Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where do you live and where are you from? How long has photography been a hobby or career of yours and what motivated you to get started?
I’m from Lucknow and currently pursuing Mass Comm from Whistling Woods International, Mumbai. I started photography when I was 14. I was in class 8th that time. My father had to go out of India for an official tour for which he had bought a DSLR. Fortunately, he forgot to take the camera and it was all mine for the next 15 days. That’s how photography started. The curiosity to know different cultures and be at different places has always been there since my childhood days. Camera became a companion that lived my vision and thus, photography became a medium to keep safe my experiences and memories. There is a story, an emotion, an expression in everything around us, which I want to show to the world. What matters to me is the story, the emotion, the expression in things around us, and that is what I try to bring out through my work for the world to see. For me, photography is not about wandering and using my camera to click what pleases the eyes, it is deeper than that. It’s about getting to know the story behind it. I want to know the subject, understand their feelings, the reason for it being that way. I travel alone to understand the different symphonies of life. Solo traveling has so much to offer. Travel for me is exploration, of being able to follow one’s curiosity to continually learn and question. Travel is about going to a place and having all your assumptions and what you thought you knew of the world turned completely upside down. It’s about breaking down fears and realizing what is possible. All these things excite me and make me travel more.
What matters to me is the story, the emotion, the expression in things around us, and that is what I try to bring out through my work for the world to see.
Did you take any professional course in Photography or went to any of the Photography schools?
I have always been against the idea of going to a photography school or taking photography courses. Photography is something which one should learn on his or her own. It is the experience which helps one to shoot better. I still remember, I used to wake up at 4 in the morning and go out to shoot in the perfect light, when I had just begun photography. It has been 8 years and I continue to do so. You always have things to learn. One can never be perfect. The good thing about not being perfect is that you always try to be perfect. The learning never stops.
Artists you looked upon in your initial stages in this field?
The very first photograph which inspired me to click was the famous portrait, The Afghan Girl, by Steve Mccurry. Steve Mccurry has always been an inspiration to me. The way he composes his pictures is truly amazing. His pictures talk.
Tell us about your Photography Equipment?
I’m a Nikon person. The first camera that I shot with was a Nikon D5000. A couple of years after that, I bought a Nikon D7000. It was in 2014, when I bought my first full frame camera, a Nikon D4s and I have been very happy with it’s performance.
I have a 14-24mm f2.8 Nikkor lens, a 50mm f 1.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8.
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
I mostly use my PC for editing photos. I’m very comfortable and used to it. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are the two softwares that I use for editing. I always use Photoshop when I have to edit my photographs in detail. Lightroom is very convenient but it’s for basic editing only.
Mac or PC, your preference and why?
For me personally, the PC makes more sense to use for post-processing, which has been my platform of choice. Having been a PC user since my first machine many years ago, I have never been particularly attracted to other platforms. I am very familiar with it, I pick and choose what I need and I don’t have to spend a ton of money to get the speed and the components I need. But for others who are not as tech-savvy, or perhaps have bad PC experience, the Mac might be the way to go. It is simpler to use, it is more intuitive, well-designed and will probably have less problems in the long run.
Do you have eyes on any particular new equipment which you would like to acquire?
A particular equipment? I have my eyes on every single equipment that comes in the market. I am very fascinated by prime lenses. You get a larger aperture which Is very much required for low light shooting. They are very handy and comfortable to shoot with. With large apertures, the resultant effect shooting with a prime lens is a shallower depth of field, further isolating your subject from the background, creating potential for some gorgeous portrait shots. Primes often produce sharper images than their Zoom lens counterparts; I say ‘often’ because Zooms have also gotten better in their image quality over time, so they are no slouch.
Your dream destination to shoot? Iceland, without a doubt!
Has portraiture always been a major focus of your photography? If not – why is it something you seem to focus upon so much today?
Yes, Portraiture has always been a major focus in my photography. I have been very fond of taking people’s photographs since I started photography. Portraits tell stories. There’s always a way in which a person can connect to the portraits. One can simply tell a person’s story by looking at his or her portrait. It’s about emotions and expressions. I like to tell stories through portraits. Portraits speak.
Editing images is considered as cheating with arguments like “Photography is not an art “frequently popping up. Your views?
