It was in a local pub of Brighton in 2011 when a British friend of mine showed me his pictures as a part of one of our casual conversations. I couldn’t believe that a person without any professional training and with a full time job could click such beautiful pictures. That was the first time when a fire ignited within my heart. Although one could see many people on the streets with a DSLR: the tourists, the amateurs, the professionals and probably every Tom, Dick and Harry, I was still unsure to spend my hard-earned money on a camera. After pondering over it for a while, along with the uncontrollable urge, I decided to buy it. After the usual ‘Canon Vs Nikon’ fight, I decided to settle down with Canon 550D – a perfect camera for the beginners as they say. I distinctly remember the day I ordered my DSLR, as I spent a few sleepless nights in my small room in London after that. Knowing myself, I was not sure If I would actually be able to do justice to it. I feared it would be comfortably resting for years in a corner of my room. Thankfully I challenged myself and decided to make the best use of the money spent. As a kid, I was never introduced to photography as a hobby or a profession, for me it was just a way to capture the important moments of our family where we used to keep the count of every photo clicked out of 36. In fact I always complained about not having many pictures of my childhood and I guess it was destiny for it to be compensated with the thousands of pictures I would click now.
One of the first pictures taken by me
Okay I have a camera and now what? I bugged my friend British friend Steve quite a few times for technical details. Sitting in my room I used to practice taking multiple shots with different shutter-speed, aperture and ISO. I learnt the technical stuff gradually but was still hesitant to go out with the camera and click pictures. The question always remained: go out where and click what? I used to feel shy walking with a camera as it drew attention and of course I could never gather the courage to point it at people. I tried a few landscapes on the beach and the pictures were pretty lame, not anything like what Steve used to click. The time passed by and the camera was almost mostly unused except clicking a few pictures of family and friends and some usual vacation pics portraying a bit of romance. The guilt of not doing justice to my ambition kept cropping up in my mind and then I encountered a fashion photographer in Delhi through a friend who wanted to start wedding photography business as well and I joined his team for capturing a friend’s wedding. It was fun and the pictures were a little above average. Though I didn’t even like carrying the camera in my friend’s wedding all the time as I missed on drinks, dance and food. However, It was then that I decided to create a photography page on Facebook DeeptiAsthanaPhotography which is now called 'Deepti Asthana Travelography' with a lot of hesitation and embarrassment just to see where it goes and decided not to categorize my Photography in any particular genre and clicked whatever came my way.
The faces of Khasi tribe, Meghalaya
My fate changed and I shifted to Mumbai where traveling is much more convenient and safer than Delhi and there I embarked on my journey of Travel Photography. There was whole lot of stuff to learn about traveling as well. We as a family didn’t travel for leisure or holidaying much, it was always about going to next big city and spending summer vacation at my Aunt’s place. This could be the reason that my family is still trying to understand what I am up to. During the college days there were few budget trips to explore the Southern India but it was simply for fun, not anything more than that. But now being in Mumbai, I got ample of opportunities and can actually live my connection with nature to the fullest. Camera became an integral part of my life and I started taking my travel a bit seriously. I wasn’t the same person who used to forget the camera batteries or SD cards etc. every now and then. I started researching about the place, people and the photo opportunity I might get. While I was not traveling, I used to experiment with self-portraits and I found myself to be much more beautiful than ever.
Fly as far as you can, as high as you can
When I turned the camera towards nature, I found a new perspective of the world. I gradually adapted an eye for the small details which I usually missed to notice. I continued practicing and I still keep making plans every now and then, with a traveler’s group or otherwise. In a year, my life started to revolve around my travels and I loved to go in the cycle of- plan, travel, click and repeat. Photography has taken me to places where I had never imagined I would, from the temples of Cambodia, to the mosques of Malaysia; from capturing wildlife in the rainforests of Karnataka to the treks of Western Ghats; from the last inhabited village of Himalayas to the crowded Ghats of Varanasi, from watching Snake Boast race in Aranmula to Visiting the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, from capturing sunset at London Bridge to tasting wine at Eiffel Tower. Every time, I became a better travel planner and a better photographer. I loved the new me and the hidden traveler in me was finally able to realize the dreams which were too difficult to dare for me. I focused on building my own website for the travel blogs I wrote. I learnt the art of understanding the difference between a good photo and a bad photo. And now I share only those which I genuinely found worth sharing .
Villages, the soul of India
After a while, I understood I need more freedom while I travel. I wanted to know more about the people where I travel to, I need to know their stories and tell those stories through my pictures. I wanted to spend more time at a place if I liked to, I wanted to move on fast if things didn’t interest me, I wanted to spend some lonely time with mountains, rivers, waterfalls, trees and I found such freedom when I started traveling solo. One after another destination, it became as smooth as cream, I could reach faraway places and make friends in every corner of my country. I traveled to Cambodia solo and made a well planned trip, and later I challenged myself after exploring Meghalaya, Nagaland and Assam on my own which has been the best trip so far. After these trips, probably for the first time I was so sure about something that I wanted to do, Travel Photography or ‘Travelography’ as I call it.
Being with myself, is the time I enjoy most
I found passion and happiness in it. I love working on field as well on computer. I can sit for hours and hours and work on my laptop editing, reading, planning and checking the pictures which is actually so not me. I am a restless person and focusing on one thing is very difficult unless it is super interesting. I could travel in unknown paths and enjoy the long uncomfortable bus journeys, travel taught me patience. Climbing the ladders slowly at my own pace, I started to receive good feedback from friends. I started to put my work for a few exhibitions and contest and so far, it is all going positive. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I would say Travel Photography has made me a better person, a more aware human being, a story teller and a confident solo traveler. Camera didn’t get me lot of fame or money but it brought a purpose and happiness to my life, which cannot be bought by mundane experiences. I was again the same child who used to be competitive, ambitious and passionate, who used to strive always for the first position in class. I am happy to find that girl again which became so dull over the years. I don’t think about what’s going to happen in future, all I focus is on my next Travel, live it to the fullest and get the best pictures to the best of my abilities.
Peeping into souls of Mountain dwellers, Himachal
This picture got me prestigious International Youth Photography award by UNESCO
Well, that was my story! what is yours? :) If you like my work, you may see more on datravelography.com