All Things Photography

Anoop Negi – Discovering India

Neha Singh

Anoop Negi is a photography veteran who has travelled the length and breadth of India, clicking a multitude of images which could easily be tagged as National Geographic quality.  I recently discovered his work while I was researching Indian festival options for a New Year’s photography sojourn. Anoop’s photos drew me in, and I spent two hours browsing through his Flickr stream.  His vivid images from Kambala, a bull racing event, and Theyyam, a ritual dance festival in Kerala were truly mesmerizing.  Through his compelling images, Anoop is partly responsible for my visit to those two festivals.

From making wine and cheese to making stunning photographs, Anoop Singh Negi blazes his own trails.  As a professional photographer in his native India, he has found a plethora of events and places that engage his interests and talents.  His favorite locations to shoot are places that boast sublime lighting, like Kerala, Goa, and Ladakh.

People often think of photography as a tame hobby, but Anoop’s personal experiences expose the art of capturing the perfect moment as being memorably dangerous.  He might be outwitting an imminent fall while he is moving around, preoccupied with his eyes glued to the viewfinder, or he might be diving out of the path of charging water bulls in the Kerala Bull Races.

The visual impact of the Life magazines he saw in the school library as a youngster first kindled his fire to capture moments and events.  It was many years before he could afford to buy a camera, but it was Life’s images, not icons or famous photographers that motivated him.

Anoop acquired instruction in photography by searching the internet’s big image sites to learn valuable lessons on what is considered to be good photography versus what is considered to be  bad.  He picked up a grounding in the basics of composition and color from books on art.  He firmly believes, “There is no way out there that one can avoid hard work.”

The lengthy list of his published works includes:

Lonely Planet( Australia)
Singapore Airlines for features on Goa and Kerala
Creative Gaga for photography
BBC Good Food for extensive features on food, Pune, and Goa
Discover India for photographs of Kerala, Goa, and other places
India Today Travel for images on Kerala, Meghalaya, and Goa
Fantasy magazine for portraits
Discovery Plc for advertisement campaign of their serial “Rituales de Fe” broadcast in Latin geographies
Calendar for Exim Bank, Taiwan
Today ( Germany)
Der Spiegel (Germany)
Thomas Cook Cruising( UK)

The Mint and Hindustan Times are among the newspaper media that carry his photographs.  There are numerous other books and international magazines, as well as a large number of sites in the electronic media that use his images as illustrations for such themes as color.

Anoop’s work is on two book covers for Penguin Publishers India, titled The Hungry Tide by Amitava Ghosh and The Solitude of  Emperors by David Davidar.

His awards include:

The Sony World Photography Awards 2007, which shortlisted the photograph “Racing with the Bulls“ for the Best Photograph in the Sports category.  Also shortlisted for Best Photographer Award (Amateur) for 2007 conducted by Sony World Photography Awards.

Following the 2007 award, Anoop stopped submitting photos for competitions.

For him, the ultimate crucible of photographic achievement is the outdoors.  “No,” he explains, “not the landscape genre.  It is the outdoor events like fairs, festivals and the life and times of the ordinary people that I love to capture.  Nothing is in control here, not the light, not the people.  It is the most challenging of photographic situations to be in.  For me that is it.”

For him, indoor photography where things can be controlled is not challenging enough.  He believes pretty pictures, sunsets, pets, flowers, and studio glamour are not his forte.  He feels he does take aesthetically beautiful photos sometimes, but most of his photos capture a moment or tell a story.

He is beginning to move into commercial wedding photography, making a base in Delhi to shoot “weddings with a difference“.

“I have no idea whether I have a personal style.  It is for others to say.  My methodology is fairly simple.  For me a story is more important, aesthetics come second.  So you will not find a large amount of stylized self-indulgent ‘hang on the wall’ kind of work from me.  Most is driven by ”the moment” – that definitive time space continuum which exists just once.”

He has studiously avoided being inspired by other photographers, either old or young.  He attributes that partly to a lack of time to really study what they offer and partly to the value he finds in doing what he wants to do the way he wants to do it.  “The setting of a visual milieu is what inspires me to shoot.”

Anoop currently uses a Nikon D300 and an older Nikon D70. He prefers a Nikon 18-70mm lens and a 50mm lens for most work, and occasionally uses a 12-24mm wide angle Tokina lens.

He plans to keep on shooting till he drops, travel to some destinations as it is affordable, and do some stunning wedding photography.

His advice for aspiring photographers: “Just get out there and shoot.  Observe and shoot.  Think and shoot and get to know the basics of art and photography.  Composition, aesthetics and knowledge will stand you in good stead rather than fancy gear.”

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

Theyyam dancer enacts the throes of anger in Kerala with his hard eyed steely gaze. This was shot live at a festival with a Nikon D70 camera.

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

A theyyam dancer who is all red. Shot up close to get the details and the paint work. One of the most popular illustrations world over for Theyyam portrayal. Camera Nikon D70.

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

Perhaps the toughest thing to shoot in the mad rush of people confined to a small space with the bulls charging straight at you. I think the other viewers had scattered for safety so one could shoot this before jumping out of harm's way. Camera Nikon D70

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

So here it is in all its glory the racing bulls splashing water, thundering hooves, riding with fierce elan and the ever present colorful mix of cheering onlookers at the Bull Racing event in Adoor, Kerala. Camera Nikon D70

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

Riding the Skies - This is in the backwaters of Kerala in Cochin when the water was like a mirror reflecting the clouds while an empty sand boat passed through the skies. Shot from directly above with no support from a bridge. Don't do this in real life. It is dangerous. Camera Nikon D70

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

This is the view of the Badami town from somewhere near the top of the red sandstone outcrop which houses the four famous caves. This is the advent of the monsoon. Camera Nikon D70

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

This is the Dal Lake at Kashmir and the famous landmark called Char chinar - This was shot because there were no scenic wonders that day. It was terrible lighting all the way in the Srinagar valley. Camera Nikon D300.

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

meherabad maharashtra -- This yellow wall with deeply recessed light funnel is located at a place near Ahmadnagar in Maharashtra. It was the home where Meher Baba spent his time. Camera Nikon D300.

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

The leader of the most acclaimed Yakshagana troupe - Portrait of Keremane Shivanand Hegde Getting Ready for Yakshagana. Camera Nikon D300.

Anoop Negi - ShutterMonks

Shaping the Yakshagana. Camera Nikon D300.

You can view his Portfolio at: Flickr500pxBehance.

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