It depends on the type of editing a person does. Personally, I am not against the use of Photoshop but I am against photo manipulation. Minor adjustments to exposure and color should be allowed to improve the impact of the image but adding or removing elements in the photograph is a problem for me.
Your work strikes me as being quite carefully planned. How much work goes into the preparation of your photography? How you make your subject comfortable and make them strike such natural pose? Where do the ideas come from and what steps do you find yourself moving through to bring the idea to execution?
Honestly, most of my shoots are unplanned. The reason being, I want to capture them in their natural form. I don’t want to show something which doesn’t exist at all. No matter how long it takes, I wait to get the perfect shot. Photography requires a lot of patience.
I try to focus on the subject. Most of the photographers waste their time looking for a good subject. A good photographer makes a normal subject look good. I put aside my camera before taking a photograph and interact with the subject. I try to know his story and that story helps me frame that subject in the right manner. I never ask them to strike a pose for me. I just click them while they are busy doing their things.
It is widely believed that there is very little scope of pursuing Photography as a career in India. Your views?
I agree with your point. India is very much behind not just in photography but other art forms as well like painting, music etc. A major population of India doesn’t understand art. The people here don’t know the value of an artist which leads to lack of opportunities in the field of art.
What gives you the ideas for your shoots and inspires you to create such great imagery?
The world is a beautiful place. It is the people who inspire me to create such photographs. I have been a great observant since I was a child. I see so many things in people’s daily life. There are so many great ideas around us. We just need to look around us.
From Himalayas to Vrindavan, you have been shooting the very depths of India. Which one was your most memorable assignment and why?
I was on an assignment for NGO Sulabh International in Vrindavan during Holi. Over a thousand widows played Holi at an ancient Vrindavan temple. Amid blowing of conch shells and showering of flower petals and dry colour powders, these widows participated in the Holi celebrations at the ancient Gopinath temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna.In many parts of India, widows are traditionally barred from playing Holi or participating in any other festival.The festival brought some color to the otherwise insipid lives of the Vrindavan widows, who live the life of a recluse, having been deserted by their families. It was the most beautiful Holi of my life. It was an honor to take pictures of those beautiful women. I’m emotionally very attached to this particular shoot.
Which is your favorite image? Could you explain the background story behind it?
I like all my pictures but there’s this one picture which I’m very fond of. It’s a portrait of a little girl that I took at Gopinath temple on the occasion of Holi, in Vrindavan, India. I still remember, I was standing at one corner watching everyone play Holi and suddenly this little girl all covered up in pink comes running to my side and bends down to grab colour in her hands, then looks up with those mischievous eyes, looking for someone to throw that colour at. All this happened within 10 seconds. I didn’t even have the time to check the setting of my camera. I just held my camera and took a couple of shots and she was gone. I was just hoping that I had got the shot that I wanted. Fortunately, I had got what I wanted.
The people here don’t know the value of an artist which leads to lack of opportunities in the field of art.
What are the key point’s one must keep in mind to capture a perfect portrait?
There are no rules in portrait photography. Most of my portraits aren’t formal situations. They’re found situations. I compose on the spot. But I’m always looking for a striking moment. Eye contact matters a lot. If someone looks straight into the camera, the viewer can relate to the subject. They are able to form a connection which is very important in Portraiture.
The first thing you need to do when you approach people is to relate to them and establish some rapport, whether you joke around or whatever, people respond and open up if they are comfortable around you. I try to go beyond that initial, awkward, self-conscious state. Give it a couple of minutes, and you’ll have a more natural, relaxed subject.
Where would be your dream destination shoot?
Iceland without a doubt.
Your journey of the Himalayas has gained you much critical appreciations from around the globe. Tell us something about it.
It was a life changing journey. The journey is about how I spent my 20th birthday in the Himalayas. I did things which I never would have thought of.
It taught me that it’s important to push yourself beyond your limits to accomplish your goals. I realized what nature is to us. I almost died in a snow storm but thanks to the beautiful couple, Chacha- Chachi, who saved my life. You can see my pictures and read the whole story here
If someone says “How can I be next Prakhar Tripathi?” What would you say?
I’m sure that no one would want to be next me. They would want to form their own identity and known for their own style of work. Steve Mccurry’s work always inspired me and I learnt a lot from his work but I never wanted to be the next Steve Mccurry. I have my own style of work and would never copy another artist.
Why don’t you show our viewers your 5 photographs which are closest to your heart?