Adjusting The Lens: Shifting Paradigms

April 21, 2014 , by Pragya Thapaliya, Leave your thoughts
Adjusting The Lens: Shifting Paradigms » My Dreams Mag

Creative artists from Nepal have been widening their horizon, sharpening their skills and in the years to come will be ready for the commercially feasible fields of photography. DREAMS talks to a few photographers from eclectic fields—toy photography, landscape and people photography, image manipulation—to find out what interests them, what keeps them going, and what their challenges are. The picture they present together is of a vibrant sector that that is buzzing with creativity and promise.


A photograph is so much more than a still picture. It is a buried treasure when opened after a decade, taking you back to your older life. It’s a time travelling machine that excavates the memories of a past hiding away in some deserted area. A photograph shares tales– of your little baby shoes, the birthdays you celebrated, the day when you promised to be a part of someone else’s life. But photography has been changing, and has become much more than a medium of capturing private moments.

Until a decade ago, apart from a few professionals, there were few people in Nepal with high interest in photography. But post the digital camera revolution, everyone and everything has become a subject for photography, whether it is a lone tree standing amidst a concrete jungle, an old woman running her nanglo business, the wilderness, or even truck literature. New generations are introducing fresh and creative ideas and are trying to explore and extend roads untravelled by the Nepali Photographic community.

DREAMS talked to some very promising new age photographers who are trying to break the traditional notions of photography and are working on a wide array of themes, from fine art and conceptual to toy photography. 

THE TOY STORY – Tenzing Samdup 



Gone are the days when toys were limited to playthings. Today you can combine the action figurines and miniatures you own with your camera, and buckle in for a sweet trip to the toy land. Tenzing Samdup, one of the very few toy collectors and possibly the only toy photographer in Nepal, shares the story of his very own toy town where reside the mighty Hulk, his misunderstood zombie, and Danbo. 


1. What provoked the thought of photography? How long have you been a photographer?

My grandfather was an amateur photographer and he had this old Nikon which I used to mess around with. My family also got me a Minolta on my 16th birthday, and I loved taking photos with it. As a kid I especially loved clicking landscapes and trying to stick them together.

Unfortunately I lost interest along the way. But I got into action figure collecting during my university days in Singapore. It was then that I realized that I wanted to take photos of my figures, and after much deliberation, I finally bought a Nikon D3000. So I bought my first DSLR in 2009 but I wasn’t very good at it and again I lost interest.

It was only one year after returning to Nepal in 2011 that I started clicking photos again. This time I had a friend who also had a DSLR and I also joined the photowalk group (this is a bunch of both amateur and experienced photographers who meet up every Saturday and visit locations around Kathmandu to take photos).

Since then, I have learned a lot more about photography and have been able to practice a lot. There are so many things that I still do not know, but hopefully I can do some awesome things in the future!


2. Why did you choose this particular field of photography? What is it that captivates you about figures and miniatures?

It’s simple really: this is just me combining my two passions in life, action figures and photography. It also doesn’t hurt that no one else in Nepal is doing this!

I also want to photograph toys because 1. I can’t afford to hire models, and 2. I have so many of them. It’s also really fun posing them and making them come to life… but basically I’m just a big geek 

unpacking my iphone-5


3. Do you have a toy photographer that inspires you?

There are a lot of great toy photographers, but my favourite is the guy at theonecam.com – his shots are amazing and will surprise you if you haven’t seen such photos before. I’ve messaged him on Facebook before to get tips and to plug my own site.


4. In a lot of your work, the toys seem to have human emotions. How hard is to bridge this threshold between the human and the non human?

For me a good photo is one that makes the viewer feel something, be it wonder, awe, sadness, joy, dread, humour, etc., and I always try to do this in my photography.

With toys this can be a bit challenging, but this is also the fun part! Sometimes whatever I plan doesn’t work, but other times I do get an on-the-spot inspiration, so it’s 50-50 probably.


