An Inspirational Journey of IT Professional &Travel Photographer – Mithun Prabhu
Can you briefly tell us about your journey?
I am a hardcore Mumbaikar born, raised and educated in Bombay. In fact, I am the first alumni of Symbiosis, Pune. I then relocated to Bangalore, since then Bangalore has been my home. Having a technical mindset: ‘my heart drives me through my lens’. In fact, that’s my hashtag ‘#Throughmylens’. While I believe that life can be a stretch but it depends on the attitude, the way you withhold. Now my world is more of a canvas where I want to spend my visualization using my lens. I have contributed to multiple photography exhibitions in the past proceeds of which I have gone for a lot of noble and charitable causes. I am part of various photography institutions and clubs to name a few Photography Society of America (PSA), Thank God It’s Saturday (TGIS) from Bangalore and Youth Photography Society of Bangalore (YPS). I ensure that I participate in all kinds of workshops, training, or learning so that one it helps me learn, second it helps me to impart help for anybody who needs it.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in photography?
Well, the year of 2019 was my height of success in the photography field actually. Honeycomb Creative Support my print partners, like my own family, decided to feature me in their blog in March 2019. It was a great honour for me. I won the first distinction in photography which was called as Artist Federation of Indian Photography AFIP, the title which was conferred upon me in the month of August. In July 2019, I decided to do my first solo photography exhibition in Bangalore including one day at my apartment complex. It was raging hit because we had around 1000 plus footfalls in the two weeks of the exhibition that I did. That was the first time that I displayed my art to people as a travel photographer. It was an absolutely prestigious honor for me to be part of my first solo exhibition. Then I moved my solo exhibition to Pune in the month of November, very recently and I had 60 plus frames displayed there. It was in two different galleries and we had a huge success in that exhibition as well. What was interesting is that for my Pune exhibition we introduced Photobook for the first time. For which I selected pictures from my collection and desktop calendar for the year 2020 which was raging hit. Meanwhile, I was also participating in a lot of national and international competitions which are also called salons aggregated by PSA, FIP, FIAP, and GPU. These are all international bodies and I started winning awards and acceptances in each of these various categories like travel, color, monochrome, nature and there were various other thematic categories as well. As I entered the year 2019, I had nearly 500 plus acceptances in these various salons and 10 awards which included gold, a couple of bronze and honorable mentions. This all seemed to be a lot of motivation for me. It was all due to the active involvement in the Youth Photography Society YPS team. And actually I am very thankful to them because of which I was able to achieve these various feeds getting these acceptances and awards. I was featured in nearly one page in the Pune Mirror in the month of November just before my exhibition by a very famous journalist named Mr. Ashwin Khan. And then I was subsequently featured in Yourstory.com which is an online media where artists across our country are featured. It is an honor for me and the article was written by Mr. Madhath Mohan. This is all in addition to the youtube videos and various other digital marketing we tried for my exhibition because of my well-wishers and various people who visited my exhibition. It was absolutely an honor that's how the year 2019 went.
Since the photography techniques and equipment change quickly, how do you always keep up with the times?
Well in the last two decades, what we have seen is digital photography has been at the forefront. And everybody today is using the digital camera whether it is on the phone with a camera, or SLR or Point and shoot camera. It is just the increase in technology belief that is overpowering the human aspect of it. What I see is children with less than 10 years of age are clicking excellent pictures. I think that is all possible because of the technology, digital era and their flexibility and agility with respect to doing anything with photography and that's my opinion that technology will only advance. But if you ask me honestly, I will not make any rash decisions to invest in camera equipment or accessories just because it is the latest in the market. I will take some time to discuss this with my fellow photographers. There are a lot of times in our groups we discuss the pros and cons, whether we should buy or should we not because having everything at your home in terms of spending capital may not be wise unless you are actively using it on a daily basis that’s what I think about this.
How do you make emotions flow inside the frames, how difficult is that and how do you achieve it?
As a famous photographer, Ansel Adams once said that ‘A good photograph is knowing where to stand’ and I think that is a very critical and powerful statement for any photographer. Now we all know that we can always purchase equipment, camera equipment, accessories, fill up your memory cards and hard disks with GBs of data. But if as a photographer if you are not willing to or not able to strike a chord with your audience, if you are not able to tell them the story, if you are not able to tell them in what situations you actually had to go through to take a photograph I think that is not going to do any justice to the audience who is probably looking at you. In this generation all people want to do is swipe left or swipe right. A photograph that has no story will be lost chances and opportunities to strike emotion calls with your viewers or audience. People are so busy with their daily routines and the world. They will hardly have a few seconds to actually go through any of your photographs or read through and that's actually been my experience as well. You need to have excellent vision to see what is happening into a scene I think that is very critical as a photographer because there are only a few seconds that any audience gets to view your photographs and to understand what is happening and draw their attention to the seen that we are portraying in front of them and that is very important for me as a travel photographer as well. But at the same time, I personally believe that a story element is very critical because that gives whoever is viewing the photograph a lot of information and appreciation with respect to what is happening.
How did you manage to come up with different themes for 365 days in 2017, which had gained attention at a wider reach on Facebook?
