing I want in my pictures is a painting like effect, and outdoor shooting helps me attain that effect.
What do you enjoy most about shooting outdoors?
What I like most about outdoor shoots is that depending on the seasons, I get a different look in the images taken. During summer it is a play of light and shadows, during winter it’s the fog in the background and in the rainy season the dewdrops on the branches and leaves. Similarly, the joy of capturing a totally leafy branch in full bloom during Spring. I enjoy seeing these changes and the unique feel conveyed into the photos taken outdoors.
What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?
Freezing precious moments of life and creating blissful memories. Seeing photographs bring us back to the moment. We may remember some incidents that happened that day, how the air smelled, how we appeared during those times, what we had gained, what are we missing now. Personally, I feel that it brings back a combination of emotions, which, I would say, is the most rewarding part of being a photographer.
Do you remember your very first shoot?
My very first professional photo shoot was that of a lady’s portfolio session, she had recently given birth to a baby and wanted to finally do something for herself, something to get over the exhaustion from a long period of waking hours and caring for the little one. I wanted her to feel confident about herself when looking at the pictures I had taken, and I’m proud to say that my pictures did exactly that.
Photographing children can be challenging. What’s the secret to getting the perfect shot?
I make sure that the children are well-fed and rested before the shoot. If they are cranky, I wait for some time. Once they are ok, I am able to do the session without much interruption. I like to photograph children when they are enjoying their surroundings and playing with the props that are nearby. Thus, we get lovely expressions and reactions from them.
Do you have a favourite photograph of all the ones you’ve taken over the years?
My favourite one is a picture of my husband and my daughter. It was taken during our vacation in Ooty, India. This was not a pre-planned moment. My daughter has a way of bringing a special smile on to her father’s face, so when I saw that our children were having a fun moment with their father, I immediately took some pictures. This picture became my favourite of all.
What do you do in your life besides photography?
I am a homemaker. I help my children with their studies, but I also read books, travel and I love watching movies.
How much editing goes into each photograph you take?
I take my time to edit pictures—it usually ranges from 50 minutes to two hours. I ponder, check, review the output, and often experiment with new tools and methods. Sometimes I re-edit. This process goes on until I feel fully satisfied with the output.
Does Affinity Photo allow you to do that easily?
Yes of course. Affinity Photo is very user-friendly. I love the tools, especially the ones like Healing brush and Inpainting brush tools. They work like magic. So do the Develop Persona and Tone Mapping Persona.
Do you have a typical capturing and editing process?
I usually capture images (during the outdoor shoot) between 3.30 pm and 5.30 pm to avoid harsh sunlight. Since I mostly capture children, I keep AI Servo mode setting and higher shutter speed (above 1/250). I try to imagine how a picture will look if someone paints them and then edit according to that vision. Curves, gradients, paintbrush, levels, colour balance and selective colour tools are my usual favourite tools for editing.
What is your favourite thing to photograph?
Emotions shown by a subject. Sometimes when I show children a balloon or bubbles, it is amazing to see their eyes shine with instant happiness. So, I would say, a display of genuine emotions is what I most enjoy capturing in my photographs.
At what age did you become interested in photography?
I was 25 when I first showed an interest in photography. After my husband and I got married, we went on trips around India and abroad and it was then that I started to photograph places. My interest then grew a lot more after the pictures I captured of my friends and family were noticed and won considerable appreciation.
What do you think makes a good photographer?
I feel finding and appreciating beauty even in the simplest things of life makes a good photographer. It might be a small everyday moment such as a hug that a child gives a parent or sibling, but to be able to notice and capture the beauty of it and add that artistic perspective of your own mind to it, is what good photography is all about.
Tell us a little bit about your history as a photographer.
I had been working as a video editor initially, but after having children I wanted a break. It just so happened that during celebrations like Holi and Navratri in our apartment community, I took pictures of the festivities such as that of throwing colours and of dandiya played during Navratri. When I shared it with my community, it was well-received, and much appreciated. Following that, some families approached me for their family photo session. Slowly enquires increased and I bought a professional camera and lenses. Thus, the journey began.
What are some of the things that inspire your shoots?
Movies inspire me a lot. While watching them I try to observe the camera angles and how they frame scenery, position people etc. Those observations are often translated into my photoshoots.
Why is photography important to you?
For me, it is a way to remind myself that there is beauty in everything, even in grass, weeds or in withered leaves. Each creation adds to the beauty of the other and is indispensable when you look at the whole picture. This keen appreciation of the aesthetic quality of all things around me, and the awareness of how each aspect of a composition compliments every other aspect gives me a grateful heart that understands that every moment is nothing but a celebration of being alive.