5. Is there a particular toy that you would love to add to your collection?

There’s a company called Hot Toys based out of Hong Kong which makes 1/6 scale toys (i.e. if it was 6 feet in real life, the toy would be 1 foot tall) and now even ¼ scale toys! These are definitely not toys though, since they cost USD $200 and more. But for that amount you get hand painted, beautiful sculpts and tons of accessories.

As a collector it’s always been my dream to be able to buy these, but right now they are too expensive for me (the shipping cost itself would be astronomical!).

I actually had a Hot Toys Iron Man figure from the first movie but I had to sell it since I needed the money then.

Danbo - Tenzing Samdup


6. Where do you see this genre of photography in Nepal 5 years down the line? Any advice to those who are interested to pursue this field?

Well, due to the lack of availability of action figures in the local market (I mean the original stuff, not the cheap Chinese bootleg “toys”), expensive shipping cost and lack of online payment methods, I would say that it’s pretty difficult to get into this genre.

The only two solutions are to either get someone to bring toys from overseas or use a service like Harilo. But even these have disadvantages–if someone else brings it for you then there’s no way to double check the item or quality (these toys are mass-produced and not all are well made) and shipping with Harilo is NOT cheap (trust me, I know).

In any case, just like with any genre of photography you need to do a lot of practice and planning to get good photos. But here it also helps to have knowledge of the actual characters (for e.g. did you know that the Hulk was originally grey?).

You can view more of Tenzing’s works at www.tenzingsamdup.com

hulk takes a break-6


ESCAPE TO THE LANDSCAPES – Prakash Bajracharya 

Prakash BajracharyaPrakash Bajracharya, the owner of a software company Digital Monk, is a landscape photographer. A traveller with a flair for storytelling through his camera, Prakash has been enhancing the photography scenario with heavenly images caught during his travels.

1. What actuated the thought of photography? How long have you been a photographer? 

Since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in gadgets in general. Back then a camera was just another gadget along with MP3 players and video game consoles. In 2007, however, I wanted a better camera to try out DOF (Depth of Field). I think it was this curiosity that got me into taking more and more photos. Over the years, I got more passionate and started doing photography as a serious hobby. Eight years later, I’m still hooked! 


2. Why did you choose this particular field of photography?

I have tried all sorts of photography, from macros to night sky photos. And it’s still an ongoing experiment. The genres keep changing. But something that has really stuck with me is landscape photography. Me and my wife have visited 12 countries in the past years. So it’s great to bring back photos that show the essence of different places. I like to make photos that make people go “Oh, I want to go to that place!” That can be done with portraits or street photography too, but for me landscape works. 


3. Is there a particular photographer that inspires you? 

From National Geographic photographers to various Nepalese photographers, I get inspired by photographers who are driven by passion. There are many but if I had to pick one, it would be Russian photographer Anton Janvoy. His night sky photos (from Nepal) are legendary and he goes to all lengths to get the shots. His photos have been featured in countless articles/magazines around the globe, and even Apple (yes apple.com) has purchased his photos.



4. What are the challenges in this aspect of photography? 

Landscape photography is quite straightforward. You just grab a wide enough lens, point at an area of interest and click. That will make a good photo. But if you want to get a great photo, you have to be patient, you have to do prior research on the place and find out everything you can. Sometimes it’s about luck, but what I find most challenging is working out an interesting composition under any lighting condition. 


5. Do you plan to take this hobby ahead and make it a career? 

I don’t. Photography is something dear to my heart. It gives me joy to capture shots, and I do it for the fun of it. If I made it into a career, there would be commitments and schedules. I dislike both of them.

There was a time when I had quit my job and needed to make money. So I did few wedding photography to make some quick bucks. I got paid, but it was the most horrible feeling. It just didn’t feel right. There was no passion and I didn’t enjoy one bit of it. Then I decided I would never take up photography as a career. 

unnamed (1)


6. Any advice for youths interested to pursue this field?

Photography is an interesting field both as a hobby and a profession. I get asked so many times “How to take better pictures?” Well, my answer always is that there are no shortcuts. Just keep shooting tons of photos and slowly master your technique. Go out regularly, find different compositions, find new subjects, and develop patience. Don’t limit yourself to uploading your photos on Facebook. Try getting feedback from likeminded photographers around the world by uploading photos to sites like Flickr and 500px. And lastly, ignore people who tell you that you need a better camera… you don’t. You cannot depend on your camera when your imagination is out of focus! 

