Candid is the word that describes Ashok Dilwali visiting Chandigarh to deliver a lecture on landscape photography on the invitation of the Photographic Society of Chandigarh. Dilwali chips in with his on-the-spot sound bites.
“Photographers usually start by doing ‘rotigraphy’ for bread and butter, that is wedding photography and the like. I did so too for many years, but somewhere along the line passion for landscape photography started compensating for the travels I undertook, and so I started doing photography.”
When asked if he clicks a photograph for his own satisfaction or to justify a creative aesthetic, Dilwali doesn’t mince words. “The click is for my own plesure, because I savour the moment. Good photographs get accepted because people have the capacity to enjoy them as well,” he says.
Interestingly, Dilwali says taking selfies is a craze that people like to indulge in. “Selfies are a passing fad. There is nothing serious about it. Yes, people have empowered themselves with a camera because technology has made it possible. But there are two aspects to photography. A good camera can give anyone the craft, art can only come with passion, innovation and a quest for learning.”
Professionally, Dilwali was a chartered accountant and his father was a photographer. Dilwali still manages Kinsley Bros, the family’s photographic concern on portraiture and commercial photography in New Delhi. But it is not in the studio that he sought his passion. Way back in 1979, he undertook a trek to Sikkim. In 1982, he met French photographer Roland Michaud, who told Dilwali to visit and capture one area several times.
Dilwali chose Garhwal Himalayas as his first major landscape subject and brought out four coffee table books in four years, starting with ‘Garhwal Himalayas’ in 1987. “Late PN Mehra, a senior police officer, told me that trekking is a medicine with a date of expiry. Once I started, I never stopped exploring, trekking and capturing, making the most of my youth,” says Dilwali.
On photographers who influenced him profoundly, he says, “There are probably only two photographers who have influenced millions Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson.” What does it take to become a good photographer? Dilwali replies, “Experimentation and learning are the key factors coupled with unabated passion. Ansel Adams said the photograph should be able to transport the viewer to the scene. If a photograph conveys depth and perspective, it is good. You have to keep trying.”