Tag Archives: Female Photographer

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Inspiration | Travel

16 December 2017

Cancer survivor takes on an unprecedented pilgrimage to Mount Everest

The Unprecedented Pilgrimage to Mt Everest

 

Why do humans climb mountains, I have often questioned myself and have always struggled to find a reason for why one would romanticize mountains, why climb again and again and why have one on one with ‘Death Gods’?

 

It’s because the mountains never question or beg for answers.

You don’t need to prove yourself nor do you need any validation.

They are always there, standing mighty! Breathing, protecting and killing, accepting and what not!

And in ways, most of us can’t comprehend…

 

‘Listening’

 

Some would say passion takes you there, some say it’s their dream, some take it as an adventure sport.

 

Any reason is a reason valid enough for you to want to climb the tallest mountain in the world. I get asked the same question when I tell people about my journey. I still think I don’t have an answer to that. Everything just happened so fast that I still haven’t figured it out.

 

 

So let’s start from the very beginning!

A normal doctor, working in a private hospital in Delhi.

What made her climb a mountain?

 

It all started with my love for mountains when I got work in Shimla. Having survived blood cancer and chemotherapy for one year, I was completely lagging behind in my career. I had it all planned to go and work in the US and then cancer struck.

It was the worst phase of my life, bedridden for months, total loss of control and of course the brunt of treatment.

I survived it because my family was there. It’s was our fight.

And today I say it proudly, I survived what would have killed others.

 

 

I was an avid biker. Classic 350cc, the love of my life, independent brat, a rebellious kid I was all through, but soon after cancer treatment I met with a near-death accident due to my bones being weak. I almost fractured all the major bones of my body and today I carry three titanium rods from that event.

After two back to back life-changing events, what does one do to get back on track?

 

I was clueless, no plan worked out.

Shimla was the first place where I fell for the hills. Just pastime trekking helped me heal myself mentally.

Then came Leh and the opportunity to climb Mt Everest. I said ‘no’ at first go because I knew I was not physically fit to climb mountains.

Discussing over and over with colleagues they convinced me to go for the expedition to Mt Stok Kangri which is considered as the easiest peak to scale.

I was not trained in mountaineering at all and went stupidly for this. During the course, I fell sick and had to come back. But later, I was determined to climb and experience how it feels to be on the top of a mountain and to this day it’s one feeling I have not forgotten even after climbing Everest.

People usually say that how can you describe a feeling or a moment to anyone who is not there. I say you cannot describe it by words but by sharing the passion.

After this, the love affair with mountains became more strong. It’s like an addiction now.

I trained at HIM for the basics and did the advance from AMI.

After that, we went for Mt Mamostong Kangri in the Ladakh region, 6153 m. That peak was such a beauty that it just lets you go into a trance while climbing.

Next was Mt Saser Kangri 7672m and Mt Nun 7135m, both extremely challenging peaks. During these expeditions, I realised that I am a very slow CLIMBER and slow acclimatizer. I got to know how my body behaved with height and low temperatures. But is this enough for Everest I asked myself?

Being a doctor I was also responsible for the team, and being a climber I have to be responsible for myself too.

 

Until January 2017, I was not convinced with my physical fitness at all. Over a period of two months, I pushed my body, running 10 to 12 km in Leh in the winter mornings. Let me tell you not easy at all, but that was the only thing that kept me fit.  Of course a healthy high protein diet too.

Finally, the day came whence we flew to Kathmandu and that city was full of climbers from all parts of the world. And then the flight to Lukla, the most exciting flight ever. The plane actually nosedives. And then you get to see the first view of the mighty Goddess, what a feeling to see her!

 

From Lukla, it’s a 9-day trek to the base camp situated at a height of 17700 ft. 42 km of upslope and a little bit of down slope, adventurous suspension bridges, a crowd of fellow climbers, the hustle and bustle, the yaks and sherpas doing load ferrying is still fresh in my mind. Gradually you gain height and acclimatise which is getting very important. Plus you carry your own load of 20 kg all through the trek. By the time we reached Tengbouche my legs had already given up and I was seriously contemplating on quitting, but my team motivated me so much that today I am thankful to them for I wouldn’t have done the summit without them.

On reaching base camp one would find so many colourful canopies of tents that it doesn’t feel like that you are on an expedition. You interact with so many teams and climbers that they become your family for the next two months. It was an honour to meet the famous Swiss climber Ueli Stack who attained his peaceful end in the work he loved to do.

Then over next two weeks, we went for height gaining exercises to Kala Patthar and Pumori base camp, taking three steps at that height was a pain indeed.  I used to get breathless at night while sleeping and get up at 3 am to go out of the tent. One night I just saw a trail of lights in Khumbu icefall and it was just so mesmerizing that I forgot I am actually out in cold.

So first time when you cross the notorious Khumbu icefall it’s like an endless maze of walls of ice, I literally took 12 hours to cross that monster but I knew I have to cross it again and again. So there is a team called ‘Icefall Doctors’ who fix the rope and ladders across Khumbu and they are the reason one crosses Khumbu safely.

 

Base Camp, Mt. Everest

Crossing snake bend on Khumbu icefall

Climbing icefall to camp 1

Climbing Lhotse face

Camp 2, Mt. Everest

Camp 2 to Camp 3, Mt. Everest

Camp 3, Mt. Everest

Climbing Lhotse face en route Camp 3 to Camp 4, Mt. Everest

From Camp 3 to Camp 4, Mt. Everest

Camp 4, Mt. Everest

Enroute Summit, Mount Everest

So you do two to three cycles of height gain till camp 4 to adjust your body to the height and rarefied atmosphere. The cycle where I spent a night at Camp 2 at 21000 ft, I realised how hard it’s going to be. Camp 2 is like an advance base camp and in a flat space that it’s called a football ground or the silent valley.  After that, you ascend to camp 3 to 24000 ft facing a 75-degree climb and strong winds of almost 60 to 100 mph. The night at Camp 3 was sleepless. The swishing sound of oxygen cylinders the wind and the height, restlessness is all you feel. It’s painful to be at that height where you can’t even pee without being killed.

