Social researcher, reader, photographer and an amateur poet, Amitabh Baghel has an interesting family history of attacks and war that perhaps defined for his ancestors, a story different from the expected. Originally from Rewa, an erstwhile princely state in today’s Madhya Pradesh. They moved north to the State of Majhauli Raj in 1704-1705. Constant attacks on Majhauli Raj from neighboring states caused the permanence of this move.
Amitabh, however, is a romantic at heart, far from his warrior background! Passionately in love with the hills of Kumaun, he lives in Nainital and perhaps derives a natural inspiration from the beautiful Himalayas for his photography. His oft composed photographs feature birds, landscapes and monuments.
For those who appreciate the allure of the natural world or the mysterious romance of historical ruins, his passionate photographs in aesthetically creative compositions are a treat. They show a rare & pleasing combination of art & science in photography that appeals to one’s mind while equally touching the soul. His sunsets create an intense longing while the birds and butterflies on his palms fill the heart with affection. His monuments have beautiful insights and perspectives that show off his technique along with the incurable romantic artist in him. With every frame, he truly captures the moment in time or history and freezes it for posterity.
Urdu poetry has been a natural enhancer of the artist in him, and his love for Lucknow and the poetic mysteries of its monuments are very evident in his very musical captures. He is an ardent reader of poetry as well as prose, and has lately dabbled in writing poetry as well.
In Conversation with Amitabh Baghel
Q1. What appeals to you about photography? When did you realize that you are going to take it up as a profession?
It all began with an appreciation of nature in its splendorous beauty . It created an urge within me to capture a moment forever. It follows that my first subjects were landscapes and thence the details that they offer. Every bit of nature is beautiful as is very monument that speaks silently of the very real history that it has witnessed.
Q2. Do you have any formal training?
No, the field has been my teacher. I have learnt through trial & error, and still am in the process of perfecting my art. However I enjoy it immensely and positive appreciation of my pictures has given me endless joy. It is an opportunity to spread the happiness of the moment beyond myself.
Q3. What kind of equipment do you enjoy/prefer using?
I use Canon bodies. Lenses: 100-400mm L (for birds and wildlife), 10-22mm (for landscapes and monuments), 50mm (for portraits &street photos).
Q4. Is there a specific favorite place that you love capturing?
There is a place in Nainital from where one can experience the most amazing sunsets. It’s more by default really, as this place lures me. But I’ve just begun my journey and I hope I have many special places to capture in the future with some luck and encouragement. If I had to rank subjects, they would be in this order: Birds, Butterflies, Monuments & Landscapes.
Q5. How did poetry come about?
Poetry is inherent to life itself; its about how one realises it! My appreciation of poetry came from my readings and musings. My own poetry is amateur yet, and mostly extempore. It is an expression of a moment or a feeling that fills my heart or creates a yearning, or empathizes with an issue. Like, for example, last November I was in a conference at IHC, New Delhi where I had to present a paper on Women & Cinema. I penned these lines as I was waiting for my turn:
ताउम्र ढूँढती रही वो मंज़िलों को
अभी और गुज़रना है गर्द-ए-राह से उसको
Q6. Do you have any favorite poets? If yes, does it influence your way of writing?
Ghalib and Sahir Ludhianvi are my favorites. I relate to their poetry very naturally.