Photography Nepal | Close & Wide Angles

September 26, 2016

As people started addressing the potential of photography; photographers started channeling their creativity into specific genre and specializing in them. We talked with 8 renowned and professional Nepali photographers to understand the Nepali photography industry through their perspective.

8 Professional Nepali Photographers: Profiles

Mani Lama

Photography Genre: Travel

Bubbly, energetic and visionary Lama took his first shots at the age of 10. He started off with a black and white box camera and learnt and used the digital camera in 2000. He is the man with an exclusive first hand experience of the different generations of photography. He has been involved with numerous INGOs’ and specializes in travel photography.

Kishore Kayastha

Photography Genre: Fashion, Art/ Architectural, Documentary, Commercial, Conceptual, Landscape, Interior, Portraits

Having grown up with both his parents as photographers, his interest in the field developed from his early childhood. At the age of 9 he had already started learning it and in 2001 he had his first exhibition.

“I used to find the earlier presentation of female models in Nepali fashion photographs distasteful. So I thought, if I ever get involved in fashion photography some day, I’m going to portray them with respect and carry on the thoughts that the way you present a woman needs to be different.” says the renowned and talented artist and fashion photographer.

Uma Bista

Photography Genre: Photojournalism, Photo Documentary

It wasn’t Bistas’ childhood dream or ambition to get into photography but it was a course in her high school that introduced her to a world of lens and frames. They say “A picture can speak a thousand words” and she believes in this.  Bista started as an intern at Kantipur and slowly made her way up. To her, photography rings synonymously with story telling. Bista is a documentary photographer and photojournalist currently working at Annapurna Post. She is also an executive member in ‘photojournalist club’ where they are helping aspiring photographers regarding photojournalism.

Shahnawaz Mohammad

Photography Genre: Wedding, Fashion, Product, Interior

What started as a hobby in 2005; has now become his full time career. He has worked in the media industry for almost 17 years and professionally took up photography 7 years ago. He is the founder and photographer at Wedding Diary Nepal.

He says, “I was able to see photography as an expression of freedom.”

Om Lal Akayla

Photography Genre: Wedding

2006 was the turning point in Akaylas’ career in photography. The poetic persona specializes in wedding and event photography.

“Whenever I looked at any pictures that were a little different from the ordinary I used to wonder, how the photo must have been taken, if it had been difficult to take and such.” Fueled by his inquisitiveness and desire to learn he entered into the field of photography 10 years ago. Today he is the creative mind and talented hand behind some dazzling wedding and event photographs and has established an organization ‘fotos factory’ and is moving ahead with it.

Shruti Shrestha

Photography Genre: Photojournalism, Feature & Lifestyle

“I worked at Kantipur for about a year and later joined the Reuters News Agency in 2005. That was how my real photojournalism journey began. I started with daily hard news such as political news, disaster news and continued it until 2010.”

Currently a press photographer at Kantipur Publications, Shruti Shrestha is also a part-time photojournalism teacher. She’s also involved at Nari, a monthly Nepali magazine that focuses on different issues of women.

Lujaw Singh

Photography Genre: Heritage, Table-top, Interior & Architectural

His switch from videography to photography was a result of his realization that he was still raw and had much to learn. His walk down the path of photography began 18 years ago and there has been no turning back. He is mostly involved in freelance work with corporate houses and clients from the restaurant and food sector. He is also active in a group of heritage photographers.

Ayush Man Kayastha

Photography Genre: Wedding, Studio Portrait, Wildlife & Landscape, Festive

Kayastha started his career in photography by assisting his father and later went solo and pursued commercial wedding photography. Inspired by his family and circle of photographers he took on photography from his passion to a career.

Currently involved at KR studio, Chettrapti and Frontier color lab, Balaju. He is also working on launching a new photo studio at Bijeswori.

The Nepali Photography Industry: Perspective and Views

Mani Lama

In the duration of your involvement in the field what changes have you observed?
Previously during the times of black and white pictures, we took photos of people we knew because we were interested in taking pictures. We had to go and develop it our self and often people didn’t pay us for their pictures. Later the times of postcards began. The returns were great and the value of pictures too. These days everyone has a camera; even if you own a smart phone you’re automatically equipped with a camera. So everyone is always taking pictures now.