 

Camp 4 at 26000 ft is known as the death zone, it was creepy.  We faced the mighty Lhotse incline, I was facing health problems already and was sitting down at every three step using more of my oxygen. Then suddenly out of nowhere, an oxygen cylinder comes rolling down and hits one of our Sherpas in the leg and we had to bring him down with a broken leg. Such mistakes which cost you. Once you reach camp 4 and realize why it’s called death zone, you can actually feel death in the air. Bodies all black and blue with climbing gear are lying behind rocks, no one cares like it’s a common sight to see. No humanity no emotion and no respect for them. Climbers crossing over them and then leaving behind the ones dying is something haunts you for long and scares you to the core.

After coming back to base camp there was a moment I thought for what if something happens to me, will I also be a reference point for others in future just lying out there.  But then I thought I will die doing something I liked and wanted to. So why regret?

After this we did two more cycles and before final summit window had a total rest and recoup. Prayers were done to evoke the ‘Sagarmatha Goddess’ for her blessings before the climb. It was all getting surreal now.

But the weather Gods were merciless and it was the worst climbing season ever. No ropes were fixed till summit and all were getting anxious over a failed season this time. Our team left in wee hours of May 17 morning halting at Camp 2 directly. Next day we left for camp 3 and the weather got bad, 100 mph blizzard and we were stuck, but after the blizzard died out we moved on to the next camp. Ideally, camp 4 is a stopover for 6 hrs and then you leave for the summit, but again the blizzard started and we were stuck there for two days without food and depleting oxygen. Few cylinders were stolen and then half of our team had to go down and it was decided only the strongest will climb. I was a weak member but then I went against team leaders’ decision to go for it for I knew I came so far and either I die here or go back after summoning. I was foolish I think now, such impulsive decisions can cost your team members lives too, that is what I learnt. So on the night of 20th May, a team of 8 left and it was one of the hardest things I have done till now. I felt jumping off planes is easier.

 

Then after crossing the famous Hilary step, the dangerous rocky patch where an inch here or there and you freefall to darkness. I started hallucinating I thought a fellow climber wants to cross over and I let off my safety anchor and suddenly my sherpa holds my backpack and shakes me asking what the hell am I doing? I was like oh my gosh! that was so real and a slight wind would have grown me into Nepal or Tibet dead. At t50 m from the summit, I could see what I was training for all this while. It’s just there now in front of you and it took me 50 minutes to reach on top and I was blank when I got on top. There was no thought, no chattering in my brain. Complete emptiness. Then I felt the wind saying you did it and am not making it up, it really did. Then I dropped to my knees and knelt before the Goddess,  thanking her for considering me worthy of this view. Tears roll down my cheeks and freeze. I asked myself is this what you wanted? I sit there for 20 minutes looking at the 360 view and vast expanse of clouds and other peaks. It was a sight imprinted. I make a call to the base camp at 8 am exactly 13 hrs later that we have done it, feeling a relief!

A few minutes later after clicking necessary proof pictures, we start descending. The most difficult part.

 

As the descent starts, we reach camp 4 and two of my team members became snow blind and one started having frostbite in his fingers. We hardly managed to reach camp 3 as everyone was so tired that we could hardly walk. I being the leader had to make them reach safely even though I did not have one percent energy left. 72 hrs without food crushed your body, it was like walking in the desert but of snow and during daytime it’s as hit as 40 degrees. Somehow we dragged ourselves to camp 3 and had to spend another night without food. Next morning we made our slow descent to camp 2, the condition of patients was worsening and I was worried that one might lose all his fingers. I also started having frostbite in both my feet and when I took off the shoes the whole skin peeled off. Finally, a call was made to evacuate three patients and me from camp 2 to base camp by chopper. It cost me 8000 USD to sort and if it’s from camp 3 then 24000 USD which is more than the whole expedition cost for a 5 member team. Meanwhile, we heard the sad news of Indian climber passing away. All through expedition we saw dead people dying and sherpas leaving them back. So now all these bodies have become reference points. Camp 3 and camp 4 are full of human shit and pee. We have to take care of this peak before it becomes a tourist centre. I mean we are climbing to worship a Goddess but this is what we humans do there.

 

Reaching base camp was the time I realised that I am back alive with the whole team safe and no major medical problems. The three patients were sent to Delhi and rest of the team trekked back and finally, we flew to our home country.

As soon as I landed in India there was this sudden withdrawal or sadness that what now?

Even though I was busy with presentations, I was sad. I felt like I left a part of me there.

 

Understanding that it is a mountain withdrawal, I was diagnosed with anxiety and that my cancer was back in stage 1. But I was not sad about it because I felt that I did something which I would have never even dreamt of.

People often ask me how was your experience? What did you feel? How was it like on top of the world?

I am often left speechless because of that, I was at the top.

What is the point of sharing my story? Even though you have been through hell in your life you should never think that you can’t do it, it’s not about Everest, it is about your ‘mind’.

Whatever adventure you do, find a connection to it, don’t do it just because you have the time and money for it. Relate to it. Feel connected to it. I see a lot of youngsters who go for trekking without training just to get good pictures. Get educated and train well before you go for it. Any mountain can turn on you!

Summit, Mount Everest

Photos by drmkaur_

 

What did I learn from climbing?

Mountains have the magical power to heal you. I have had chronic depression and climbing mountains have been of great help. If you go into mountains and don’t come back changed then you never connected to that mountain. They are a form of God on earth and always respect them. Don’t have any ego while climbing. Respect the traditions of culture followed there.

After recovering from cancer I got addicted to adventure, I jump out of planes, I climb mountains but still am scared of water. After my accident till now, I have not ridden a bike or a car. We all have our fears to conquer. We all have the guts to do it and that’s what I do and want everyone to do it.

 

That nothing is impossible. To make your dreams reality you have to take that first step out of your comfort zone. Nothing comes easy, but then you alone have to take that step and you alone have to make that journey to live your dream. There will be many hiccups. But there will always be a way out for that.

Take chances, make mistakes, let go of the pain, that’s how you grow. Be not scared of failures. You have to fail in order to practice being brave. It’s your journey, you might get lost in the way, but you will reach your destination if you have the will. There will be the hell lot of problems in your life, how you handle them and come out alive makes you your own superhero. Climb your own Everest. Be your own Superhero!