You can view more of Prakash’s works at www.flickr.com/prakaz

Watching the Milky Way


CAPTOR OF SMILES -Bikkil Sthapit

Bikkil Sthapit

Bikkil Sthapit, the editor of a socio political webzine ‘Ignite South Asia’ takes photography as a medium to connect to people and tell tales of commoners. A street photographer, Bikkil believes, ‘Behind every smile lies a story and it is the job of the photographer to let them surface.’


1. What actuated the thought of photography? How long have you been a photographer?

I still remember stealing my brother’s analog camera and taking pictures with it when I was just a kid. Later I remember borrowing cameras from friends and colleagues and going out. I used to ask my friends to pose, or even randomly shoot whoever and whatever was wandering in the gallis that I walk.

If you think photographers ought to have camera of their own then I’ve been a photographer for two years. If not, then I’ve been taking pictures for over a decade now.


2. Why did you choose this particular field of photography?

I see a direct connection with people rather than flora-fauna, landscapes etc. So I try to see their emotions in my viewfinder.



3. Is there a particular photographer that inspires you?

I can’t think of any particular photographer that inspired me. But random pictures that I see in internet, newspaper or magazines leave their impressions on me. Besides, I love flipping through portraits and street photos taken by friends. Photographers’ work inspire me not by their techniques but by the emotions they capture.


4. What are the challenges in this aspect of photography?

Sometime we lose our patience, run out of time, or get carried away in our own emotions. I think, to become a street photographer one should be at the right place and time with the right state of mind.



5. Your photographs tell common stories of common people. What is the element that you find so extraordinary in these ordinary lives?

I always believed that ‘everyone is special’. So, this is my mantra when I shoot people from ordinary lives, doing their daily works and becoming best at what they do. I’ve taken pictures of a porter; I believe he carries those heavy loads better than anyone in the whole market. I’ve taken pictures that capture people smiling, for me it is just the best thing they have or can offer. So every ordinary story has hidden extraordinariness hidden. It is the photographer’s job to bring it out.


6. Any advice for the youth interested to pursue this field?

I advise you to pick up any camera and just start shooting whatever you feel like without any prejudices or thinking of rules and regulations. Just shoot.


INTO THE WILD – Shria Maharjan 

Shria 6Nineteen year old Shria is a beginner at nature and wildlife photography. A recent high school graduate and lover of travel and adventures, Shria presents a gourmet of wild life photography that one cannot seem to resist.


1. What got you started in photography? And how long have you been a photographer?

I was motivated by my father, who loved to take photographs of me and my sister when we were young. I must say I was touched by a passion for photography since the first time I picked up a camera. It has been nearly 3 years that I’ve been playing with it.


2. What is so special about wild life photography that caught your eye?

Basically I love animals, and I also love to travel. I simply love adventures. So nature and wildlife photography excites me the most. It allows me to stumble upon new and exciting things, escape from my comfort zones and fall in love with every new experience.


Shria 3


3. How do you select the subjects of your photography?
I just make sure what I want, whether my images should express about animals, or landscapes, or anything before I start clicking away. And then I put my knowledge of angles, composition and lighting to work to get the picture I want.


4. Any challenges while pursuing nature and wildlife photography?
Since I’m a beginner, I don’t have much experience. Being a student, I didn’t even have much time for preparations. And things aren’t easy, so you got to be very careful and have patience. Being fully geared up for the field is very important, because you’re never warned of anything that comes next.


5. Do you plan to take this hobby ahead and make it a career?
Photography is my therapy, not just my hobby. So with any luck, I’m going to pursue my passion for photography as a career.


Shria 7


6. Any advice for the newbies interested in pursuing this field?
You need to have patience, learn skills and techniques. But before that, you must feel the passion for shooting. I myself am a beginner, so there’s a long way to go for me as well.