Earlier when I took a picture from Swayambunath there were open fields, farm lands and a few scattered houses. But now when you take a look around, there are concrete buildings everywhere. The subject matter in heritage photography and others have seen a lot of changes due to different factors.

Even in terms of attires and outfits when I visited Gosainkunda some years ago people adorned the traditional outfits and costumes but now everyone is in jeans, sneakers and so on. Westernization, modernization, urbanization and all these have led to changes in the subject matter of photography itself.

What could be the prospect for photography industry here in Nepal?
Magazines do not pay much for travel photographs so the situation for travel photography is very difficult. But even travel photography has its own bright side; there are travel magazines that financially support/ cover travel expenses of travel photographers. They later publish the shots taken by those photographers during their journey.

Kishore Kayastha

What do you think of the current situation of Nepali photography industry?
There has been a lot of technological development and there’s opportunity for even raw beginners. There’s also a lot of money in the industry at the moment. So it’s fantastic, there’s a lot of scope here for anyone who’s willing to work hard for it.

In the duration of your involvement in the field what changes have you observed?
The market. 15 years ago you could earn better than you can now.  For example, I started shooting for calendars in 2003. At that time you could get a certain amount on a single project, but now the same project comes at around just half. Also, in commercial photography the way something was explored creatively before isn’t done in the same way anymore. So, with time a lot have changed.

These days there are online tutors, workshops and even classes held for interested photographers. What is your view on it?
You can easily learn a lot with the help of these sessions so I think it’s very good for everyone. Instead of just wasting a few thousand at some useless photography lesson at least now one can learn easily from these websites and classes in their own time.

Uma Bista

What do you think of the current situation of Nepali photography industry?
Nepal is a great destination for photographers from around the world, so that itself makes the conditions quite favorable. But again it is very difficult to work here due to many reasons such as market for photography.

In the duration of your involvement in the field what changes have you observed?
With technological advancement, photography has become accessible to everyone; even mobile phones have HD cameras built-in these days. 5 years earlier we would be very skeptical about posting a picture taken with a mobile phone but now pictures taken by a phone are even put as banner images. So technological changes and accessibility has to be the biggest changes that have occurred.

Shahnawaz Mohammad

What do you think of the current situation of Nepali photography industry?
In my opinion, the changes that have come in wedding photography arrived in the last 5 years here in Nepal. In the duration of these 5 years there has been a lots of improvement, but to fulfill the required level of creativity it will still take some time, and even an environment for this to grow still needs to be created.

In the duration of your involvement in the field what changes have you observed?
People now raise a question about why they should purchase a new camera or what new tweaks and features have been added to it.  Also people have started to understand that it’s not just the body of a camera but even the lens that play an important role in photography. Even among the clients, they’ve started understanding the value of quality pictures.

These days there are online tutors, workshops and even classes held for interested photographers. What is your view on it?
If you don’t have any knowledge about it, simply watching some videos is not enough because it’s difficult to understand as it lacks detailed knowledge giving information. But once you have acquired some basic knowledge and take the assistance of such tutorial or classes then I believe you can benefit from these classes and sessions.

Om Lal Akayla

What do you think of the current situation of Nepali photography industry?
Photography industry has flourished today. But lately people are considered photographers if they simply have the gadgets. People are carrying expensive techs but providing the service for very cheap rates, which is seriously affecting other professional photographers.

In the duration of your involvement in the field what changes have you observed?
The differences are there, right from the techniques, to the final shoot. Earlier when someone took very good photographs they were recognized as photographers, but now photographers can be good, but the editor needs to be excellent for a photo to have value. Even among the clientele there is a lot of change, earlier we did what we could, what was in our capacity but now, clients come to us with their requirements.

What could be the prospect for photography industry here in Nepal?
Now the times are very quick, clients too are very aware and want or request for particular styles of photos. Hence photographers these days have to be very quick and updated. If the situation is so now, 5 years from now it’s going to be even more advanced and competitive. So, I believe the prospect is pretty good.

These days there are online tutors, workshops and even classes held for interested photographers. What is your view on it?
People usually try to learn all at once, but the timing at which these classes and tutorials teach and one is able to learn is different. So the output is usually not as expected.