 

As my favourite quote says, ‘A valliant coeur, rien d’impossible!’ which means, ‘For a brave heart, nothing is impossible!’

Excerpts by team member.

 

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

11 December 2017

Traveller of the Week: Tanya Khanijow

Tanya Khanijow started travelling and learning photography in 2016, she started off by expressing herself through her content on social media one frame at a time.

A traveller, blogger, vlogger and content creator, she loves to travel and find her self in different places every now and then. ‘What really drives me and encourages me to keep going is a never-ending need to explore and see the world’, says Tanya.

Tanya Khanijow

 

Tanya has always liked travelling from early childhood from the time her dad got posted to a new location, courtesy Indian Army.

Through the Indian Army, she has had the opportunity to stay at some of the most pristine locations in India. ‘I’ve changed as many as nine schools. And to be honest, I loved it. It provided me with a new perspective on a place, and people when I was as young as 3-4 years. I learned early on in life, the value of travelling and change’, she says.

 

During her college days, Tanya would find herself making plans on the spur of the moment to travel to different places. She would save her monthly allowance and hustle to travel. She has travelled in local trains, public buses, rickety mountain vehicles,  the list is endless.

 

Tanya has always loved the natural environment more than the comfort and education imbibed in a classroom. With that started her tryst with travel.

Not a full-time traveller yet, she spent 2017 working as well as travelling, intending to travel full time from next year.

Also a spontaneous traveller, she doesn’t plan the destination or things to do in advance. If she sees there is free time available on her calendar, she takes seconds to decide the best place for the time and plans economically by booking cheap flight tickets, she then skims through blogs and web resources for a brief basic idea of the culture, geography and differentiating factors of the place.

5 must-visit locations according to Tanya would be, Alappuzha in Kerala. The backwaters of Kerala are beyond beautiful and one must experience village life and a little by the water lanes. ‘Try living with locals and riding on a slow-paced boat instead of a motorboat. And don’t opt for a houseboat. Houseboats are large and can only traverse in broad canals. You’ll miss out on the village life experience’, stresses the travel junkie! Her next pick would be ‘The Himalayas’, right from North to West to the East, the entire stretch of the Himalayas is beautiful and unique, she personally feels, people who have not experienced it have missed out on something so far. Right from Uttrakhand to Valley of Flowers, Roopkund Trek, treks like Kareri lake, Bhrigu lake, Parashar lake in Himachal and recently the eastern side of Himalayas in Sikkim, it has always left her awe-inspired. Next is the white salt desert of Runn of Kutch – ‘One word, WOW! It’s beautiful, unlike anything. Especially the sight of a full moon during the night against the white sand’, she says.

 

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

enroute Udiapur

Pondicherry

Alleppey, Kerala

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Bhrigu Lake, Himachal Pradesh

Udaipur, Rajasthan

Vashisht, Himachal Pradesh

 

Khanijow travels with a lot of camera equipment and instils everyone to have a dedicated space or compartment for everything whilst travelling. Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, paper soap, sanitizer and tissue paper are must-haves.

Battery pack, tripod, selfie stick – very useful commodities for travelling solo, especially if one is worried about running out of battery without a source of power for hours.

 

A big fan of chasing after sunrises and sunsets, she really enjoys waking up early and catching the morning action. It goes without saying, she loves travel photography and also her new found love for making videos.

 

A pretty impressive figure, 18 states have been covered by Khanijow along with a few international trips to countries such as China, USA, London, Aruba and Bhutan.

 

‘I think every lesson that I’ve learnt while travelling has been life-changing. But if I’ve to pinpoint one if you travel, you will change your life forever, for good’, is one life lesson she has learnt whilst travelling.

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Tanya Khanijow

 

Follow Tanya:  Instagram | Youtube

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Blog | Inspiration | Photography

9 December 2017

Why Homai Vyarawalla is a true inspiration for every generation

Homai Vyarawalla, a name not new to the photojournalist community of India is nonetheless one of the most iconic women of India’s history pre and post Independence. In 2011, she was awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award of India.

 

Homai Vyarawalla

 

With time, the first woman journalist of India received national level acclamation, even more after moving to Delhi.

She photographed many political leaders national and international, her favourite being Jawaharlal Nehru.

She photographed many leaders in the period leading up to independence, including Mohandas Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Indira Gandhi and the Nehru-Gandhi family while working as a press photographer. She also captured the various state visits of prominent figures such Dalai Lama, just after he had escaped from Tibet and John F. Kennedy and the first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

 

Her most famous pictures include the pictures of first tricolour-hoisting after Independence, the death of Mahatma Gandhi, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru releasing a pigeon, now a part of national archives.

 

Vyarawalla learned photography from a friend and began taking pictures of Bombay life at the age of 13. Originally from Navsari in Gujarat, Homai earned a diploma from Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art, Mumbai.

 

Today marks the 104th birthday of the influential woman of pre as well as post-independent India. A time when women were strictly confined to household chores until and unless one was a prominent figure in those times, Homai chose her passion and made a career out of it. An impressive step in that era, with today’s Indian woman to be much more independent and educated in the current year of 2017, a lot can be achieved if one believes in their passion and inner strength regardless of gender. Homai Vyarawalla is a true inspiration.

Pandit Nehru releasing a dove, sign of peace at a public function at the National Stadium in New Delhi, mid 1950s. // image source

Aerial View of the Republic Day Parade in Delhi taken from the top of India Gate in 1951. // image source

Mahatma Gandhi’s body at Birla House, 31st January 1948. // image source

Dances and fancy dress parties at the Gymkhana Club. Homai Vyarawalla Archive/ The Alkazi Collection of Photography

The Victoria Terminus, Bombay, 1940. Homai Vyarawalla Archive/The Alkazi Collection of Photograph

Homai Vyarawalla – India’s first woman photojournalist // image source

 

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Blog | Travel

2 December 2017

Exotic visual tour of Indian marvels | India in Pictures #002

India is a country where various dynasties have conquered and vanished through the centuries, but the beauty still remains in the form of architecture, food and people themselves!

Cultures, traditions, celebrations and manifolds of landscapes make every corner turn into a new discovery, be it a local or visitor!

