Q&A on Travel Photography with Photokatha.in
1. How do you think travelling and photography came to you? Do you remember the moment you realized you were hooked on travel?
Oh How I wish, I were a teenage traveler. But I am a late bloomer. Sighs.
Well, I always wanted to travel, But It never happened in school. I was a day scholar, least aware of What activities were going on around me and always busy in my studies and at home. My family isn't very vacation friendly either. We just went for religious outings as kids or to my grandpa's or granni's place during holidays. I finished my studies extra early and traveled across globe for work and thats when I realized I wanted to see more. and more.
Photography, however began a lot later. When I came back to bangalore in Early 2009, I did my first hike to a peak in Beautiful Western Ghats, also called southern himalayas. It took me no time to get my first ever DSLR and go on my next trek. So you can say, Nature was my inspiration.
2. As a photographer, how did you manage to travel with equipments? Share some tips with us on photography while traveling?
Best Bet? "Get an assistant". Just kidding. I wish it was that easy, BUT, Its not. Honestly I am not too strong. So the best way for me to carry equipments is to distribute them. I keep all my lenses/ camera bodies in multiple size weather-proof and double-cushioned utility bags, So while traveling I can through em anywhere in my luggage, They make nice independent bags as well, So I can pick 2 bags put them in my simple tote, or hand bag and take em anywhere with me. If incase I have to carry everything at once, I have this lowepro vest/ harness that I generally use for long travels. I can attach these bags to vest using sliplock. Its easy and nope no backache problems, about tripod, I do not carry tripod unless I figure I can not do w/ out it. and when I carry it. I cry like a 2 yrs old.
3. You are known for giving great travel tips on your blog But what is the best travel tip you’ve ever received?
Not many know that I never planned to roam around ladakh alone, I planned this trip with my trekking group and initially seven people were interested, but as fate would have it, no body turned up. I had by then decided to go there any how and live like a local until I am ready to leave. So when Manali route was continuously blocked due to snow and Srinagar had the curfew situation, I was very scared to embark on a the trip alone and wasn't sure how to begin this long trip on a good note. and then someone asked me why wasn't I taking a flight? and I go like... what? How come it dint occur to me earlier?
Yup as simple as that. I believe if you start your travel on a good note and build you foundation nicely, you can then go to any extent and take up the hardship. I went to the India-Pakistan border village Turtuk all by myself. actually I was the first person, and a girl to visit that place alone. the Head of the police station in Turtuk was freaking out, But I made it. Had tons of issue in Kargil since public transportation is very problematic there. But It was all easy once I was familiar with Leh.
4. In your travels around the world, you enjoy getting to know local people. What is your favorite experience connecting with locals?
Interacting w/ locals is huge part of my experiencing a place. I have this philosophy. If you show genuine interest in someone's life, they will automatically entrust you, open up to you, invite you in to their lives and thats true with strangers too, no matter where you are.
I think my favorite has to be interacting with Changpa nomads in Rupshu valley ladakh. I had heard about them when I was in Leh, so when I reached Tsomiriri, I trekked to the valley where they were camping, was spotted and picked up by two curious kids who couldn't let me go until they ate all the chocolates I had, and met their moms, did a tour of their tents, and had multiple cups of tea made with yak and sheep milk. so You see I kinda got lucky. and Oh did I mention, we had all our conversation in sign language. because they couldn't understand a word i said even though i constantly kept blabbering.
5. The badges on your blog, Suggest bloggers how they can also use them for their blog..and which method.
The Badges are like your earning through time. You were published somewhere, quoted, appreciated etc, then you can put up the badge on your site to show that easily, for me its also an easy way linking my blog to those individual pages, since they are pretty much all outside my sitemap, and Also a way to tell them how much I appreciated them appreciating me. Umm, you get the point.
6. Suggest 5 tips you can give for better writing and good photography mantra.
Alright. Photography first.
- Shoot every image, thinking you're going to print this 30X40 and hang it on your living room wall. Do you want to click the shutter now?
- Framing First. - whether its square format, vertical shot or a horizontal one, Nothing hurts me more than a bad composition. take your time, Learn to put your elements of importance at right places in your frame and judge if they are looking good to you "together, with each other", if not, discard it. Trust your eyes, You're the first person who's seeing the image that you just shot. if its doesn't talk to you, It can not talk to anyone. Be your own critic whether its composition or processing, you should know what your clicking and you must have a solid explanation for that.
- Don't ever touch that Saturation Slider in Photoshop. Its a murderer. Try using selective coloring instead. and No its not for just painting your lips red in B&W portrait. you get my point.
- HDR is big NO. Understand that it can work on certain photographs and it wont on others. Basically No over-processing.
