She has been rightly credited with bringing cheer to many a soul with her shooting skills. And she sheepishly acknowledges her photography beginnings to “poor memory” which made her carry a camera where ever she goes! She is the beautiful Neeta Shankar, a young photographer whose passion is framing and freezing moments.
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Official Photographer for “Tour of Nilgiris 2010”.
Her short film U-turn was ranked as one of the top 6 films at International Short Film Festival, Bhubaneshwar.
Official photographer for Celebration Run – Mysore Marathon.
Q. How did you get into photography? Was it a natural progression from your travels?
A. Yes. It was a natural outcome of traveling. I love traveling and been doing it quite extensively since I started working at HP. I used to trek quite frequently too. On all these trips and treks, I carried an old point and shoot camera (belonging to my brother) to capture some memories. My photographs were most often appreciated by my fellow travelers and I developed an interest in the art and science of photography. I started reading more about it online and put the concepts I learnt to practice. The more I learnt, the more I loved it.
Q. What does your gear consist of ?
Body – I still have an entry level DSLR Canon 500D and I am quite happy with it.
Lens – I use the following lenses – Canon 10-22mm f3.5-4.5, Canon 50mm f1.8, Canon 100mm f2.8 macro, Canon 24-70 f2.8, Canon 70-200 f2.8, Canon 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 (Some of them I own, some I borrow on rent for my shoots).
Filter – I have UV filters for all my lenses and Circular Polarizer for my wide angle lens.
Tripod – I don’t own a tripod yet. I usually rent it out.
Backpack – I have a Lowepro Pro Runner A350 which allows me to comfortably fit in all the gear I use and my laptop. But I cannot really say that I can comfortably carry it around :). I also own a Lowepro Mini Trekker.
Flashes – I use 2 speedlites Canon 580 ex ii with wireless triggers for triggering them.
Q. Which is your favorite lens? Why?
A. 50mm f1.8 lens because it is inexpensive, fast and sharp. Also because it is lightweight and easy to carry. Because of its small size, it doesn’t draw much attention to it. I also like the 70-200mm f2.8 lens which I rent out time to time. But it weighs a lot and carrying it around mounted on the camera is a pain.
Q. When you go for one of your travels, what all will you take with you?
A. I tend to overpack and carry most of my gear along as you never know what kind of photo opportunities will present themselves during travel. I carry my camera with 3 or 4 lenses and their filters, external flash, my laptop and external harddisk, protective rain cover for my camera bag, spare batteries and chargers, lots of spare cards. A small sling camera bag to carry the camera easily.
Q. Among the gadgets that you own, is there anything that you regret buying? If yes, can you mention why?
A. Wireless triggers. I should have probably saved up for a good expensive set. Mostly because the cheap triggers don’t work all the time. Out of every ten fires, one may work. They have a limited range and a weak success rate.
Q. How do you post process your shots?
A. I generally use Photoshop CS5 and sometimes Lightroom. I play with color tones depending on the mood that I want to portray in my image.
Q. I see that the models in your photos are at their natural best (except him, maybe). How do you build the rapport with your subject?
A. I smile at them!
A smile is the best way to communicate.
Especially kids warm up to me very easily.
Q. When you are on a photo session, what leads you – your instincts or the model?
A. Mostly my instincts but it is very essential for the models to be comfortable with the poses too. Otherwise it may appear unnatural. Sometimes its a team effort where the models have their own ideas. I generally start with their ideas and then go by my instincts.
Q. Does photographer’s block happen to you? If yes, how do you overcome it?
A. Sometimes, Yes. I travel to get my creativity going. Also I discuss photography with my peers. This year I have also taken up 366 project to keep myself motivated every single day of the year. You can find the shots on my facebook page.
Q. How do you educate yourself to take better shots?
A. Read. Read. Read. There’s a wealth of information online and numerous blogs explaining the technical aspects as well as the rules of composition.
The most important thing however is to practice what you have learnt.
Q. Where should a newbie start, according to you, if he/she is interested in pursuing portraiture ?
A. Start off with a 50mm f1.8 lens which is not an expensive buy. Learn about the rules of composition and the use of light. You can look at some beautiful portraiture in 1x.com or flickr for inspiration.
Q. Who or what is a nightmare when you are on an assignment?
A. My biggest nightmare is camera break-down amidst a shoot. Once this nightmare did indeed come true. My camera shutter broke while I was shooting a wedding and luckily I had a second shooter with me that day whose camera I could borrow and another photographer friend of mine brought me his camera in less than half an hour!
Q. What is the one thing that you wish you knew when you started photographing ?
A. Self learning has its benefits. Trial and error is time consuming but since we learn from our mistakes, it is more effective in the long run.
I wish I knew how important it is to keep your images organized. I have thousands of images from my early shoots just lying in a hard disk and not really in an organized structure which has made it hard to find the ones I want.