Here is a series of visuals by Creative Heads from all over the country.

 

Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan // ©Ankit Kumar

 

Nandgaon, Uttar Pradesh // ©Mohit Tejpal

 

Dal Lake, Srinagar // ©Nissar Rafiquee

 

CST, Mumbai // ©Yash Sheth

 

Sam Dunes Jaisalmer // ©Tanvi Sharma

 

Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir // ©Manali Jain

 

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh  // ©Abhishek Kumar Singh

 

Bhabha Valley, Kinnaur // ©Ashish

 

Kochi // ©Ravinder Singh

 

Munnar, Kerala // ©Rejish

 

 

Featuring series of inspiring images by Creative Heads from all over the country as ‘India in Pictures’.

 

Rules to submit for ‘India in Pictures’ here .

 

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#147

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Photography

24 November 2017

Creative Head of the week: Nupur Singh

Nupur Singh hails from National Institute of Fashion Technology in Mumbai. She learnt Fashion Photography in college but never entirely picked it up until she joined Instagram in 2013.

A platform to share her photos and stay up to date with what her friends were doing got her in the mood!

 

She started liking neat frames once she realised Instagram was much more than a social media application. It was full of

designers, artists, photographers, bakers, video-makers, bloggers and content creators sparking the inspiration instantly.

 

Nupur is all in for expression, ‘I want to express to the world my liking for food, for ordinary doors and walls, for flowers. I want to express my troubled thoughts. I want to express my fashion sense. I want to express what I think looks good’. Hence, she creates her expressions in the form of pictures!

 

She looks for a story in her pictures, where the subject came from, how the subject poses and what compliments the subject.

For instance, whilst styling a dish, she makes sure to play around with a few ingredients on the side to give the viewer the feel of how it was prepared.

 

Nupur doesn’t follow any rules while preparing frames, whatever feels right in the moment gets her attention and on work to create pictures. The elements are kept ready before every shoot, however, the composition of those is done spontaneously!

 

A Canon 60D semi-professional camera, coupled with 50mm f/1.8  and 24mm f/2.8 lenses make the cut to her photography gear.

She shoots in raw format, following which her pictures go through four stages of editing – Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, VSCO and finally some minor Instagram adjustments.

 

 

The online creative community inspires her the most. Appreciations and compliments from followers on Instagram,

inspires her to become even better. ‘You see, inspiration is everywhere. One just has to find it!’, says Nupur Singh.

 

Photos by ©Nupur Singh

Follow Nupur: Instagram 

 

“Inspiro India will be featuring bloggers every week irrespective of what they blog. To get featured on Inspiro India simply use ‘#iiblogger’ on Instagram ”

 

Check out his full feature in April’17 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#37 – Download Free.

 

 

 

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Blog | Travel

20 November 2017

Traveller of the Week: Prakriti Varshney

Prakriti Varshney is a 22-year-old adventurer whose physical state resides in the Delhi plains but her soul lingers throughout the Himalayas. According to her father’s retellings, she has always been the one with the fiery adventure streak. Brought up against the typical feminine norms, her father acknowledged the latent strength in her in the early years itself. He moulded her into a self-sufficient human, and she owes a lot to him for this.

 

Prakriti Varshney

 

A graduate in Fashion and Apparel Designing, Prakriti realized during her very first work experience with a start-up that this is not her cup of tea! Living a life with a mundane, robotic routine is not what she desires. There was sufficient money but always a restless mind. Overworked, she was in a perpetual dilemma “What am I grinding myself for?” and she couldn’t find a suitable answer. That’s the day she quit a life with a routine to start a journey without a specific road-map.

 

Adventure and Exploration are the two terms that drive her to do things-let it be about trying a new cuisine or learn about a new form of art.  Her first solo trip was to Spiti Valley on a shoestring budget. The trip covered a span of 8 days on a budget of mere 4000 rupees. She carried along certain essentials like a tent and a sleeping bag, commuted in roadways, hitchhiked from one village to the other and interacted with new people around. It was a phenomenal experience for her.

Her next planned trip is to North East for a month starting next week, followed by two months, January and February in Leh and Ladakh. She prefers travelling solo because then you’re all about your own self and at your own ease.  She loves solo trips because she can have her own plan of action and there is no room for friction due to disagreements. It is certainly risky to travel alone, but the liberating experience is worth the risk.

 

Prakriti is a full-time traveller. On being asked about her first and foremost confrontation with her family regarding her profession, she did reveal that apart from her survival in harsh climatic conditions, her parents were worried about her safety when she planned her very first expedition, to which she agrees to some extent. Being a girl, one has to face some sort of unnerving experiences every day, and hers was a decision to travel thousands of kilometres away from home.  Her priority is not to tick off the places on her bucket list but to travel to learn, grow and absorb whatever is out there. She is open to change and doesn’t necessarily follow a schedule during her travels. She mentions, “If I like a place more than the others, I might decide to stay for a longer period to satisfy my soul than to keep following the itinerary.”

She lists down some of her favourite destinations from India: Spiti Valley – Closest to heart, this land has everything to offer, from larger than life landscapes to exquisite art to never dying culture to the sweetest and kindest people.  Even after 6 rounds in the same year, it always feels like something more to explore. Auroville – A place where in the middle of chaos, you will find calm. If you seek serenity and fun together, this place is a must. Ride a bicycle, do meditation sessions, chase butterflies in the botanical garden, try different cuisines, grab some eateries & head to the beach to witness the spellbinding sunset.

Uttrakhand – The state is a wholesome package for travellers. It is famously termed “Devbhoomi” (the abode of Gods), for Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath maintain that chaste aura. Whitewater rafting and Yoga in Rishikesh, legendary Ramjhula and Lakshmanjhula, serene blue lakes in Nainital, presence of wild animals in Jim Corbett National Park, around 500 species of flowers in Valley of Flowers, and land of some of the highest mountain peaks in the world – Nanda Devi, Kamet, Hardeol, Chaukhamba, Trishul- in short, a pit stop for most of the adventures you seek.

Kanyakumari – The southernmost point of India surrounded by sea on three sides, the place offers one of the most scenic sunset and sunrise views.

Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh – It is a spot known as the highest paragliding site one would never regret having a bird’s eye view.   Her travel essentials include her LifeStraw (not when travelling in the Himalayas), a diary and a pen to journal her excursions, sunscreen lotion, a waterproof bag, and of course her camera and earphones. Prakriti enjoys the most her moments of solace. She could sit in a corner of the road for hours and observe everything that is around her. She is also fond of meeting strangers in unknown places, with a myriad of stories and experiences.  She hasn’t travelled around a single state in an exhaustive manner as of now but has covered certain towns, cities and even villages in around 17 states so far. She has planned to cover two more in the next two months. She feels it is essential to roam about every niche of a state to be thorough with it, and not just pay a visit to certain famous tourist spots. Although she has been to Dubai and Oman in her teenage years, she has decided to take up international travelling only after she has explored sufficient amount of her own country.

 

Travelling has transformed Prakriti’s core as a whole. According to her, it is an essential method or resource for learning which teaches you what you cannot grab through books. Bonding with strangers, having faith in your instincts to trust, give in to the universe, and never give up even when you fall apart. A lesson she abides to is “We can go way beyond our limits.” She recounts an anecdote of her visit to Shrikhand Mahadev, one of the toughest pilgrimages in India. During the initial phase, she made her mind to give up due to incessant exertion and injury in her knee, but she was determined to complete her journey. The sight of the 72 feet tall Shivling after the commencement of a tedious journey was definitely something to vouch for!

 

Chandertaal Lake

Bir Billing, Himachal

Chandrashila Top, Uttrakhand

Kanyakumari

Langza, Spiti Valley

Last light, Kanyakumari

Mane, Spiti Valley

Mt. Dronagiri, Uttrakhand

Spiti Valley

Trekking in Himachal

 

Varshney shares an interesting tale from one of her travel adventures.  “While I was in Spiti Valley for two months, August-September, I decided to hike to Key Monastery which was about 14 km from Kaza. After walking for about 6 km, I witnessed a splendid view at the turn of a road. I remained frozen to that spot for almost two and a half hours. I was unaware of the curiosity I created among passers-by, until a couple passing by on a motorbike decided to halt. They too were on the way to Key Monastery. At first, they thought that I might be taking a break due to exhaustion, but they saw me sitting at the same spot while returning hence they stopped by and asked.  I burst out laughing and had no answer to their query! They even offered a ride back to Kaza but I was completely embarrassed by now.”

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Prakriti Varshney

 

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Blog | Interviews | Photography

2 November 2017

Interview with Photographer: Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi

Dr. Tabeenah, a senior journalist, is presently the Bureau Head of Deccan Herald in Rajasthan apart from being a vivid photographer. Born and brought up in the valley of Kashmir, Qureshi pursued her master’s and Ph.D. in Jaipur, Rajasthan, which she now calls her second home.
She chased her passion for photography diligently and went on to win the National Award in Photography conferred by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt of India. Dr. Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi is the first woman photographer from Rajasthan and Kashmir to bag the imminent award.
Camera for her is a co-traveller as she ventures out to click some of the most stupendous photographs. Her usual style follows the monochrome school of thought. Her work on Kashmir Floods was displayed in APPRA international conference in Kathmandu, in 2015. After completion of her doctorate degree, she was venerated with the prestigious UNICEF Media fellowship under which she researched on ‘Impact of Swachh Bharat Campaign in Tribal areas of Rajasthan’.

Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi

 

Inspiro India: Tell us something about yourself and how did you start creating?

– I call it the experiences of ‘a mountain girl wandering in the desert’. I won’t call it matter of chance but I owe a lot to Jaipur, my current residential city for pursuing the hidden passion of Photography. In the second year of my course, 2009, I participated in a three-week photojournalism workshop and that’s how the journey started. That time I did not have a camera to use, so I captured the photographs with the borrowed camera of my teacher Prof, Sanjeev Bhanawat, Head Centre for Mass Communication. It was my first exploration of Jaipur city with a camera. I started seeing new things. I would stop and observe. Looking through the viewfinder was an entirely different experience. When I returned to Kashmir in summer vacations, after seeing some prints of the photographs from the workshop that were later displayed in the exhibition, my parents gifted me a canon digital camera. I would roam around the city, into unknown lanes, revisit places, with my cotraveller. It was like revisiting my birthplace. So all through my vacations I would keep a camera in my bag and photograph everything. Then there was no stopping it. The camera became an ornament for me. I would wear it around my neck and feel proud.

 

Inspiro India: Did you face any kind of problems while pursuing this field? How satisfied do you feel after working in this field?

– Since photography is not just my profession but a fulfilling hobby and passion. It is a form of expression for me. I teach photography and photojournalism in colleges, university, and schools. It is always good to strike a conversation with new entrants, it feels as if one is revisiting her beginning days.

 

 

Inspiro India: Can you talk about your photo documentaries and ways of working?

– My style is both Documentary and Photojournalistic. Since I am a journalist and end up working on news stories, so gradually it has taken a form in the style of my photography. I love to capture people, subjects from the street, issues and of course, there are traces of abstract photography too in most of my work. For first three years I would capture everything randomly but with time I realized that there should be a body of work.
One major difference between Rajasthan and Kashmir is that the desert is more colourful. In the last 7 years I have travelled to most places in Rajasthan and being a woman photojournalist has helped me in terms of getting lovely portraits of women who otherwise get conscious in the presence of men.
I love black and white photographs. I believe they make our subjects more powerful. But sometimes colours too are important.

 

Inspiro India: How would you describe your photography style?

– Mine is a freestyle photography work. I love to capture emotions, geometry and off course every photograph has a story behind it. Autumn is my favourite month and I have captured it the most, especially crimson chinars in Kashmir. Besides this, I love to capture the bond between generations, women through veils, and practices of faith through photographs.

 

Inspiro India: If not this, What would have Tabeenah been doing? What did you aspire to be as a child?

– Well, I think that even in an imaginary world I would be doing exactly what I am doing right now! I say this because recently a friend of mine in Kashmir shared a page of a slam book with me. It mentions that when I had filled that, I was in class 7th. Interestingly, There is a question which says 1. What do you want to become in your life? And my answer which I had completely forgotten was ‘ Journalist, Teacher or a Doctor’. I am blessed that I am all three.
Recently I’ve earned a doctorate degree as well. My thesis was on Social Media. My inspiration to be a teacher came from my mother, the aim to become a doctor comes after seeing my grandfather who was a doctor treating patients, and I wanted to be a journalist because my hometown was always a center of attraction.

