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Zulfikhar Ahmed – The World Through His Lens

Artist Feature Inspiration Photography

Zulfikhar Ahmed – The World Through His Lens

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Zulfikhar Ahmed is an award-winning travel, cityscape, and lifestyle photographer based out of Chennai.

As a journalistic style photographer, he tells stories through his images. He aims to capture the beauty of those glimpses and moments that would typically be overlooked by the human eye, he says.

Zulfikhar has bagged many accolades and has been featured in eminent platforms such as Natgeo, Adobe, and Lightroom, to name a few. (check out his work here.) Interacting with him was humbling as well as insightful, and I am excited to be able to share this inspiring conversation with you all.

Read on… I’m in bold, Zulfi is in regular.

First and foremost, how did you discover your passion for photography?

From my early days in school, I was fascinated with gadgets and cameras. When I got my first Samsung Film Camera, you would find me running around, documenting every moment with my friends outside school, at home with family, and at college trips. This fun hobby turned into a strong passion when I moved to Dubai and purchased my very own DSLR. I had the opportunity to shoot for a Christmas event that lasted three days, and then there was no looking back. Since then, I have shot several events, including concerts, fashion shows, parties, corporate functions, and more.

Who were some of your early influences?

I had a friend in college who gave up his job as an HR and went on to follow his dream of becoming a wedding photographer. He had a significant influence on my life, along with some fellow photographers that I worked with back in Dubai.

You were featured in Adobe and Lightroom recently. How do you feel? Tell us a little bit about the photos that were featured.

I feel honoured and humbled by this feature in Adobe Lightroom 2019 book in the USA. I use Lightroom extensively to catalog and edit my photos. It is extremely helpful to sort out and retrieve images at any time. Five travel images from – Holi, Pushkar (2), Ladakh, & Varanasi were selected for the spotlight section, and all were edited using Lightroom.

 

Ladakh, Kargil – Featured at Somerset museum in London in 2018 as the most commended photo in the portraiture category (120k entries from 210 countries)

 

The images that were taken at Varanasi, Pushkar, and Holi, were selected for their vibrant, raw, and soulful aura.

 

What do you love most about your job?

Photography has been my gateway to travel. It has allowed me to explore remote parts of the world, and to experience different cultures, people, and spaces. I also get exclusive access to certain areas sometimes and that, I totally love. (laughs)

Having said that, which is your favourite destination to shoot so far?

Every place is unique in its own way. It is difficult to pick a favourite, but quite a few are very close to my heart – Chandubi Lake, Sangla Valley, Ponmudi Hilltop, Taj Mahal, Rohtang Pass, Jogini Falls, Chang La are among them.

Camel Fair, Pushkar

 

Taj Mahal, Agra

What are some of the challenges that you face?

Working as a freelance photographer can be challenging in terms of stability. There is no set number of assignments, and schedules constantly vary. We tend to work under pressure due to time-sensitive projects and delays in payment can occur too.

So, what would your advice be to someone starting out as a photographer, in this day and age?

You must get familiar with the rules and use it to your advantage, to be able to break them when needed. It might take a while, but find your niche and then give your 100% to excel in it. Equip yourself with the right gear and consistently work on your skillset. It is also advisable to have a secondary source of income.

What according to you makes a good photograph?

Appropriate lighting, a well-composed subject, leveled horizon, and sharp focus – all these elements add up to make a good photograph. It is also essential to have the right amount of components within your frame and capture the moment in its full glory.

Lastly, could you share some lessons and truths that you learned over the years through photography and traveling?

When I travel to remote places in India, especially to the Himalayas, I experience a stress-free and relaxed state of mind. The people living there are warm and welcoming, utterly content with their simple lifestyle. The vastness of the mountains humble me, and being right in its lap is exhilarating. I was once out of network coverage for many days, and when I returned back to my city, I realised that I hadn’t missed out on anything apart from my family. Travel and photography have taught me to connect with nature and people, to live life and allow it to rejuvenate my soul.

 

Well, I hope this interview was as impressive and informative for all you fellow photographers as it was for me. It is a reminder of how that soothing click can capture a multitude of emotions, both on camera and behind it!