Photographer of the week – Pratap J, Landscape photography

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I) Your pictures speak for themselves, tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and brought up in a big metropolitan city. I did the same drill as everyone around me. Studied for marks, got a corporate job, and ended up behind a computer punching something abstract for 8 hours a day. This routine didn’t excite me one bit, but it gave me an opportunity to do things that were above the financial capabilities of my parents. That is when the world opened up for me. With the money I earned, I could travel to new places, play with new toys, and live life on my own terms.

My photography is a natural extension of my love for nature. When I was growing up, the only jungle I came in contact with was the concrete one. But today I know that these external factors don’t matter. If you are true to yourself, you will eventually find your natural expression. I can never stop being amazed by the big and boundless world. I have a deep love for nature and animals and this is what fuels my photography. If you ask me who I am, I’d say I am an inspired individual. For me, without inspiration life is meaningless.

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2) As an experienced traveller in your opinion how important is planning for the trip? And how much planning do you do?

pratapj_cambyte-10There are two distinct approaches to photography. One of them is a spontaneous, spur of the moment, documentary style photography. The other is a calculated approach where you plan everything down to the latitude and longitude of where you want to be during the golden hour (hint: check out http://photoephemeris.com). Depending on what I am shooting, I follow either one of the two styles. When I am focussed on landscapes, I always plan my trips diligently. When I am shooting in the street or documenting a place, I let spontaneity take over.

India is a very unpredictable place. It is difficult to execute your plans because of various external factors. Many times, my itinerary has been ruined by road conditions, undependable drivers, bureaucracy, traffic jams and what not. So it is important to be prepared mentally for all this. I plan my photography in advance, but I improvise based on the given situation. This requires me to think on my feet. In an ideal world, I’d like to suspend my thought process once I wear my creative hat and get into the mental zone of shooting. But experience has taught me to be agile and flexible. I also revisit places a lot. Each visit is a new experience which yields a totally unique set of photos.

3) Since you get only one Sunrise and Sunset per day, how do you plan your Sunrise and Sunset shoots?

This entirely depends on the location of the shoot. Sometimes the only time I switch on my camera is during sunrise and sunset. Sometimes I am exploring the town or city and shooting during most of the day. When I am not behind the viewfinder, I am generally in front of my laptop. I am big on keeping my photos organised. So I try to finish downloading, culling and sorting while on the road.pratapj_cambyte-5

4)Which is your favorite among your photographs and the story behind the picture?

I don’t have any one favourite photo. I am too self-critical for that. My favourites also keep changing as time passes. However, to respond to the spirit of the question, I pick this photo from Badami as my current favourite. It is very difficult to get a unique photo of historical monuments. In the case of this photo, nature decided to help me by painting a rainbow in the sky. I did not have too long to make this photo. For one, rainbows disappear fast. Secondly, I was illegally using a tripod because ASI does not permit their use in protected sites. Considering the pressure I was in while creating this frame, it didn’t turn out too bad.

5) How important is fitness for landscape photography?

The fitter you are, the farther you can get. The farther you can get, the more you can accomplish. As a landscape photographer, my gear is not just my camera. A set of filters and my tripod is also always on me. Not to mention water, protective clothing and something to replenish my energy. My backpack generally weighs 8 to 9 kilos. Without being fit, I cannot hike to the top of the mountain or get to vantage points which give me amazing photographic opportunities.

6) What are the skills that every landscape photographer must possess ?

Knowing how to camp, cook, and live by yourself in a remote place is a priceless skill. In fact, many of the Western landscape photographers spend a good deal of time in the outdoors all by themselves. I can’t claim to posses great camping skills. Luckily for me, I have been able to hire guides and porters during my travels in the wild. So all is not lost if you are like me.

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7) What is the best advice you can give someone who wants to click amazing photographs

Kaup Beach, KarnatakaThere are three things I’d tell every photography enthusiast:

1) Know the basics. The fundamentals of photography haven’t changed much since its inception. There is no excuse for not knowing what happens inside the box that you are holding when you press the shutter button.

2) Think beyond social media. A lot of photographers get sucked into the vortex of social media popularity. Think like an artist, not like a marketing person.

3) Be your own competition. This way, you’ll never settle for someone else’s position.

8) In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?

A good photograph is the one that best conveys the photographer’s heart and mind. A good photograph does not need an explanation. A good photograph is grounded in the fundamentals of art. A good photograph is the one that moves, inspires, and helps the viewer reach a special place.

You check out Pratap’s work on his

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All images used in this article are a copyright of Pratap J

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