 

Inspiro India: Describe your post-processing workflow? What camera/s do you shoot with? And your favourite lenses and other equipment that you use?

– To be honest, I don’t do much post-processing. The only bit of contrast and conversion into Black and white. I stick to the basic principles of editing that was allowed in darkroom editing. I use canon 600D, and two lenses 40 mm and 18-135 mm. I bought it in 2013 and have not changed my kit since then. I believe more than the gadget one needs to learn and adapt the art of seeing. Gadgets are important and compositions are important as well. Also, I believe that a creative mentor is important to polish your skills, and for that, I am thankful to my friend and mentor Mr. Himanshu Vyas for being there.

 

Inspiro India: You are the recipient of prestigious 4th National Award in Photography (Amateur category), Conferred by I &B Ministry, Govt of India. Do you believe Awards and recognitions make any difference?

– Yes, that way I have been lucky enough. To some extent, they do make a difference. I believe that one should participate in as many competitions as he/she can. This way your photographic work gets reviewed as well. Otherwise, they just remain confined to our laptops and hard drives.

 

Inspiro India: Your favourite series and story behind it?

– One of my favourite series is on Kashmir flood – ‘Resilience- Kashmir Floods’. A photo story of 24 photographs which were displayed at APPRA international conference in Kathmandu in 2015. I have captured them in the autumn of 2014 when Jhelum breached its banks and swamped not only the golden Chinar leaves that were still falling in Kashmir but just about everything. People, cows, houses, trees…all were swept away by the river, flooded with incessant rains. The strong wooden pillars of Kashmiri homes that were inundated, weakened and worn off.
The photo exhibition was a depiction of life just after floods in a resilient valley. The strength and grace with which the people of Kashmir faced their fate are palpable. Photos show quiet and calm on hurt faces just as there was warm coming together of families and extended relatives. There was a struggle of migration but there’s also peace and surrender manifest at the doors of the shrines.
A year after the valley took one of its worst disasters in its stride; the social, economic and political impact of the floods are now woven into its fabric with some permanence. With a greater degree of permanence, autumn’s ripe in the valley again. As the golden Chinar leaves glide through nippy October air, lotus blooms are smugly afloat, canoes are ferrying & nadru, across and people are patiently rebuilding their lives amidst many rounds of Kahwa. Jhelum is flowing in its familiar rhythm.

 

Inspiro India: You are a journalist and working with a national newspaper, how does your passion help you in your career?

– Well, nowadays, it’s important for a journalist to have knowledge of all fields. It gives me an extra mileage as I can capture photographs from the story I am doing in my newspaper. It is always good if you know both the arts.

 

Inspiro India: Out of all the photographs you have ever taken, which is your favourite and why?

– There are many. Most of them are from the month of Autumn and by the sides of river Jhelum, in Srinagar, one of my favourite and only places to hang out in Kashmir. One photograph has the reflection of houseboats and chinars floating over the river. Then there is one of my initial photographs, a chinar in midair. Also, a frame with chinar on the mouth of Verinag, the source of river Jhelum.

 

 

favourite photograph

Resilience – Kashmir Floods – Photo Series by ©Dr. Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi

 

Inspiro India: What advice would the artist inside you like to pass on to our readers?

– There is just one advice, keep clicking and ‘practice patience’. Don’t just treat your subjects merely as elements in your pictures. Try to be friendly with them. Also, I believe that Photography is an art, a photo might take seconds to form but a real good photograph takes sense and a mind of the photographer. Discuss your photographs, with your fellow photographers, friends, and parents. Discuss.

 

Check out his full feature in May’17 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#38 – Download Free.

 

 

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Blog | Travel

30 October 2017

Traveller of the Week : Kamya

Kamya is a 25-year-old travelling hippie who has been on the road for 2 years. She studied economics and has a strong interest in development economics, which she wants to combine with her love for travelling to make a difference in society. She is interested in issues of waste management and environmental awareness. She has always been a traveller, “From a young age, I used to walk off into the forests and explore new places, coming home late to a scolding from my parents,” she says. Though she is Indian by origin, she was born and brought up in the UK, and now considers herself a universal being.

 

Kamya

 

Travelling over the long-term has allowed her to explore herself and forge her direction in life. After studying economics at Warwick University, she decided to take a break to give some time to herself and that’s when she started off with her first trip to South East Asia. Now, travelling has become her way of living.

 

Kamya has been mostly travelling solo for the past two years and prefers it to travelling in groups because it allows her to expand as a person. A full-time traveller, she sustains herself by online tutoring and working in the places she travels to. The traveller partly attributes her nomadic nature to her parents, who moved house every year or two when she was a child. She hasn’t faced any objections when it comes to her lifestyle.

 

Travelling for Kamya goes both ways, planned and spontaneous. She does a meticulous research about the place she wants to visit and prepares an Excel sheet which helps her book things in advance and save money. Once she is in the place, she is open to changes, “I’ll spontaneously change my itinerary depending on what feels right, but it’s good to know a lot about the place to be able to make informed decisions and go beyond commonly traversed routes,” she claims.

 

 

Out of all the places she has travelled too, she suggested these give as those which were most memorable:
Spiti And Kinnaur: “Travelling through Spiti and Kinnaur is no easy task; the roads are some of the most dangerous, but the scenery is mind-blowing,” she says. Travelling here has made her fearless, stronger and humble towards nature.

 

East Java: Indonesia has everything: vast jungles, gigantic waterfalls, and volcanic craters. Mount Bromo and ljen Crater were places that she found particularly unique.
Switzerland: “This is probably my favourite country on earth,” she says. It’s so small which makes it easy to get around, and has tons of hikes, lakes, and mountains.

 

Tuscany: She fell in love with the rolling hills, soft sunrises and vast fields of grapevines. “The wine here is the best I’ve had,” she says. It’s a scenic place with clean energy.

