Have camera, will travel. Meet some shutterbugs who capture the world through their cameras

There are those who click pictures while travelling and then there are those shutterbugs who travel to click the sights. Suraj Khan, Shiju S. Basheer, Sandeep Somasekharan and Venu Gopalakrishnan are some of those keen photographers who think nothing about hopping on a plane or revving up their cars and bikes in search of the next best shot. The shutterbugs talk to MetroPlus about their yen for travel photography.

Suraj Khan

“Every image has to tell a story,” says Suraj. Every other month Suraj travels the world to indulge his passion for photography. In fact, he’s just back from a photography-cum-business tour of Turkey. “The country’s unique juxtaposition of the old and the new – its heritage buildings, sculptures and culture, side by side with modern architecture and lifestyles – is a photographer’s dream,” explains Suraj. “On that note, Kerala too is a great destination for photography, particularly nature photography, because everywhere you go the greens and the blues make for striking frames. South East Asia, meanwhile, also has great scope for nature photography but its uniqueness lies in its street life that extends into the wee hours of the night. No where else in the world is street life more vibrant than in Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the likes,” he says. Suraj, a management graduate who runs a travel business, has been interested in photography since his childhood days, particularly after his parents brought him a camera. “Thanks to my business, I’m able to travel for photography. I’ve always been interested in the play of light and colour. That’s why I call myself a ‘light’ photographer; I like capturing anything and everything, from landscapes and food to people and architecture.”

Shiju S. Basheer

Shiju is a firm believer in the phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. This keen photographer who plans “photo breaks” twice a year has trained his lens on several topics. While at first, “like most novices” he started out by shooting flowers and butterflies, he then graduated to capturing the life around him, especially the “culture and moods of the place and its people”.

Shiju’s fascination with photography began after watching a documentary on war photographer James Nachway. “The documentary captured my attention and I dreamt of being a photographer ever since. I love exploring different cultures, visiting strange places, meeting new people…. Some of these people I have met, fight to survive in extreme conditions,” says Shiju who has travelled to West Asia, Nepal and Vietnam, to name a few places, and more recently Ethiopia. “Before I plan my travels, I speak to friends who have visited the place and to fellow photographers to find out if there are possibilities for my intended frames. In Ethiopia, I have captured the Hamar people’s way of life.”

Shiju says travelling and photography has changed his perspectives on life and has gained him a lot of good friends across the globe.

He plans to travel to the Melanesian island of Vanuatu to study and capture the “Vanuatu tribal life.”

Sandeep Somasekharan

Sandeep’s shots abound with nature, animals at their candid best and landscape shots off the beaten track. “I like photographing the sights in uncharted territories, far flung places in the remotest corners of the country. The flora, fauna and the scenery in the Himalayas, the Rann of Kutch, picturesque Agumbe, near Madikkeri in Karnataka, or, Perumathura Pozhi, closer to home, for example,” says Sandeep, who often uploads his photos on Flikr or on popular environmental blog ‘The Green Ogre’.

“I’m the principal photographer of the blog. Until around two years ago a bunch of us from Green Ogre used to travel together. These days, I often go off on my own, armed just with my SLR camera,” he adds. It was while living in Mysore, eight or so years ago, that Sandeep, a techie who works at an MNC in the city, got interested in photography. “Mysore has a wealth of bird life and I got interested in bird watching and subsequently, bird photography,” says Sandeep.

These days he is also into minimalistic photography. “There is so much drama in a minimalistic shot. The best photographs are always instinctive shots, something that catches my eye, which I just feel would look good on frames,” he explains. Sandeep is off to the United States for an extended assignment this week. “The first thing in the suitcase was my camera!”

Venu Gopalkrishnan

Venu Gopalkrishnan is shooting in the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh when I call him for an interview. Along with wildlife photographer Balan Madhavan and Belinda Wright, the shutterbug, who is wild about the wild, was happily clicking tigers and more.

Venu paints and sketches. Being a perfectionist, most of his works were left incomplete because he felt his paints could never capture all the reds of a sunset or the shades of greens of verdant forests. That is when he turned to painting with light – photography.

“As my father was a warden in the forest service, I have travelled to all the forests and wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala. Munnar, Thekkady, Wayanad, Rajamalai, Eravikulam .. Gavi is my favourite. Meeting Balan chettan's [Balan Madhavan] tips on photography gave me a flash of realisation into what wildlife photography was about,” says Venu.

Once the techie, who is CEO and founder of Litmus 7, amassed the financial muscle to bankroll his expeditions, his travels widened to wildlife sanctuaries in India and abroad. “In fact, I travel to click pictures,” he says. Kenya, Nepal and Spain were seen through his viewfinder as he trained his camera on flora and fauna.

The trip to Kenya was memorable because “we get to see encounters in the wild. Unlike dense forests in Kerala, in the grasslands, we get to see animals in flight, fights and feed modes. One of my favourite pictures is of two ostriches fighting,” he says. Next in focus is Antarctica.

Patience and luck, he says, are mandatory for wildlife photographers. While his camera is his companion for his trips abroad, he says that he has also managed to some great pictures around his home in Kochi.