Updated: Aug 19, 2021
The thing that sets photography apart from other art forms is its unique ability to capture a fleeting moment. And travel photography, good travel photography, is an experience; it makes you engage with the energy of that space and the people in it. What it is not, is a recording. A record, an archive, is static information, and these pictures, though they may technically hold a lot of information about their various subjects, transcend a little further into the world of art. What does that mean, though? Well, let’s find out.
(A quick note before we dive in, and this is might also be valuable for those of you who want to get into photography- professional or as a hobby. We have included the links to the gear these artists use, which should give you a solid frame of reference. That being said, the camera does not make the photographer any more than the robes make the monk, so don’t be too disheartened at the prices!)
Here's out carefully curated list of 5 awesome Indian travel photographers you need to know.
1. Rahul Singi
Instagram - @photowale.bapu
Rahul is a Bangalore based photographer who got into photography while on a trip with his friends in office. He started shooting with just his phone, and the photos he took were a hit, so he eventually graduated to a professional camera – though he does still use his phone to click pictures. He and his camera have been to many places since then, from Agra to Coorg, taking pictures that, as Rahul says in his bio, ‘create memories, one click at a time’.
Though his subjects are varied, his work has a single general vibe, which is difficult to describe, but I suppose that’s why a picture is worth a thousand words! The way he uses slightly exaggerated perspective and eye levels makes you feel as if you’re right there in the moment, be it experiencing the majesty of ancient forts and temples, or quiet everyday experiences like a cup of chai while you work. Capturing the feeling of a space is essential to travel photography, but Rahul goes a step further, creating stories, and all these stories have a running theme; the human experience.
His travel kit includes a few unusual items too; some toys to use as props in his shots.
Rahul’s Favourite Travel Story - “Once I went to shoot "Mayana Kollai Festival'' in Kaveripattinam Tamilnadu. I reached that village at 4am in the morning. That was my first visit to that village and I don't know Tamil. But still, when we were roaming the streets and searching for the temple where they celebrate the festival, there were a couple of families who told us the festival is going to start at 9am, they asked us to come inside their house, take some rest and have tea. In an unknown city, where we both were not able to understand each other's language, their gesture made me so happy.”
Rahul also has another photography instagram page, @camerawale.bapu, where he posts beautiful portraits of unique individuals.
2. Arijit Adhikary
Instagram - @arijitadhikary_photography
Arijit’s photos tend to have wide frames that capture the minute details of the environment he wants to represent. What this gives us in the end are photographs that are so dense and evocative that they have a movement to them, despite being completely still. They are, in a word, ‘wild’, which suits his subjects perfectly. He uses people in some pictures to really drive home the sheer scale of the scenery. He draws inspiration from wilderness photographers like Jayanta Roy, Marc Adamus, and Paul Zizka, and all their photographs have one thing in common; they make you feel small and humbled in a wide and beautiful world. Some parts of this world he intends to explore range from the Greater Himalayas here in India, to South America’s Patagonia, Iceland, the Canadian Rockies, and China.
Arijit’s Favourite Travel Story - “During my Solo Agra trip, it was the last day in there and I had a chance to spend some times in Sheros cafe with Acid attacked victims. After spending some quality of times, I wanted to know more about their stories, so, I cancelled my train ticket to Delhi for that day. This is the positive side of solo travelling.”
Arijit also has a YouTube Channel, Arijit Adhikary, where he posts his videos and incredible cinematic projects.
3. Aarohan Tiwari
Instagram - @aarohantiwari
Aarohan is a software engineer from Delhi by degree, but he left his 9-5 job in favor of becoming a full-time freelance photographer. His love for the medium began with a landscape photograph of Naini Lake in Nainital when he was ten, though it remained a hobby through his school years, only seriously picking up again when he got to college, and thus his freelance journey began.