 

Khao Sok National Park: This is a huge national park which is only accessible by boat. Here you can stay in wooden huts in the middle of the lake, hike in the jungles, and rent a kayak.

 

For Kamya, 5 must-haves whilst travelling include her tea bottle, her waterproof bag, extra debit cards, her Sennheiser HD25 headphones, and camera. She shoots with the Sony A6000 and the 16-50mm standard lens that comes with it. “It’s a good idea to carry two or three cards with you in case you are stuck, because getting money in a foreign country is extremely difficult,” she says.

 

Kamya lived in Banglore for two years and has covered a lot of South India during that time. Her favourite place in India is Himachal. She likes to spend a lot of time in one region to explore it fully rather than trying to cover as many places as possible. Internationally, she has travelled mostly around South East Asia and Europe.

 

Atrani, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Dolomites, Italy

Grimsel Pass, Switzerland

Ijen Crater, Indonesia

Kinnaur, India

Koh Phangan, Thailand

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Dolomites, Italy

Luang Prabang, Laos

North Bali, Indonesia

 

Travelling has transformed Kamya in a lot of ways and one of the most important things that she has learnt is to forgive, forget, and let go of things. “We often get caught up in unfulfilling activities, people, and ideas about ourself. Always being on the move means there’s no space to hold onto things which don’t serve you.” She says that long-term travel has taught her to be herself and not worry about other people. “It has taught me that I have everything inside me and that I am completely in charge of my experience of life.”

 

For now, Kamya is planning to stay in Himachal during the summers to work a campsite and a waste management system for the villagers and to work abroad for the remaining time.

Words by Swati George
Images by ©Kamya

 

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Blog | Interviews | Photography

12 October 2017

Interview with Photographer : Rema Chaudhary

Meet the woman who quit stock market to pursue photography full time.

Rema Chaudhary

 

Inspiro India: Tell us something about yourself and how did you start creating?

– Well, I worked with my father in the stock market for 2 years before I decided I wanted to pursue photography. I’d always carry my point and shoot camera around when I was in college, taking pictures of the most ordinary things. So I bought a DSLR and started shooting portraits of my dad’s employees and taking pictures on my commute to work every day. I got good feedback from family and friends and decided this is what I wanted to do. At some point in 2010, I got my first commercial job which was a real eye opener because that’s when I realised that this is not easy! Then I went on to study it in Massachusetts at Hallmark institute of Photography and I think that’s where it all really started for me.

 

Inspiro India: Can you talk a bit about your mesmerising portraits and your way of working?

– I spend a lot of time location hunting. I think nothing inspires me more than being outside surrounded by nature. I have endless notes on my phone with pictures of things and their location, whether it’s a random tree or a strange door or a pretty staircase. I keep revisiting my notes and try to figure out what I would like to shoot there. It’s probably the most important part of the entire process for me, and also the most private. Unlike all the other aspects, I’m very used to doing this alone. Apart from that, a lot of it evolves as we go along. I try and evoke a sort of harmony between the environment and my subject, whether it’s with their gesture or expression.

 

 

Inspiro India: Did you face any problems while pursuing this field? How satisfied do you feel after working in this field?

– Yes of course, what is any profession without problems anyways. It was rough in the beginning. The work you get to do more often than not depends on your network rather than your actual work, which is sad. Another thing is when people will commission you to create something that has already been done have absolutely no vision of their own. I find that incredibly nerve-racking. But it’s starting to change slowly.

 

Inspiro India: How would you describe your photography style?

– Aaaah that’s a tough one. But I guess you could say intimate and at times, melancholic almost. Something that is more about the feeling than it is about the content.

 

Inspiro India: Which genre of photography interests you the most? and why? What are your top three favourite photography locations?

– I do enjoy shooting people. Whether it’s portraits or a fashion sort of setting. I think Fashion photography allows me to explore the kind of photography I like which is moody and has a narrative. No top locations but I do love shooting outdoors.

 

Inspiro India: Your portfolio includes quite a lot of portraiture. Walk us through your process of creating a great portrait?

– I’ve realised that for portraits, less is more. I try staying away from directing my subject too much because it can get confusing and they often lose themselves. I will just give them a very basic brief of what I’m looking for and then kind of let them get comfortable or even uncomfortable for that matter in that environment. I’m very disconnected from my subject during portrait sessions and I think a lot of the great shots, for me, happen in the awkward silences.

 

Inspiro India: Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in fashion photography? What gear are you looking forward to purchasing next?

– I do think that more than the gear you use, you have to have the eye for it, and you will make some amazing images if you do. It’s really not about the most expensive camera and lenses. But either way, I use the Canon 5D mark III and just invested in the Sony a7R II last week, so I’m still getting used to the switch.

 

Inspiro India: Describe your post-processing workflow? Which camera do you shoot with? Tell us about your favourite lens and equipment.

– Well, it starts with taking everything into Lightroom. Shortlisting photos probably takes the most time. I go through 2-3 rounds of shortlists, the first time I look at the images and then come back to it a few days later to see if I feel differently about any of them. Once I know which ones I’m going to work on, I start colour correcting and making other adjustments after which I take it to photoshop to refine them further if need be.
My favourite lens has to be the 85mm. I shoot everything I can with that lens.

 

Inspiro India: What did you want to become as a child? Any dream which is still on your bucket list?

– I honestly don’t even have a memory of what I wanted to be as a child. I always thought I’m going to grow up and start working with my father because that’s just how things happened in my house. But currently, my dream is to learn how to play the piano.

 

Inspiro India:If not this, What would Rema be doing?

-I would be a musician.

 

Inspiro India: Which is your favourite photograph you’ve taken till date and why?

– Hard to pick a favourite really, there are so many! But I think one of my all time favourites would be this image I shot last year for Roha. I would explain why I like it but that would just be me generating my own propaganda. I’d rather have the viewer project their own narrative onto the picture.

 

 

favourite photograph

Photos by ©Rema Chaudhary

 

Inspiro India: What advice would the artist inside you like to pass on to our readers?

– I would tell them to go out and keep shooting. Don’t just look at pictures. Study them, and keep trying to get better. Don’t worry about who will or will not like it, you simply can not please everyone.

 

Check out his full feature in February’17 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#35 – Download Free.

