Merging Contemporary & Hand Coloured Vintage Photography

Tara McManus is a fashion and portrait photographer from London who is now based in Mumbai. Prior to moving here she was living and working in Bangalore for 4 years. Here is a snippet of her journey so far!

What or who inspired you to be a photographer?

 My late father was a huge inspiration in my pursuing photography as a career. He was the first person to show me how to use an analogue camera and test out different kinds of film. 

I always knew that I would end up doing something in the creative field as I would always draw, paint and watch my grandmother(s) stitch or knit in fascination. 

During all our family holidays my dad was the man with the camera; therefore you’d never see him in the pictures. His determination to get the perfect image always inspired and still inspires me in my work.

Could you tell us a little bit about your hand-coloured photographs & the process for the same ?

I have always been inspired by traditional hand-coloured photographs from the late 19th century of samurai warriors, specifically, for most of my fashion work. I always intended on trying my hand at it. It wasn’t until early 2019 that a friend commissioned me for one in her new houses in Bangalore that I had the confidence to pursue it further. The reason for her commissioning me was because about 8 months prior to that, we had discussed this concept in detail and how I wanted to combine both of my passions into one. 

The material I use is photographic print on canvas, on which I paint with either watercolours, acrylics, oils, or all of the above.

The technique is traditional, however, I incorporate contemporary elements and colours to enhance the images.

What photography do you specialize in? 

I specialise in people, portraits and fashion. 

What do you intend to convey through your photography & art?

With most of my art and photography, I like to capture the emotions and personality of the subject. While the hand paintings stick to a more traditional idea of art, my photographs still have a very modern approach to them.

Is photography a lucrative career for you and how do you procure work?

To be honest, in order for me to sustain myself in a new city, especially in a city like Bombay, is tough. The thing I seem to be doing the most is networking every week though - or meeting potential clients through other potential clients and/ or acquaintances. That is how I usually procure work. I also get in touch with brands directly. Most recently I got myself a manager so that I can get work from other creative avenues as well.*

What is the funniest and probably rather tiresome but rewarding shoot you have been on?

I think the funniest shoot or piece of work I created in the recent past was when I was commissioned by my friend to take a photograph of her and hand paint onto it. She wanted the canvas to be her height - which was to be hung in her house. When we got all the materials and the print and everything together, we decided to paint TOGETHER, a concept I was dabbling with (client interaction), but it’s ended up being quite traumatic for me because of her almost ruining it! In the end, it worked out and she still has it up in her house in Bangalore.*

What do pictures mean to you?

Nostalgia & art.

What equipment do you use for professional & on the go images?

I use a Canon 5D mkiiii and a Canon 6D. But for me, it’s mainly down to the lens. Otherwise on the go would be on my iPhone, after CLEANING the lens.

What advice would you give an amateur photographer?

Keep shooting until you understand composure and lighting properly. Also, stop using the word ‘click’ for anything other than the sound of your camera shutter.

If you had a secret power, what would it be?

That’s a tough question. But I think it would be time travel so that I could relive certain moments - thankfully photography does that though.

Where can one find all of your work? 

Mainly Instagram and my website.

Instagram: @taraloumc


 About Tara:

Tara McManus is a fashion and portrait photographer from London who is now based in Mumbai. Prior to moving here she was living and working in Bangalore for 4 years. She also specialises in hand colouring, an old technique used to make black and white photographs into colour with paint or ink. In September 2019, she had an exhibition entitled, ‘Female Warriors’, which, will also be showcased in Mumbai very soon. 

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