How Photography Changed My Life: Swapneel Sathe , Tax Consultant, Pune.

An introduction about who you are, what you do for a living and how you got into photography. 

Hello friends, I am Swapneel Sathe, a Tax Consultant by profession. I stay in Pune with my wife, two kids and my father. My other hobbies are – drawing, painting, listening to music, writing articles on music, writing poetry, translation work regarding Bangla language, etc. Since school days, I was very curious about cameras and photography.  In those days (1980s), having our own camera was a big thing. SLR cameras were not at all affordable. It was the era of film rolls.

How was your first experience with your camera?

The first camera that my parents bought for us was a point and shoot (Premier make) camera. Me and my siblings used it for several years during college picnics, family functions, etc. It was a basic point and shoot camera with almost no settings.

At that time, my uncle was a professional photographer in Mumbai. Earlier he had worked as a cinematographer in the hindi film Industry. Then he turned to industrial photography and currently he is engaged in videography of various medical surgeries. During summer vacations we used to visit his place. There I came across various camera models used by him. I don’t remember the exact details of those models. But my uncle was of a very friendly nature and used to show us how to operate various cameras. There, I have also witnessed various photography techniques and processes such as developing the negative in a dark room, printing the photos and mounting the same in the album. Most of the photographs in that time were B/W.

After completion of graduation (B.Sc.) in 1993, I went to Mumbai for doing three weeks apprenticeship under his guidance. There I received training in industrial photography which included taking photos of various products, plants, shop floors; mainly in chemical and pharmaceutical industries. These photos were later on used by the company for advertisements, brochures, etc. There were also contracts for making slides. A special kind of film roll was used for slides which after processing gives a ‘Positive’ as the final output (instead of a negative in usual film rolls). This positive (that is the slide) is then mounted in a paper frame for use in the slide projector. Those three weeks were like a dream and still hold great value for me.

After coming back to Pune, I wanted to start with my own studio set-up. But, due to some unavoidable circumstances I had to suppress my aspirations and join our family business as a ‘Tax Consultant’.

Few years later (about 1998), again my hopes were raised when my younger brother bought a Canon SLR (film) camera from USA. I enjoyed photography with a SLR at different locations like Mumbai, Kolkata and Agra. But in just few years the digital Era started and the film cameras became obsolete.

By this time, I was well settled in my profession and was in a position to afford my own camera. So, I bought my first digital (point and shoot) camera Finepix S1500 from Fuji Film and then two years later, Canon Powershot SX60HS.

What were the things you did to get better at photography?

I was really enjoying shooting using a digital camera. That time I used to take shots on ‘Áuto’ mode only. Everybody used to appreciate my shots. But, still I felt something incomplete in my photography.

About two decades had already passed for my apprenticeship with my uncle. In this period, the photography had undergone drastic technological changes. So, in the changing scenario I felt it necessary to search for a proper ‘Guru’ to refresh my knowledge. There I came across an advertisement by our mentor Kush Sharma from Creative Pad Photography. After completing the basic photography course (in May 2016), the need for DSLR emerged strongly in my mind. Finally, in August 2016 I purchased my own DSLR – Canon 700D with a double lens kit containing 18-55 & 55-250 mm lenses. Coincidentally, I received the DSLR from Amazon on 19th August – The World Photography Day 😊

With a DSLR in hand, my photography really picked up great pace and in last one and half year I have enjoyed clicking at least 7000 shots.

Your favorite shot of yours up till now and its details

Here is my favorite shot till today, taken last month (December 2017), near Gateway of India, Mumbai. It is the shot of a seagull which had just landed on the sea shore and its wings were still open. The image EXIF data is as under:

f/5.6, 142 mm, 1/1000 second, ISO-200

The shot is taken in both JPEG and Raw format. The image attached here with is the original Raw image converted to JPEG after some editing work.

This was my first experience with raw images. Right now, I am using Photoshop CS6 for editing the pictures. But, I came to know that it is not compatible for editing raw images and it is also not getting upgraded.  While searching for the solution on the net, I found that there is a software called ‘Digital Photo Professional’ by Canon; which is specially meant for editing raw images. Then suddenly I remembered that, I have received a CD of various software along with my DSLR. From the said CD I installed DPP on my laptop and the big question is now resolved.

What is your favourite type of photography?

As a photographer (and also an artist), Portrait Photography and Portrait Drawing are my favorite topics. I just lovewatching different personalities with different moods and catching them via the lens of my camera. In my opinion, beauty lies in each and every face, irrespective of gender, age and complexion. The only thing that you need is the right perspective and timing to capture it. In the last one and half year I have captured a number of personalities from various age groups.

Attached here, two of my favorite portrait shots. Details of these images are as under:

Image2: f/1.8, 50 mm prime lens, 1/125 second, ISO-100

Image3: f/5.0, 131 mm, 1/125 seconds, ISO-6400

What is the equipment that you use?

To implement this hobby-cum-profession I use the following equipment:

Earlier I only had a double lens kit (18-55 & 55-250 mm). While doing event photo shoots like wedding, etc, I found that it is not convenient to carry and keep on changing two lenses from time to time. Hence, few months ago I purchased the Tamron make 18-270 mm lens. I found this lens very useful due to its long range. It can be used for wide angle (Group Photos) as well as for individual portraits.

