By Sujata Devadas, October 01, 2015
“I am trying out all genres, with a free spirit. Nature, wildlife and seascapes cut me off from everything else. It is my comfort zone. I like landscapes, I like wildlife, I like fashion. Each one has a different challenge to it.”
His passion for photography took off in 2014, encouraged by a friend and model, Moumita and his cousin, Sarosh Lodhi, a wildlife photographer for the last 14 years. India has a rich wildlife heritage, which Munzir Ahmed Khan, protective coating engineer by profession, is well aware of. “I visit national parks to capture wildlife. India has 103 national parks. I have visited Pench and Tadobe national parks several times. Further off, I went on a Kashmir/Ladakh expedition. I have also been to Darjeeling in the north and Kerala in the south - all of this over the last one and a half years. A lot of my pictures can be found at 500px/khanmunzir. I am planning my next photo tour.
“Photography is soothing, intriguing and destressing for me. Many things escape you with casual observation by the normal eye. Photographs are often a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. My own pictures often drive me to excel and do better.”
“Take landscape photos, for instance. My passion drives me to scout the location, and choose where to set my photographic equipment up carefully, in order to capture the best possible shot keeping in mind lighting, perspective, ambience, and so on.”
Let’s be Honest
“Sometimes though, honesty demands that you tell people, this situation never existed. People can go to extraordinary lengths looking for places that was a Photoshop creation. If 2 photographers stood side by side and clicked the same bird, their photographs can look radically different with digital manipulation, where elements from the captured shot can be completely removed or modified given your preference for fantasy.” says Munzir, winking. “In 500px, you will find a shot of Qudra Lake, Dubai. It is a composite. The sky was very bland. A new sky has been added accomplished in my fantasy.”
The fashion fabrication
Shooting fashion is a whole different ball game. I got an introduction to it as my friend Moumita is a model herself and works with theater. We did a number of projects together. Capturing innate objects is much easier. But to guide another individual, to avail of your creativity from others, ask them to pose for you, requires excellent communication. Fashion photography is about integrating a whole team to fulfill a client’s request: whether it is glamor they want to project or an expression of sensuality or perhaps sexuality or simply to underline beauty or emotion from an ordinary person. This has to be conceptualized at the very beginning to initiate and fabricated by merging the creativity of the costume designer, the lights man and the model, etc. with the perception and imagination of the photographer.
Back to honesty
All those that men crave for after beer are photoshopped women. If you are a photographer, you will not share that craving because each image is retouched. That picture only existed in the photographer’s imagination. With just the model in front of you, clicked with a white background, if the desired end result is to have the model astride on a bike, you have to have her seated on a stool first with the desired pose and her foot on a pedestal that is absent. The same thing applies if the final image composition is that of the model seated on scraggy rocks on the beach with waves smashing against the rocks all around her.
A vivid imagination is a basic requirement. The professional retoucher polishes or enhances your composite creation further. The model’s stomach is pulled inside, their cellulite removed, their legs made thinner, the cleavage deepened, the nose is made sharper, and the eyes widened.
The human evolution
The Kashmir/Ladakh expedition was sponsored by Huawei company and supported by Nikon who supplied some cameras, lenses, second bodies and gears. 11 photographers, all amateurs and hobbyists (except for Subodh Shetty, a professional photographer and the founder of Photowalk Dubai) made this trip.
"Ladakh villagers, simple, peaceful, friendly and courteous have been left far behind in their access to technological advancements. They are in a time wrap going back centuries. They have no materialistic inclinations. They are lost in a different world." discovers Munzir.
"Density of mobile phones is low as networks are confined to cities like Leh or Srinagar. The Army maintains roads in Ladakh and funds schools. The adult Ladakhis may not be literate, but their children go to school. Private schools exist too where villagers give contributions for its operation." Munzir continues.
"When the weather becomes perilous, Indian Air Force flies Ladakhi villagers out to safer regions on a nominal charge. Whole villages are shifted that way. It is the Indian Army that maintains the roads along the border and operates free schools to educate village children. Travellers can avail of their guest houses too if they have rooms available. Or they will provide you with a tent."
"Road transportation in Ladakh is perilous. When the sun comes up, our driver hurries us along. 'We must cross the Pass at the earliest,' he says. 'As the sun melts the ice, it can set landslides in motion. It can take the road away.' Risky journey." for Munzir and other travelers.
Landslides are very common. All rescues after landslides are done by the Indian Army. They have bulldozers, craters and Dippers every 25 kms. We got stuck 3 times.
"After my trip to Ladakh, my respect for the Indian army - the dedication of the frontline soldiers, the fortitude with which they face extreme situations, always treating the Ladakhi villagers with compassion and respect - have gone up many folds. I salute the army for bearing such extremities and serving the motherland by protecting its borders." remarks Munzir.
Leave us in peace
Ladakhi villagers ask us simple questions. The village of Turtuk borders India and Pakistan. In 1971, Turtuk became a part of India. During the Kargil war, the people of Turtuk told us, there was very heavy shelling and they lost many houses. “What was our fault? We were earlier with them; now we are here. But we get killed.” For no fault of theirs. But they have the grim determination not to leave their home.
All this, and more, from 'just a passion'.