I interview photographer Kamal Chilaka who has recently published a coffee table book on images from Lapland.
- What was the inspiration behind your limited-edition coffee table book, -29 ˚ Celcius?
Photography coffee table books by the likes of Steve McCurry, Sebastiao Salgado , Jimmy Nelson and also collections such as The Hasselblad Master series have been a big inspiration and influence on developing my photographic vision. When I was readying my works for the Exhibit “-29 ˚ Celcius” I realised I had a collection of images worthy of a quality coffee table book.
2. What drew you to photography and how long have you been a professional photographer? Could you tell us about your journey as a photographer?
I have enjoyed photography as a hobby even since the days of film photography. After a few years of doing it part time and doing a few exhibits of my work while pursuing my other career I decided that I wanted to get into photography in a more serious way and in the year 2014 I started Eyemage as a platform to showcase both my own work and also the works of other Photographers
3. Why did you choose Lapland and how did you get there? What do you think draws people to Lapland?
Over the years I have travelled to and shot in several locations both in India and overseas during the seasons of spring, autumn and summer. I had stayed away from winter photography due to the fear of difficult travel logistics and of the difficult photography conditions. When I was going through my portfolio of images on my computer, I realised I had very few winter images. I decided it was time to widen the scope of my work and started researching locations for winter photography. There were a number of options, but I decided to go all the way and chose Finnish Lapland as it has one of the coldest winters but also has some fantastic scenery during winter and there was also the possibility of viewing the northern lights.
4. Tell us about your accommodation in Lapland.
I chose very safe and comfortable hotel options at Rovaniemi and Saariselka as there were already many challenges to overcome in terms of the low temperatures and travelling via public transport primarily . I wanted to be able to come back to a good warm room with proper food options and all the amenities to stay connected during the trip
5. What has the experience of travelling to Lapland and capturing the snowy scenes out there taught you?
The major lesson learnt was that in both life and in photography, it pays to get out of your comfort zone from time to time. Through new experiences, new learnings and new actions we can enrich our life. So, take a few risks
6. Apart from photography, what captured your interest in Lapland?
I loved everything about Lapland: the native Sami people who have adapted to live in these extreme conditions and how everything still works so efficiently in spite of the cold weather. I want to go back and shoot some more during the other seasons
7. Tell us about some of the other places you have travelled to?
I have travelled to over 60 locations in 20 countries for my photography, and I still have so much more of the world to see and photograph
8. How was your experience of bringing out this coffee table edition? What have you learned during the process?
Passion projects such as publishing a book take time and effort to do well. You need to have a good publisher who understands your vision and a good print partner who can print to a good level of quality. Right from planning to selecting the images and editing the book and numerous sample prints till you get it right it takes time and patience and you can’t really rush it
9. How many cameras and lenses did you take with you on your journey to Lapland?
I had carried with me two Canon DSLRs and 4-5 lenses and accessories for this trip. I have now moved on to shooting with Leica now
10. What advice would you share for someone venturing into photography?
Photography is a wide field with numerous specialisations to choose from. More and more the trend seems to be moving to video now for storytelling, but there is still scope for specialist photographers and specially those who can shoot both still and video images. Everyone is a photographer these days with their mobile phone cameras. To get to the next level, you should develop your vision and technical abilities to be competitive.