What are your future aspirations in terms of photography?

With the ever growing confidence that I received in the last year or so, now I am trying to step up into the field of professional photography. Since I am a self-employed person, I can definitely spare (or adjust) some time for this. (But, of course, right now I have no intention to give up my profession as a Tax Consultant 😊).

I have already opened my own Facebook page under the banner “ÇhitraNeel Creations” Some of you might have visited the same. In the year 2017, I have successfully completed some 7 to 8 assignments covering various events like engagement, wedding, get-togethers, family functions, sports events, etc.

I know, some defects, deficiencies are still there in my work. But photography is a continuous learning process and every time I am trying to improve myself. In the coming future, I would like to get mastery over Photoshop. Also, I am planning to take a more professional approach by adding a few more accessories such as reflectors, filters, etc. to my arsenal.

I still don’t have a tripod of a professional quality. The one which I have is of ordinary quality and purchased long back. One should not ignore the safety measures in photography. Because, the equipment that we carry is precious. Currently I am using the camera bag provided by Canon. But, with the increasing number of lenses and other accessories I have to go for a new bag which will take care of all the equipment.

Other shots that you would like to show

As a photographer, I personally don’t like to restrict myself to a particular category only. At least in the initial stages one should try and enjoy all kinds of photography. Though portrait photography is my favorite subject, I have tried some other categories (like landscape, nature photography, etc.) also. Here I would like to share three such images pertaining to nature, landscape and kids’ photography. The details of each image are as under:

Image4: Nature Photography – f/5.6, 250 mm, 1/200 seconds, ISO-800 (The shot is taken at Hanging Garden, Mumbai)

Image5: Landscape photography – f/11, 18 mm, 1/80 seconds, ISO-125 (The shot is taken at Jain Temple, Ahmedabad)

Image6: Kids’ Photography – f/1.8, 50 mm, 1/160 seconds, ISO-125 (The original shot was in colour. I have changed the same to B/W)

How has photography changed your life?

As a hobby-cum-profession, photography has given me not only immense pleasure but has also helped in building some beautiful and divine relations, that I could have never imagined. Before I conclude, I would like to share one such touching story of mine with you. This is an extract from one of the articles written by me.

Divine Relation – A Must Read Story:  

Brother & Sister – perhaps the most beautiful relation in the world. In case of siblings and cousins, there exists natural love and affection and bonding between them is quite obvious. But, sometimes this bonding goes beyond the blood relation, caste, religion and language to connect two souls from the different parts of the globe; as if they are real siblings. How does it happens? Only destiny can answer. But, such Bro-Sis relations are really divine and more pleasant. Today, I am going to tell you one such (real life) story. If you love your brother/sister then you must read it  🙂

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HE is a Marathi guy and an upcoming photographer. SHE is a Punjabi girl married to a Bengali gentleman and staying in a distant country. HE & SHE introduced to each other on a social media group and become good friends. Music is the common connection between them. Few months later, they personally meet each other in one of the musical event. As a photographer, HE is highly impressed with her photogenic but humble and decent personality and took so many snaps of her. Soon SHE becomes an inspiration for his photographic work.

The event is over and they both proceed to their respective home cities. After editing and finishing work, HE posted whole of his photographic stuff on their social media group. All the photos, especially of HER’s, received a huge admiration from all.

Then one fine morning, while looking at her snaps, HE realizes that …………… the magic lenses have discovered a pretty young SISTER for him. Being so delighted, HE shares his feelings with her. SHE is too, happy with the finding of the lenses.

Now, HE loves to call her by adding ‘di’ to her name – a typical Bengali term which represents – a mark of love and respect.

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10 replies
  1. Arvind Sitapure
    Arvind Sitapure says:

    Dear Swapneel, it’s really nice to read your wonderful journey you have narrated in very splendid language. I can say if there is will there is way. All the best for future endeavors….. Arvind Sitapure.

  2. Manek Premchand
    Manek Premchand says:

    This is a beautiful narrative Swapneel. I am so impressed with the passion that you possess, and on such wide fronts! Your passion for music, and for photography –beautifully encapsulated here–and for trains, which I learnt through your presentation only a month ago! How do you indulge in so many things, besides your work and family? Take a bow my friend 🙂

  3. Kushal Gore
    Kushal Gore says:

    Dear Swapneel dada,

    What an elegant writeup !!

    Interesting & inspirational journey of your another delightful hobby.

    Wish you all the best for many more accomplishments ..

  4. Minnu
    Minnu says:

    Your journey has been one of discovery and commitment.
    Very inspiring.
    More power to all your passions.
    Minnu

  5. Roma Wani
    Roma Wani says:

    Dear Swapneel,

    Any activity performed with the craving of the heart becomes a driving force and your journey in photography is an iconic example.

    Wishing you the best results in all future projects.

    Stay happy.
    Roma Wani

  6. Sridevi Gore
    Sridevi Gore says:

    Dear Swapneel dada,
    Very nicely written. Glad to know your journey with photography
    Wish you all the best for your future endeavors ☺️

  7. Arun Deshpande
    Arun Deshpande says:

    Very nice article & the photographs too.Swapneel is a great artist and it really befits his artistic capacity.
    I wish him All the BEST

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