Well at the end of 2016, when I learned from Mr. Anand Sharan like I said I bought my first DSLR which is Nikon 17 200. I did my first group travel to Rajasthan, specific travel-based photography and when it was the end of 2016 and start of 2017 I decided that let me try a different thing for the rest of the year which was putting theme-based photography on my social media posts so what I decided was I picked up a theme on a daily basis and I used to pick up photographs from my personal collections surrounding the theme I used to have a quote which used to go with the theme or the photograph that I am displaying on that day. It was a huge challenge, in fact, you know because selecting a theme, thinking about what photographs will match with that theme and the quote was a very daunting task. Sometimes due to my travel the personal front or the professional front, it used to be even difficult to put a post on that day but now I used to ensure that when to get the access back. I put the photograph back at the theme back on track. It connected with a lot of audiences, a lot of my well-wishers who found it as a very interesting aspect. Some of them used to wait for the post to come if I didn't put it on a particular day they used to ask me why, so I think it is connected with a lot of audiences. And it was a big success according to me it gave me a lot of visibility as a photographer as well. By the end of 2017, by the time I finished off 365 days I got a lot of great appreciation and they wanted me to continue for further years so I took a break of 2 years and started it again in 2020 January 1st. I again started off a cut down version of the same where I am putting one photo per day kind of theme. Let's see how it goes as of now it is taking up great appreciation I think I will continue for the rest of the year.
What inspired you to be in collaboration with TGIS and YPS?
Well collaborating with fellow photographers like-minded people was the reason why I chose TGIS (Thank God It's Saturday) prestigious club of Bangalore as well as the Youth photography society of Bangalore YPS like I already mentioned. When I learned from my mentor Mr. Anand Sharan in 2016 his conventional approach gave me a lot of tips for photography. They are naturally, you know I have to go onto the field, practice various genres of photography, try and understand the lighting and the biggest other technical aspects of photography. So collaborating with these clubs, we traveled together, we shared together, we competed in various national and international salons and altogether it was a healthy competition. It helped us to actually get into a lot of knowledge sharing sections that happen. In fact, I would also like to mention that H. Satish, who is the president of YPS, has also been of great help. There has been a lot of learning process because of him. Like I have mentioned because of YPS I have won those 10 awards and 500 plus acceptances by the end of 2019. So I am very thankful to YPS as an organization.
From your point of view what makes a good picture?
‘You really have to care about whatever you are shooting’ it sounds like an understatement but when I took my first photographs or multiple photographies or when I started the photography journey I used to click anything on this earth starting from flowers, regular objects at home, birds and a lot of things. Whenever I used to find an opportunity, I would just click click and click. And then I realize that, it is a very cool thing, this piece of equipment in my hand. And over a period of time, I realize that it’s not how you do photography. We need to have a good sense of composition, framing, and what am I trying to showcase because that is a strong belief that unless the audience has looked into your photograph for a few seconds that you get, I don't think it will help bring any interest element for them to look at. My favorite photographs are always the ones that evoke feelings or mentally transport you back into time. I personally believe that the camera, body, the gear, and the accessories are not very important because you can always have a pace level camera as long as you have the framing and composition correct you are able to depict scene, touch human emotion and I think that is something that will always connect with the audience or the viewer.
What makes travel photography so special to you?
My personal belief is that when you travel you experience, you learn, you share in short you are happy. Travel has helped me experience other cultures across the length and breadth of this country as well as abroad. That is when you see the beauty, experience the local cuisine, living conditions, you understand how things happen in different regions where ever you shoot. As a travel photographer, the most critical component of photography. So what I normally do is I undertake the photography assignments once a year for the last four years I have been going across different parts of India. Unless you go into the deeps or meet with the local people, enjoy the environment around, document it basically for those who cannot for whatever reason visit that place is I think is the most critical aspect of travel photography and that’s what I do and that’s what makes me happy.
What are you currently working on and do you have any photographic plans for the future?
My future plan is to actually document the beauty of nature, the mother Earth’s creation across the world, narrate this into a documentary and for the future generations to get inspired and acknowledge. I also wish to go on a long photo experience not only in India, across the world where I can document various cultures, religions, historical significance, geographical architectures whatever I can. In fact, one of my bucket list that I have is to showcase India to every Indians the way it has never been done before, documenting everything right from historical monuments to festivals to the cultural diversity that this country has to offer, the street various other aspects on a daily life that we all live in India that most of us don't even know for me that’s very critical. I think as my kids are growing they are showing some interest in photography so I am waiting for the time when they will become older then they can travel with me on these assignments. It will be fun to actually go together, shoot and have a nice time. That is something that I am definitely looking forward to.
What tips or advice do you have for the other aspiring photographers?
Just that you as a photographer have to always exercise caution according to me, never to cross the line. Extremely ethical, respect the privacy of the subjects even if it's a human being or nature. And extremely critical that you know we will always find that the human race is always the winner when you have the right competitive spirits irrespective of how many photographers are shooting at the same time, explore the unexplored, don’t do the status go that everybody does try and find creative angle document it very well have a storyline. More Importantly, print your work do exhibitions and showcase it to the world because you cant have GBs of data, put things in social media and expect everybody as an audience because there are lot of people view that who don't get opportunity to view so I think doing an exhibition is definitely something that I would encourage everybody once you have come to a stage where you feel you have a lot of areas that you can showcase. I normally believe that if two of the photographers are standing at the same point I don’t think they will they will ever come with the same frame or same composition ever so I think bringing in some creativity into your photography is definitely the end thing. To sum it up I would definitely say that ‘Be human, keep it simple because simple is what people like. Have a very powerful, impactful photograph that gives you more honors, more acknowledgments rather than winning awards or those kinds of stuff. That is my advice to budding photographers.