A picturesque tale by a travel photographer

Camera expert

Behind every shot there is a story,” says Aman Chotani. The travel photographer, inspired by New York contemporary Joey L (who is known to take portrait shots), has culled out images from his various travel trips to put together 28 photographs for the exhibition ‘Portraits Talk’.

Chotani’s frames are “dramatic” and appear to have been altered with Photoshop but the lensman rejects the suggestion. “I use a lot of external light. That is the reason why pictures taken by me look different,” he explains.

While one would want to go by the name and expect to see portraits of people, Chotani informs that for him even the picture of a place is “a portrait of that place. Wherever I go, I stay for at least 20 days to capture not just the place but its ethos too. I go around from one house to another, looking for stories and then try to narrate these stories through my pictures.”  
Having worked with South African Photojournalist – Louis Kleynhans, Chotani knows the tricks of the profession and applies the same to capture not just his subject, but even his viewer’s attention.

It is difficult to not to get attracted to a picture showing wrinkled hands with a zoomed out face. “It is an ‘environmental portrait’ of a blind man, who looks at the world through his hands,” he explains.

Fascinated by sadhus, Chotani believes “Sadhus are more photogenic since I don’t have to ask their story. Every body part of theirs’ narrates their tale.”All shots taken by him depict northern India and Nepal. While the picture titled ‘Fair’s Last Day’ can be called as a portrait at sunset – of camels at Pushkar Camel Fair, the image of a mother and daughter in Nepal is an engaging visual. “Near Annapurna base camp in Nepal, I got to know about a daughter who is 94 years old and her mother who is 105. I couldn’t stop myself from capturing them both alive in one frame!”    
From the young boys on the threshold of saintly life in Varanasi’s gurukuls to the lakes in Mathura, Chotani fits it all into the definition of ‘portrait’. Except one picture which he admits is his lucky charm – The Titanic. “A tsunami had hit Durban (South Africa) and we were not allowed to go there. Still, we sneaked through a different route and on reaching I found big waves hitting a ship. This photograph appeared in many publications including the New York City Gallery and became my life-changing shot. You will find it in all my exhibitions,” he says, trying to take a better shot than this one.

Meanwhile, in case you bump into him, do not forget to say cheese for your portrait!
The exhibition will be on display from May 29 to June 1 at Open Palm Court, India Habitat Centre.

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