Shruti Shrestha

What do you think of the current situation of Nepali photography industry?
If we talk about just photography, it’s very good.  People are exploring different aspects of photography and even looking commercially at pre wedding, event and other types of photography. So photography has a huge platform open for it but, I don’t see the same when it comes to photojournalism. Although now’s the time of online journalism where its more about visual and photos than text, media houses still do not value photographers commercially and professionally. There is still no understanding of their importance and requirement. So in the field of photojournalism the expected growth is still not seen.

In the duration of your involvement in the field what changes have you observed?
Changes have come, but I feel that the changes are more negative and less positive. As the cameras have become more accessible, the numbers of people recognizing themselves as photographers have increased too. But I feel the quality has been compromised on. Also, I feel the older generation of photojournalists were very dedicated to the field but the same dedication is not shared by the current generation of photojournalists. They’re here because of interest and passion but are not driven to make career in it.

What could be the prospect for photography industry here in Nepal?
If education and training are promoted then the field has a lot of prospect. Wire services hire local photographers and pick their stories, but most people are not even aware of opportunities like these. If photographers are able to explore the market and get involved in self marketing then there is a lot of prospect for photographers here in Nepal itself.

These days there are online tutors, workshops and even classes held for interested photographers. What is your view on it?
These have made it very easy for us to find solutions to technical problems and to get information. But, it is very important to be aware about who is delivering such information and the reliability and accuracy of it.

Lujaw Singh

What do you think of the current situation of Nepali photography industry?
Now, it is not just photo, but a photo/video industry.  There is great scope of photography at the moment because of digitized technology and new opportunities in the field itself.

In the duration of your involvement in the field what changes have you observed?
Technology is there in its place, the cameras have improved, become more versatile but alongside even the process of developing them has now become easier. Earlier you needed to visit color labs to develop and process photos but now can develop, process and even print them at home. Another revolution in the field of photography has been the introduction of HDR.

These days there are online tutors, workshops and even classes held for interested photographers. What is your view on it?
I believe photography cannot merely be taught through theory. It has to be practiced practically. Classes can help or benefit you but learning will only be there when practiced.

Ayush Man Kayastha

What do you think of the current situation of Nepali photography industry?
The general scenario of photography in Nepal at present is quite good. The people interested in photography have increased now. Almost every field demands a photographer these days, which means that the scope is quite wide too.

In the duration of your involvement in the field what changes have you observed?
Photographers have a lot of facilities lately. Earlier if we needed High Quality photos we had to use slides in which we could get only 12 shot photos in the 120 formats. Also lighting was a huge issue with the lack of in built ISO systems. But now, with technological development all of our basic requirements come packed in a single camera. Also, photographers were more respected earlier as there were very few professionals.

The transition phase from negatives to digital was definitely a very difficult time for photographers as the new access to it created many misconceptions among the general people about the importance of professional photographers.

What could be the prospect for photography industry here in Nepal?
I’m very passionate about wedding and studio photography but I enjoy wildlife photography the most. I don’t think I could have moved ahead in this field if it weren’t for my involvement in wedding photography because there is a good return in wedding photography. In Nepal you won’t really get much of monetary returns by indulging in wildlife or landscape photography. So, while prospect is good it is still limited to a very few genres.

These days there are online tutors, workshops and even classes held for interested photographers. What is your view on it?
Photography is a field where one needs to be updated. Earlier photographers were reluctant to teach others, but now we need to share and exchange our experiences and knowledge so others can learn from us and vise versa. If we’re not updated about what’s new, then we become outdated. So these online guides come into picture and definitely help.

For example new cameras are constantly entering the market so even I don’t understand how every button works or functions so these kinds of informal classes helps us learn about it.

Suggestions & Recommendations

Mani Lama

What would you like to say to photographers who are interested in entering into the mainstream photography?
– Learning or listening to someone more experienced can be very useful.
– Go through as many books and magazines as you can, because you see new photographs there and learn others’ techniques and angles. You can always learn from others no matter how good you are.

What do you believe are qualities of a good photographer?
– An artistic mind and skilled techniques.
– Good grasp of technicality and knowledge of camera and light.
– Patience: to take a certain picture in its natural setting you have to wait for the right time. When you’re dealing with certain subjects like sunset, sunrise you have to wait for it.
– “Light is important” and a good photographer knows this.

Kishore Kayastha

What would you like to say to photographers who are interested in entering into the mainstream photography?
– You don’t have to wait for someone to give you a break like you had to before. The world is your market. So don’t limit yourself.
– Be open and explore things you’re good at.
– Focus on what you can do really well and sharpen your skills at it.