 

 

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Interview with Photographer: Nayantara Parikh

Nayantara Parikh // ©Chloe Walker

Nayantara is a fashion and portrait photographer based in New Delhi.

 

Inspiro India: Tell us something about yourself and how did you start creating?

– My background and training are in film and cinematography. I loved movies and at 16 I decided I wanted to be behind the camera. The love for shooting developed in college – where I quickly realised I had no interest in directing movies and only wanted to shoot them. When I moved back after 8 years, I made the shift to still photography and started specialising in portrait and fashion rather than feature films.

 

Inspiro India: Can you talk a bit about your stunning portraits and way of working? 

– I like to keep the mood light on set, but I am not a fan of people talking too much while we are shooting. It’s important to maintain a good mood, even if you’re having a bad day- your mood can affect the subject and the entire shoot day. Your subject needs to trust you. Taking a picture of someone can be very intimate.

 

 

Inspiro India: Did you face any kind of problems while pursuing this field? How satisfied do you feel after working in this field?

– I have constant issues with my health, but that’s a good reminder to anyone that when you have a physical job you must keep in shape. And by in shape I mean strengthen the muscles you use every day – it sounds simple, but by not doing so one can be in a lot of pain (trust me, I know!). The schedule of working constantly can be gruelling, so its good to make rules for oneself- otherwise you work every single day, all hours of the day and night. I try to not take work calls at meal times or after 9pm.

 

Inspiro India: What is it about Fashion/Portrait photography that interest you the most? What are your top three favourite photography locations? and Why?

– I love shooting faces, they are full of stories. I had promised myself to not work in Fashion when I returned from the States (because of the hectic schedules), but after one fashion shoot I knew that’s where my strength lay. I have no favourite locations as such. I love shooting people in their homes. I assisted shooting a movie in Tulum, Mexico a few years ago – we shot in the Cenote. It was absolutely stunning and I would love to go back and do a shoot there.

 


 

Inspiro India: If not this, What would have Nayantara been doing?

– I wish I could bake and ice cakes all day. Or I would go back to my original path and shoot movies. I can’t really imagine a life where I’m not behind the camera.

 

Inspiro India: Natural light or Studio Light?

– I almost always shoot with natural or available light. I augment that light with LED light panels if need be. I can’t think in a studio when I see a white wall- my brain goes blank. Because I learned lighting for film, I am very attached to constant light sources and I try to never use strobes.

 

 

Inspiro India: Who is your all-time favorite model to work with?

– I’ve shot Rodali a lot and I absolutely love shooting her.

 

Inspiro India: Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in fashion photography? What are you looking forward to purchase next?

– I am tired of renting and I want to buy my own LED light panels. If I could purchase anything I would get 2 x 4 bank 4 ft Kinos with tungsten and daylight bulbs. I also need to add a variable ND filter to my kit. It is important to plan ahead 85% (with your stylist, make up artist, etc) and leave the rest to the magic that happens on set. It might sound cheesy, but one can’t control everything when one is shooting. I’m also a firm believer in practice makes perfect. Don’t over shoot, don’t over process, and wait for the right moment to press the button. Even though most of us shoot digital these days, I try to treat it like film (which I learned on), measuring when to take a shot as opposed to taking a burst of images.

 

 

 

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Inspiro India: What did you want to become as a child? What dream is still on your bucket list?

– I wanted to be everything from a lawyer to an usher to a businesswoman. But for now its a dream of mine to shoot feature films and has been for many years. When the time is right, I will go back to movies I hope.

 

Inspiro India: Out of all the photographs you have ever taken, which is your favourite and why?

– I can’t choose one! In terms of my series’ I love the Berlin Series. It’s the first thing I shot and it is very close to my heart. Not only because the subject is my sister, but because it was the first time I felt that maybe I was good.

 

Inspiro India: Describe your post-processing work flow? What camera/s do you shoot with? And your favourite lenses and other equipment that you use?

– I shoot handheld with a Canon 5D mkiii. I am obsessed with shooting on a 50mm, and I like to shoot wide open. I had a canon 50mm 1.8 that is extremely light and a terrible lens (the focus is awful- if you’ve used it, you know) but I love it. I recently switched to the canon 50mm 1.4 and I am incredibly happy with it. I download raw files onto my drive and import into Lightroom. I have several presets that I am attached to, however for each shoot the look is adjusted according to what the client has asked for and the brief they’ve given. Then into photoshop for additional colur corrections if needed and touch ups. I back up to two drives and I don’t delete anything – even the stuff I hate, so I can remember how and where to improve.

 

Inspiro India: What advice would the artist inside you like to pass on to our readers?

– Practice every day. If you aren’t shooting then read about it, if you aren’t reading about it then look at images of the masters, study how the are lighting, framing and exposing. There is always something new to learn. It’s better to admit you don’t know something and learn it, than to pretend you know something and f*ck things up.

 

 

©Nayantara Parikh

Inspiro India: What do you think about Inspiro India Magazine?

– I think its amazing to have a resource for photography and the arts in India, especially one that respects newer artists and content coming out of India. We need a platform to showcase our work, and there are definitely enough people working in creative fields for us to have sufficient content.

 

Check out her full feature in November Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#33 – Download Free.

 

 

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Blog | Photography

15 June 2016

Photography by Tanu Nejagal

Meet Tanu Nejagal: Our artist is a pearl in the sea of photography. In an age of 26, she has reached so far that there is no looking back. Staying in East Delhi, she has excelled in the field of photography. It is perfectly said ‘love birds are an inspiration for each other and an example for the world. ’Her inspiration and support is her husband who has been there with her and supported her now and then. A fashion photographer by profession, she has worked with many big names. She does not have much time apart from her work. She is professionally into fashion photography and wedding photography. Our artist of the month is a pearl in the sea of photography. In an age of 26, she has reached so far that there is no looking back. Staying in East Delhi, she has excelled in the field of photography. It is perfectly said ‘love birds are an inspiration for each other and an example for the world. ’Her inspiration and support is her husband who has been there with her and supported her now and then. A fashion photographer by profession, she has worked with many big names. She does not have much time apart from her work. She is professionally into fashion photography and wedding photography.

 

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02©Tanu Nejagal

You can find more of her work here:
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