Once while shooting in Kashmir photographer Achal Kumar came across a very interesting landscape that intrigued him. “I kept going to that location every day and sat there for three to four hours. Finally, one day I got the right subject, the right mist and the right light conditions to capture that landscape.” That picture is titled ‘The Mist’ and got a National award.
Achal’s professional journey started very young as his father was a photographer. Talking about his father, Achal says, “He is more into street photography and follows the school of Henri Cartier-Bresson where you capture the moment that is the essence of the image. His equipment for me was more of a box camera — a fun camera.”
He was around 10 when he started assisting his father in the dark room. “In my teens I was developing my own films and making my own prints,” he says. Fond of nature, a lot of his work reflects the wonders of flora and fauna. “I am an outdoor person and I do a lot of trekking. If I see something that makes me feel like it should be shared with the world and how beautiful nature is, I try to capture it.”
It is not merely being in beautiful surroundings that leads to wonderful landscape photography. “It is experience that helps one correlate a live scene and the final print. So you make adjustments and take a picture accordingly.” Apart from nature, Achal also does a lot of street photography. “In street photography, a story is very important or a message could be involved. Capturing a particular moment matters a lot. In that way, it is very different from nature photography.”
A lot of his work is in monochrome. “It is two colours — black and while and an infinite palette in between. These tones are able to express a lot without the distraction caused by colours. Sometimes feelings get lost in colours but in black and white it is very difficult to escape them. It becomes obvious and the message becomes very clear.” For those starting a career in photography, he says, “There is no substitute for hard work. You have to shoot, shoot and shoot. I have Sachin Tendulkar’s bat but I can’t be a cricketer, so it is not the equipment but your passion that will lead you.”