What do you believe are qualities of a good photographer?
– You can never become a photographer by just taking pictures. Photography is an art so it contains emotions. You have to be able to understand and give a message to the society.
– One needs to have an artistic perspective and understanding of impact.

What kind of equipment would you recommend for beginners?
– Camera is just a tool; you need to have vision. So, work on that.

Uma Bista

What would you like to say to photographers who are interested in entering into the mainstream photography?
The field of photography and photojournalism requires a lot of dedication. You cannot just carry a camera, imitate others and call yourself a photographer. You need to be passionate about it.

What do you believe are qualities of a good photographer?
– The skill to carefully compose a picture.
– You need to have an eye for it too.
– Education or knowledge about the field.

What kind of equipment would you recommend for beginners?
– Start with what you can afford.
– There is no need for you to carry full frame or specific equipment.

Shahnawaz Mohammad

What would you like to say to photographers who are interested in entering into the mainstream photography?
– Firstly, don’t enter with a mindset to pursue commercially because when we focus on that we are often unable to deliver our best.
– Follow someone more experienced and learn from him or her and their experiences.
– Understand your subject and interest to enhance your own experiences.
– Be patient and move ahead slowly.
– Keep yourself updated.

What do you believe are qualities of a good photographer?
– Someone who can work according to their clients demand.
– Communication and coordination skill.
– Timing.

What kind of equipment would you recommend for beginners?
– Get good equipment right from the beginning itself.
– Don’t compromise on your lens.
– Look for a good brand and then focus on what you’re shooting at your early days and get equipment accordingly.

Om Lal Akayla

What would you like to say to photographers who are interested in entering into the mainstream photography?
Emerging photographers need to be aware of the industry. Photography starts as a hobby and turns into a profession. So don’t be hesitant to learn and keep yourself open to knowledge.

What do you believe are qualities of a good photographer?
– Firstly a photographer should have social etiquette “Byawaharik”.
– Have good knowledge about your gears.
– Ability to persuade or gain clients trust.
– After becoming a professional photographer especially in the line of wedding photography, I believe a dress code is of great importance too.

What kind of equipment would you recommend for beginners?
Photography is a little expensive line. It takes at least 2-3 years to learn. So why get expensive gears directly. Look for cameras that are in the budget yet offer the options of an advanced one. When you’re good with it, then go for a more advanced one.

Shruti Shrestha

What would you like to say to photographers who are interested in entering into the mainstream photography?
– Question yourself whether you’re following the herd or passionate about it. And if you’re really want to be here, be open to learning and develop your skill.
– Practice makes one better so, practice and take time, don’t rush it.

What do you believe are qualities of a good photographer?
Passion, knowledge, devotion, respect for other photographers, curiosity to learn

What kind of equipment would you recommend for beginners?
Get your cameras according to the type of photography you want to pursue.

Lujaw Singh

What would you like to say to photographers who are interested in entering into the mainstream photography?
– Only others can be the judge of your work so be humble and kind and receive feedback and recommendations made to you positively. You only grow that way.
– Also when you’re dealing with clients, understand their demands and interests.
– Learn from people who can give a proper guidance.
– Know your devices well so you can get the best out of it.

What do you believe are qualities of a good photographer?
– Basic knowledge and skill.
– Artistic view.

What kind of equipment would you recommend for beginners?
– The man behind the camera is the real deal not the camera. Firstly, use prime lens, then step up your game.
– Don’t try to gobble everything up, learn it step by step.

Ayush Man Kayastha

What would you like to say to photographers who are interested in entering into the mainstream photography?
– Learn to use your tech right. Having the latest tech is not productive if you can’t use them correctly.
– Use your cameras and lenses according to the required work.

What do you believe are qualities of a good photographer?
In terms of a good wedding photographer, when you are hired for an event, there will be people with different attitudes and behavior. So you need to have a client handling capacity. If you end up getting angry or annoyed at them, you will not leave a good impression.
Polite, friendly and social are definitely some important personal traits for a photographer.

What kind of equipment would you recommend for beginners?
Any DSLR is good while starting. But if you plan on continuing photography seriously then you need to think of which field you want to enter after learning photography and get one accordingly.  It is better to get equipment’s according to the field you plan to pursue.

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