Redefing Travel and Documentary Photography: Pravin Tamang
Nishanth | Feb 05, 2018
The second edition of Roots,witnessed one of India’s finest photographers who went by the belief that a good photograph should have a soul and story to tell. The man is none other than Pravin Tamang.
Mr Tamang who has made himself famous through his remarkable portraits and candid street shots had been in the institute to deliver a talk on The Art of Travel and Documentary Photography on the second day of the creative confluence at the Bhubaneswar Behera Auditorium.
The talk started off at 10:45 AM with Mr Tamang introducing himself, after which he moved on to describe his job and his passion for photography. Mr Tamang then went on to describe the basic rules and terms of photography. Subsequently, he proceeded to start a slideshow which comprised of some of his best shots. Being a globetrotter, Mr Tamang managed to enthral the audience by presenting some stunning images taken across the world. He continued the talk by explaining the story behind every photograph that he had taken along his various trips. The event concluded with a doubts session where the audience was encouraged to ask their questions.
After delivering the lecture, Team Monday Morning got in touch with Mr.Tamang to have a candid conversation with him. Following are some of the excerpts for the interview:
Monday Morning(MM): Tell us something about your childhood.
Pravin Tamang(PT): I was born and brought up in Darjeeling. I did my schooling and also spent my college days in the city. I studied in an All-Boys school and an All-Boys College until class 12. So, that is most probably the best life I have spent. Being a small town person, I got into adventure sports when I was in Darjeeling. I explored and did a little bit of travelling. So, that is how it all started for me (laughs).
MM: It is known that you started your career as a mountaineering instructor at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute of Darjeeling. Can you shed some light on your experience there?
PT: Himalayan Mountaineering Institute actually imparts on one of the best mountaineering crafts to the students. It is a well-known institute, which provides the basic amenities along with a museum, a library and an auditorium. The institute also gives oppurtunities to actually practice rock climbing through natural and artificial rock structures. There are courses that include taking one outdoors on adventures, there are mountaineering courses which happen in the mountains, there is a method of instruction course that teaches you different levels of mountaineering and mountain climbing.
MM: You then moved to Nepal to work as a freelance trek leader. What inspired you to do so?
PT: I think as soon as I finished working at the mountaineering institute, I needed to make money. So, I left for Nepal and started as an assistant guide. I started my trekking career as a higher mountain trek leader. I then worked as a freelancer for a few companies when I became properly familiar with the terrain. After Nepal, I came to India because I wanted a bigger space.
MM: What inspired you to take up the field of photography?
PT: Photography has always inspired me because I am a very visual person(grins). Beautiful images taken by great photographers have really inspired me a lot. I started off with a film camera at the beginning and then slowly advanced to a digital SLR and gradually I moved on to more sophisticated devices.
As I travelled, I wanted to record the events and the people assosciated with it. I used to think of memorising the events taking place but we all know that the memory fails for any human being at a lot of levels. So, I bought a camera and got into travel photography. In the middle, I almost left photography for about four years as I had to concentrate on my career rather than travelling and taking photographs. But then, I got into the travel industry and started practising photography more and more. This was the time after which, I started practising photography passionately.
MM: Describe your role at Peak DMC.
PT: At Peak DMC, I work in the capacity of a General Manager. It is a travel company which is a part of the Interprid travel group. Peak DMC is located all over the world and I actually take care of the business in India.
MM: Describe your fight towards gender equality in India.
PT: I had started a project on female tour leaders in India. I started this after observing that our country lacked a female capacity in tour leaders. We have a lot of females working in different sectors in a 9 to 5 job. I knew that there were enthusiastic females who were keen on travelling, like men do. So, I started a project in 2016 to hire more female tour leaders. We are aiming towards having a 50:50 ratio in female vs. male tour leaders in the coming two years.
MM: What do you think makes India every photographer’s dream?
PT: I think it is the culture, the people. Also, India is very hospitable and friendly on a lot of levels. The colours, tradition, the varied topography in terms of variations of landscapes, the way the people in different states and the variety of traditions; I think that is what makes India, a photographer’s dream.
MM: Name some of your favourite places for photography in India.
PT: THe natural scenics of Varanasi would be one of the best places I have photographed. The next one would be Orchha, Madhya Pradesh which is a small but a very beautiful town. I also like the south Indian coasts and the Himalayan belts.
MM: Any message for enthusiastic photographers?
Keep practising. Take a lot of photographs. Good photographs do not happen. Good photographs have a thought process behind it. Also, master your equipment like your camera and your lenses. But yeah, practice a lot!