Storytelling through lenses is Ashish Chalapuram’s expertise
5th January 1972
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for
A Panel Expert from DCP Expeditions, Ashish Chalapuram is a fine lensman in the genres of Travel, Fashion, Street, Macro and Wildlife Photography. Hailing from God’s own country Kerala, he is fascinated by the best in class photographers across the world. He has rightly stated that a photographer must be an observer first and be open minded as it is a continuous learning process. Ashish at present teaches the basics of photography in workshops held by DCP Expeditions. Ashish is also a proud recognized member of the prestigious Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. We are joyous to have a word with him and elated to know about his journey in the world of photography.
We are really keen to know; how did your journey begin?
When I was a child, while watching TV I used to get very fascinated about how a camera was handled. I got hands on experience with a camera, which was a film camera when I was around 18 or 20 years old. During those days, the photographic process was very difficult. One had to be very careful while taking pictures, as film was expensive and also one got to see the results only after the film was developed. Then the digital camera came, and I first bought it 9-10 years back, and since then I passionately started my pursuit of Photography. There was a Photo Walk organized by 500 pixels around 5-6 years back, but the organizers didn’t turn up, so we formed our own group- ‘Mumbai in Pixels’. I met my mentor Shannon Heng on one of the ‘Mumbai in Pixels’ photowalks and we started going out on weekends to shoot. I have been into the different genres of Photography like travel. fashion, street, macro & wildlife.
What were the hardships / hurdles you have encountered during your journey? How did you overcome them?
When I started, there was no one to guide, whatever I could find to learn was through some books. I never got into any course; it was all self-learning. Earlier as I mentioned about Mumbai Photo Walk, I met Shannon Heng, a brilliant photographer from Singapore who guided me a lot during the initial stages. He shared a lot of knowledge and this is how I overcame all the hardships in the beginning. Financially I had to be judicious on spending money to buy equipment. I have come across a lot of people who come to me saying I have bought so and so camera or lens but what I feel is it is the person behind the camera, his/her artistic approach and not the equipment which will capture a good image. Nowadays most of the people overall use up to 25% of an equipment’s features whereas I stick to one for years until I come across its limitations and then only, I switch to another.
Know me Beyond Photography
"Live and let live"
I draw inspirations from
Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson
Food I Love
Non-Vegetarian, Sea Food
Food I Don't Like
I don’t like Paneer
Had I not been a Photographer then
maybe a Sportsman
Like Vacations at
Leh & Ladakh
Favorite Pass time
I read books and observe the works of great photographers
Favorite Movies / Series
Favorite Actor / Actress:
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep
Who has been your influencers in this journey & how?
Shannon Heng has been my primary motivator when I began this journey. Dr. Caesar, Amit Rane, Soumabrata Moullick are my favorites whose work I follow a lot. They all are really very good at what they do.
What qualities must one look for in a 'Guru' for training in Photography?
Knowledge, patience and the ability to deliver. One must be able to express their knowledge and convey it in the right way. Obviously, Guru must have patience as every student’s grasping ability is different.
Success is incomplete without its share of setbacks. What advice would you give to others about handling them?
If you don’t fail, you don’t know what success is, you won’t respect success. Failure is a part of the learning process. During the initial phases the learning curve is high and you will make more mistakes but as you go out and shoot more on the field you progressively get better. It’s always a learning process and as someone said “You are only as good as your last photograph”
Do you think Photography and its learnings can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career?
Photography teaches you to observe which is very much lacking in a lot of people today. Photography teaches a lot of patience especially in Wildlife Photography, where it takes hours to capture the habitat and it also applies for Street Photography where one must very closely anticipate the actions of the individuals you are shooting. So, there is a lot of learning in Photography in apart from career aspects.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
I don’t think age has got much to do with passion. But if you have got a right mind set and attitude towards your passion then you don’t need more than that. Photography is a combination of artistic and scientific approach so if you keep your mind open, you will easily learn.
How has technology transformed the world of Photography?
Yes, technology is changing the way people get trained in photography because 5-6 years back, there was hardly any amount of online content put up and today one can simply learn a lot just by watching YouTube videos. So, internet has drastically changed the way photography is learnt these days. But watching videos is still a limited source because what makes classroom session more preferable is its interactiveness Internet media is just one way source whereas in a classroom session, there is an interaction with the tutor.
If you were to bring one big change in the way people get trained in Photography what would that be?
Earlier it was only limited till classroom training and today there are webinars and online live video conferences happening for training but whatever medium through you conduct the training sessions, the field and the classroom sessions should equally be considered
Your piece of advice to parents who are skeptical about their children taking up a career in any co-curricular activities…
Those days are gone when Medical and Engineering were the only options just for job security but today people are looking for more than that. So, I feel parents should always encourage their children’s talent.
What is your success mantra?
You need to be focused in whatever you do. If you’re not focused, then you will not be successful at what you are doing.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I Am The 1”?
Last year my image was put up on the cover of Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain’s website and I wasn’t expecting this to happen as it’s not easy to get featured on the cover of the world’s oldest Photography society, so this was my “I Am The 1” moment.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down the memory lane…
I have nothing to regret but I only wish if I could have started photography early.
How can one identify & encourage talent in the family?
Parents need to keep an eye open. Many of them just hand their children a mobile phone to just keep them busy and silent. This is killing them as it is not letting them explore their creativity. A child should be free to find his/her interest in Music, Art, Dance and Sports. Identifying children’s creativity and interest is every parent’s responsibility.
Any other thoughts you want to share…
Go out in the field and shoot, that is the only way you will improve your Photography and there is no shortcut to it.