27 May 2012
Anoop Negi, photographer par excellence, entrepreneur with interests in wine and cheese making and a friend-philosopher-guide to many. Anoop's viewfinder always tells a compelling story, vivid colors celebrating life is his trademark style. Behind the viewfinder is a gentle and wonderful human being, his perspective (as one of his friend said), seems to come from a deeply spiritual place.
Anoop graciously agreed to share a bit more than what he normally does in this interview. Some insights that I feel every budding photographer would enjoy.
Q: How did you get started with photography and what motivated you to shoot when you started?
A: I guess it must have been the visual impact of the Life magazine that one used to see in the school library. Those larger than life images of people and events were the first kindling of the fire to capture “moments” and events. The translation into actual taking of photographs was many years later when one could afford to buy a camera. No iconic images, no haloed photographers, no such motivation existed for me.
Q: What gear do you use? How important in your opinion is gear for a photographer?
A: Currently two digital cameras with a variety of lenses is what I use. A Nikon D 300 and an older Nikon D 70. I prefer a Nikon 18-70 lens and a 50 mm lens for most work. Occasionally I use 12-24 mm wide angle Tokina lens.
Gear is important maybe in the initial stages of the learning curve. If one does not get good results and the pocket permits, the urge to buy something expensive to compensate is a fairly common phenomenon. For a serious photographer, suitable gear is like a mixed curse. You would love to have everything. Sometimes it is important to have a state of the art gear depending on a particular requirement of the picture taking but at most times even an ordinary camera with an ordinary lens will get you good results.
The ultimate difference between a good and a bad photographer is not governed by gear but more by how the brain and the creative process is at work at the time the photograph is made. The excessive chatter about lenses and cameras is more a function of consumer exploitation then actual requirement. Camera companies will dish out newer stuff as they are led by a profit incentive. The poor photographer with a lack of creative juice falls prey and is prone to extensive conversation about gear and the urge to buy to compensate for their own inefficiencies.
Q: What kind of subjects or genre of photography you like doing most and why?
A: For me the ultimate crucible of photographic achievement is the outdoors. No not the landscape genre. It is the outdoor events like fairs, festivals and the life and times of the ordinary people that I love to capture. Nothing is in control here, not the light, not the people. It is the most challenging of photographic situations to be in. For me that is it.
Indoor photography where things can be controlled is not challenging enough. So pretty pictures, sunsets, pets, flowers, studio glamor is not my forte. One does take aesthetically beautiful photos sometimes but most times it is the capture of the “moment” or the telling of a story.
Q: Who are the photographers (past or present), whose work you admire? Who or what inspires your work today?
A: I have studiously stayed away from being inspired by photographers old and young. It is a part function of not having the time to really study what is on offer and part function of doing what one wants to do the way one wants to. The setting of a visual milieu is what inspires me to shoot.
Q. When you are out photographing, what is more important to you – the actual process of shooting or the resulting images? And why?
A: Now that is a difficult question with no definite answer. Most times going out to photograph is partly a function of being curious, being a traveller and a documenter and availability of time and money.
One shoots to take fairly good representative frames of actual reality. So the resulting images are what one is doing it all for.
The process is equally important as that would decide what is available in terms of a setting and how to go about taking a good photograph.
One could say that if the process of shooting is well thought out then the results ought to be fairly good or to put it another way, if you want good images then the actual process of shooting is to be thought out and implemented to the best of the circumstances available
Q. Which are your favorite places to shoot? Would you like to share any memorable moments as a photographer?
A: Favourite places to shoot would be places where the lighting is sublime. Say places like Kerala and Ladakh in India. Memorable moments as a photographer would be the number of times one outwits a likely fall while the eyes are glued to the viewfinder and one is moving around. Always a dangerous preoccupation with a hazardous proposition of an imminent fall. Diving out of the path of oncoming and charging bulls in the Kerala Bull races with the camera intact would be a memorable event for me.
Q: What would you remember as most satisfying achievement as a photographer?
A: Nothing is more satisfying then sitting and leafing through your photographs and wondering how it all happened. What I am saying is that I have not really thought of a “most satisfying” achievement till date. Maybe it is still in the making.
Q. Having reached thus far, what is that you plan and look forward to do in near future?
A: Keep on shooting till one drops. Travel some destinations, if affordable.
Q. What is your advice to budding photographers out there?
A: Just get out there and shoot. Observe and shoot. Think and shoot.
Anoop Negi work can be found on Facebook ' Anoop Negi Photography' and on his flickr stream.