Hiya, I’m Mathushaa Sagthidas, a 22-year-old Tamil British photographer, creative director, and stylist with strong interests in fine art and contemporary fashion; I’m also currently studying photography in my final year. How did you get started in photography?
I actually never studied photography academically until university. My interest for photography sparked after doing a one or two week work shop, apart of my work experience for school and that’s where it all changed and I really started to consider doing photography as a degree despite never having studied it before. How has the pandemic affected your work?
At first, it was stressful as I’m so used to working with so many amazing south Asian creatives for shoots, I wasn’t sure how to adjust. However still being in university meant that I didn’t really much choice but to adapt and I’m so happy I did. I discovered so many new types of photography from product to still life and self portraits - some with my mum as well, which has been an sentimental and inspiring experience. Who are your biggest inspirations?
My biggest inspirations come from so many south Asian creatives that I know, social media but most importantly my mum. So many of my sentimental and nostalgic conversations that I’ve had with my mum have led many new ideas but also memorable moments How does your culture influence your work?
Majority is influenced by conversations that I have with my mum about various aspects of Tamil culture, lifestyle and Hinduism as my religion but a lot of my work is also influenced by fusing traditional Tamil clothing with London culture.
What are you most proud of so far in your career?
One of my most proud moments of my career is taking part in DOOH art in residence with Clear Channel UK and POCC. Seeing my work, especially an image of me and my mum across billboards in the UK is an amazing feeling and achievement. What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome with your work?
Having to find new ways to adjust and adapt creatively, knowing I would limited to one environment for a while and being aware that I wouldn’t be able to collaborate with other south Asian creatives. How do you get out of creative ruts?
For me it’s looking for inspiration on Instagram, especially from south Asian creatives I know - there’s so many talented people that I am following but also looking on Pinterest for visual inspiration but for a concept, I tend to have conversations with my mum.
Do you partake in any other creative mediums besides photography?
Yes I do take part in other creative medium, I studied fine art academically for more than 5 years. I used to do a lot of drawing, painting and sculpture work, something that I have carried on during my university projects, especially sculpture and drawing work. What advice do you have for young photographers just starting out?
I guess for young and upcoming photographers, the advice that I would give is start working on building that website, create portfolios and getting your work on socials media at a young age, because it will pay off the more you grow as a photographer. What has your photography taught you about life?
Doing photography has meant that I’ve been able to get involved in various aspects of the creative industry and what I’ve learned is that the creative industry does lack representation, not just of south Asians but people of color in general - it made me rethink some of my past experiences and realize how there were occasions that I was the only South Asian in the room at times
How has your work evolved over the years?
My photography was always centered around fashion photography but it became more centered and focused on south Asian/ Tamil culture after a project that I completed in my second year of university, titled ஒரு தீவிலிருந்து ஒரு நகரம் meaning “A city away from an Island”; reflecting my Tamil and London culture through fashion. What are your goals for 2021?
Currently, my goals in terms of my creative career are finding a job in the creative industry where I would be able to bring in my creative touch but work on making the industry more diverse and inclusive rather than freelancing. Where do see yourself in 5 years?
Five years is a very long time away and COVID being an unexpected aspect of the plan has made it even harder to pinpoint. However no matter I will still be creating and collaborating with so many talented creatives. Why do you think minority representation is important in media?
Authentic and genuine representation of ethnic minorities, without a sense of tokenism, is important. It’s important for everyone to have role models and see themselves represented in the media. Do you have any upcoming projects?
Yes, I do have a fair few coming up that we’re delayed by COVID, so excited to be working on them - I know they’re going to be amazing. Is there anything else you would like us to know/include in the interview?
I guess a final tip would be is that something I’ve learned is that no matter what, keep your personal practice going because you never where the work could and opportunities you may receive because of them.
BIO Mathushaa photography showcases a strong interest in fine art, contemporary fashion, and styling; skills further studying fashion promotion at Ravensbourne University London and fine art photography at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL. Mathushaa’s work often examines her identity - Tamil Eelam ethnicity and British nationality, which is a pivotal part of her work. This complex cultural identity is often reflected through traditions, history, and strongly by fashion photography. Studying fashion promotion has enabled her to develop a style rich in cultural and historical references through fashion photography. Her shoots often incorporate handcrafted elements through styling, prop making, and theatrical settings; something she has loved doing since studying fine art at school. Mathushaa's work has been featured on Graduate Fashion Week, Fashion Scout, FAD Charity, Anisha Parmar London, MESA Magazine, Asian Woman Festival, and more. Feel free to check it out!