Arvind Suresh’s Subconscious Love of Photography

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By Christopher Cussat

Arvind Suresh is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who also works at the Magee Women’s Research Institute. In addition to being an amateur photographer, Suresh enthusiastically describes himself as a “foodie” and an “information junkie.”

Currently in his work as a basic science researcher, Suresh focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that control the process of labor during pregnancy. “I’m doing this research in the hope that this will help treat the problem of preterm labor—which is a major healthcare issue around the world.”

According to Suresh, along with his interests in science, he has always been drawn towards artistic pursuits. He adds, “In a way, science is an art form too, which is probably why I love doing it.” Suresh explains that photography was always his first love because he was exposed to it at a very young age. “This is thanks to my dad, who apart from being a doctor, is also an excellent photographer. I have been pursuing amateur photography for several years now and it is my major hobby.”

In addition to photography, Suresh also briefly caught the acting bug and took a shot at auditioning for a stage play after coming to Pittsburgh. He landed a major role in the comedy, “Moonshine and Skytoffee,” which was produced by the Blue Mango theater group and presented at the New Hazlett Theater in the summer of 2009. “During this opportunity, I discovered that I quite enjoy acting too,” he notes.

Suresh explains why he is specifically drawn to the creative outlet of photography. “There is just something about the still image and capturing or freezing a moment in time that has always kept me hooked. Maybe it is the fact that when you look at a picture, you see through the photographer’s eyes to try and see what he or she saw at that moment.” Conversely, Suresh adds that when he takes a picture, he looks at a subject and subconsciously finds himself forming a story that he wants to narrate. “A great photograph is a story of a thousand words that are exquisitely weaved in a fabric of light and color.”

Although it is not always easy, Suresh does his best to balance his professional and educational time demands with dedicating time to his photography. “Photography, especially landscape and nature photography (which I particularly like), require a lot of time spent outdoors—so I try and do it whenever I get to travel. Usually either during weekend trips near Pittsburgh or when I travel for conferences, I often try and squeeze in some photography outings.” He notes that now with digital photography being as easy as it is, and not having to worry about storage, he can sometimes end up with hundreds of shots each trip and has to spend a significant amount of additional time sorting through them as well.

If he were not doing research, Suresh admits that he would consider photography as an alternative career. “But making a career out of a hobby is no small feat and I’ve always admired those who have managed to step out of the comfort zone to do that! It would be tough to make it work, but I would certainly try,” he notes.

Suresh concludes that this interview gave him an opportunity for some interesting reflections. “I’ve always thought about why I love photography and if I would consider it as a career and things like that, but never had an opportunity to put it into words {until now}.” He adds that the process also triggered off a series of inspiring personal and professional thoughts. “Research has its natural share of successes and failures. Sometimes it’s quite hard when your experiments don’t work—I look back and it has been three years of work with many failures! But these questions really made me think about why I do science in the first place—and that made me feel much better about all that I do!”

To see more of Arvind’s work, visit http://arvindsuresh.smugmug.com.