- Keep going back to the images you shot in the past. question yourself, What you could have done better then, save the RAW files, process again, make note the difference and you would know if you've grown as an artist.
- I should've mentioned this point under photography, But I think it applied to every art in general and that is, to Observe. Spend some quite time, give a good look at whats going on around you, what exists, and what your thought about it really are. I think Art is our way of appreciating life. we chose the medium we think we can best convey ourselves.
- Flow is extremely important for me. its like connecting dots. Its like having a conversation. Shaping up your thoughts, and conveying them. In a conversation, one topic can lead to another but they all are still related. Your writing should make your reader have a 1-o-1 w/ you even while you' ain't there physically, and that one reader is your special someone.
- No Breaks. They kill the flow. try writing in one go, from start to end. of course it wont work for books, but you got chapters in there too right.
- Be clear, Stay true. cant stress that enough. Write simple unless you're a student of literature and you want to impress your teacher w/ your vocabulary.
- Last but not the least, go back, read what you wrote, this is not only important to correct the typos, but to make sure the flow you wanted is not broken.
7. Do you have idol or an inspiration for travelling or photography?
Its very hard to impress me, and thats equally true if its I impressing myself. But I get influenced very quickly, certain conflicting personality traits or sort that I have and I cant change much of. so I try to stay away from looking at lot of images or reading similar work and I dont have one person whose work, I am crazy about, No. Instead, I like to pick up good points of/from several artists of multiple genres and w/ different style of working, those I can use to improve my style and what I want to put across. I think one connects to those who at some level is similar to you, e.g. thought process, angle of camera, selection of subjects etc. I love Steve McCurry' work, but tell me who doesn't? and thats exactly one's photography should be right? that touches everybody. I like how Ansel Adam creates blocks of light and shadow and the geometry of it. I like how Jay Patel tilt his camera to put something interesting in the foreground in his landscape, thats something I feel connected to. I love how Anoop Negi pick ups interesting subjects from the crowd. I simply adore how my friend Archana Srinivas, picks of little things in her house and make these gorgeous DIY photos. I also find Brooke Shaden's self portrait techniques very appealing and something I can attempt easily, ( I suck at self-portraits btw :( ) so they are all my teachers one way or the other.
I have recently started interacting w/ many travelers through twitter, and well I have to say, I have traveled, not even 1% of what they have. They are all my inspiration. If I contemplate a little more, I feel I am yet to travel a lot more before I can truly call myself a traveler and also know more travelers, in person, before I can find my idol. I am still too young and a novice at this.
8. If forced to choose, what would you say is your favorite destination so far? Or What destination is at the top of your bucket list currently?
Interesting, because I am where I want to be right now. Technically, Yes. I am in New York now, and desperately yet very patiently waiting for fall season to arrive and show me some brilliant hues of red, orange and yellows, and where can I best find those than east coast. I am hoping to head little up north to New England or perhaps follow the colors all the way to Canada this fall, I mean, absolutely wherever I can find them and good landscapes to shoot, so lots of national park trip coming up in next few months, also coming winter, I want to be in Alaska for you know what. So this is pretty much my dormant period and Fall + Winter will be my action time.
9. Your images are on getty images. Please explain to our readers how can they can take this process for showcasing their photographs too.
If you're active on flickr, you know flickr has this option, where you can choose to license your images through Getty images, You can find this in your settings panel. once you do that, Getty's editors who are on flickr too, can look through your photo-stream and invite your images to be part of Getty collection.
And if that doesn't happen for long, and you can't wait any longer, pick up 10-12 of your best images, doesn't matter they are SLR shots or iPhone or any other camera. create a set on flickr and send the link to Getty's editor, and like Getty says, If that really catches Getty Images’ eye!, You'd be onboard in no time.
10. As solo traveler to Ladakh, please give tips and information as to how one needs to be careful and what all can be done pre and post travel.
Ladakh, according to me, is safest to travel alone. Local people are the friendliest most and very helpful indeed. so one shouldn't have much problem as such, but you can do few things such as,
- find out about your Friends /Acquaintances from FB/Twitter circle if anyone is traveling during your trip. exchange each others contact info. if possible catch up for a meal when they are there. trust me, finding a familiar face, is a great way to connect to a strange place.
- When it comes to lodging, go w/ the recommendations from your friends and book 3-4 days stay in advance. Once you know you can sleep safely and peacefully at night. You know you can be confident enough to wander anywhere in the world and explore it all on your own. plus you can always explore the area and change places as per your convenience later.
PS. Photokatha sent me this questionnaire 6 months ago. and I couldnt work on it as i was country hopping and had absolutely no time to write back. sorry about that. I loved the questions though. so posting 'em on the blog too since I feel these Q/A here are pretty useful for my readers, and some of these i haven't covered before in any other post.