He does some product and commercial photography as well, but today we’ll be talking only about his travel photography, of which an interesting thing to note is that a lot of them don’t use much contrast. Instead, his frames tend to be almost monochrome, creating scenes that seem straight out of a painting. Something about the way he edits his photos makes even scenes that should evoke some sense of movement seem entirely still, like true moments suspended in time. This aligns perfectly with his underlying philosophy of finding joy in the littlest of things and cherishing the sweet details of life. His favorite places he’s found so far have been Kashmir and Pondicherry, and his future travel plans include Spain and Portugal.
Aarohan’s Favourite Travel Story - "In 2018, when I was shooting the Republic Day rehearsal parade, I shot a picture of a navy captain. That picture went viral and it somehow also reached the captain. He contacted me through Instagram and wrote me a long message that he was very grateful that I clicked the picture. These are the perks of being a photographer. You get appreciated and loved by people and that’s what makes it worth all the painstaking efforts."
4. Mahendra Bakle
Instagram - @mahendrabakle
Mahendra has always been interested in photography, growing up reading different photography magazines and taking pictures of sunsets and sunrises as a child. However, it wasn’t until 2001, after he had established a solid foundation with his business in Solapur, that he got into travel photography, drawing inspiration from the places he travelled to for business.
Mahendra’s work uses all kind of elements to tell their story, from pattern to repetition to contrast, but the most striking is his use of light. Dynamic natural lighting is a huge part of his works, which creates images that are somehow very rooted in the space they come from. He’s covered many countries, especially in Southeast Asia, but his favorite of these is Myanmar, the photos of which particularly encapsulate his whole approach to photography, which is to capture the culture and personality of a space. He wants to explore the entirety of India first though, before properly shifting his view abroad, especially the stories and cultures of native Indian tribes, and this emphasis on the ‘human’ element of these places is a central theme that comes through in a lot of his photographs.
Camera - Sony L7R4
Lenses - Sony G Master Lenses
Mahendra's Favourite Travel Story- "I was travelling with a group in remote Vietnam by road and there was a land slide, everyone said we need to go back since it’s closed but we wanted to shoot in remote places so we flew our drone and checked out how big is the land slide, surprisingly we saw it was nearly opening up so we waited for an hour and could go ahead and shoot in spite of returning back."
5. Dheeraj Khandelwal
Instagram - @dhekhandelwal
Dheeraj, currently based out of Chennai, has been a fan of photography and cameras all his life with support from his family, but he only got into it professionally after graduating engineering college and buying himself a DSLR for his birthday.
Some photographers he draws inspiration from are Marc Adamus, Michael Shainblum, Cath Simard, and Nananeeth Unnikrishnan, and a common element emerges in their works; their use of wide angles and vivid colours. One of Dheeraj’s favorite pieces from his collection is one called ‘Looking Over Us’, an incredible image of the Milky Way arching over the head of a huge statue of Buddha, and this piece perfectly captures the vibe Dheeraj’s travel photos tend to have; serene and almost ethereal. He has a keen eye for composition, but this doesn’t just apply to the photos themselves; when viewing Dheeraj’s instagram, you mustn't miss out on the careful way he’s arranged his photos. Each row of three has a common theme, palette, or subject, creating sceneries even outside the individual images. Of the places he’s been to, his favorites so far have been Germany, Iceland and Kashmir, and he has the Emperor Penguins and ice landscapes of Antartica on his bucket list.
Camera - Canon 5d Mark 4
Dheeraj’s Favourite Travel Story- "One story that sticks with me is when I was in a cruise ship in waters of Finland in the middle of the sea, I saw three things together, on one side there was storm, one side there was a beautiful sunset happening, on one side there was a rainbow, I literally was thinking what to click by rotating my head in all the directions. I was living the moment between my head turns."
Photography isn’t as simple as just pointing a camera and clicking a button, despite how easy these guys make it look. We all start somewhere though, so let this be the sign you were looking for to pick up photography. Who knows; maybe we’ll be featuring you next time?
Written by Sambhavi Sinha, Content Writer at Skyshot Arts and Entertainment (who was over the moon about the fact that she got to interview these amazing artists).