7. How do you see this genre of photography 5 years down the line?
I see many serious photographers, but few choose this genre. Historically, the lack of knowledge and equipment may have been a reason. But things are changing and there are many photographers keen to understand things and pursuing their passion, which makes me very happy.

Shria 1


The Portrait Artist – Kewal Rai 

Kewal Rai

Kewal Rai, a semi professional photographer currently residing in Sydney, has been probing the areas of portrait, conceptual and street photography. He has also been branching out his woks to the territories of fashion. Kewal believes that a human can best connect and relate to other human beings and their deep emotions.


1. How did you get into photography?

When I think about my obsession of photography and creation of imagery, it does bring a smile, as photography had never occurred to me at one point. I used to enjoy having a camera in my hands and taking photos since I was young, though I did freak out when I touched those huge SLRs that belonged to my friends: they were really costly and had many buttons which were alien to me.

I lost count of the number of films I finished when I went to Nepal during my early 20s. I actually lost a few films, and later it cost me a tiny fortune to print those hundreds of photos. And just before I came to Australia, I was busy taking photos of everything that I felt would be a good memory: friends, people, places, monuments, thanks to cameras borrowed from my good friends. I only knew how to use the auto mode then.

In Australia, I discovered Flickr and headed there anytime I wanted to ogle at amazing photos. In there I came across a handful of amazing Nepalese photographers. I used to wonder how they could be so creative and how they managed time to capture or create such beautiful works. Then I got myself a mobile (Nokia) which had a 5 megapixel camera. I thought that camera was the most amazing thing in the world, I started clicking everything with it, though without any basic knowledge of photography. I upgraded to a DSLR (Nikon D90) as they were getting affordable (though not as affordable as today). Not long after that, I realized that I had found the passion I had been missing my whole life.
Kewal Rai (5)

2. Why did you choose this particular field of photography?

I still dabble in all kinds of photography when the chance occurs as I still need to learn so much. But if I had to choose I want to focus on photographing people, be it portraits, street photography, wedding, conceptual photos, or fashion. Yes we love animals, beautiful landscapes, architecture, cars, etc, and they do bring out emotions. But who do we relate to the most? Another fellow human being.

What captivates me about people is that I am one too, and we share the same emotions. I would like to convey these emotions to others and evoke their own. I love the interaction between us before we come out with the final imagery. That is something we cannot achieve from other types of photography, not to the same level and understanding anyways. We communicate and create!


3. How difficult is it to break free from traditional aspects of photography?

Tradition is something that has deep roots, so breaking free is always difficult. As time and technology changes, ideas diverge from tradition. As long as we, the new generation, try to understand the traditional aspects, it will be easier to break free from it.


4. Are you trying to add new aspects, crisscrossing boundaries and blending techniques in this genre?

I feel that I am not going all out in terms of testing my ideas, nor have I studied and understood old masters enough. Those are two things I plan to and need to do extensively before I can find my own style, which I am still searching for. Once I do enough of these, I will definitely be crisscrossing boundaries, blending techniques and hopefully adding new aspects that I can call my own.


Kewal Rai (2)


5. A few words of inspiration for youngsters trying to pursue this field?

These are the things I am always telling myself, so hopefully it helps. Go out and shoot, shoot and shoot! That is the best way to improve. Shoot personal projects for yourself as much as possible. Slow down when you’re shooting, seek critiques and opinions. Try to be different, and last but not least, always be hungry to create!

You can view more of Kewal’s works at www.facebook.com/Kewal.Rai.Photography


Kewal Rai (1)



Samrachana SharmaSamrachana Sharma, the admin of the Facebook page ‘Lens Madness’ is a photographic manipulator. The twenty year old has been pursuing her degree in System Physiology with a minor in Chemistry. Her digital alterations are very enticing and have been attracting a large mass of audience through her social media page. Her levitation techniques are sure to leave you awestruck.

1. How long have you been into photographic manipulation?

I was not much into photography before I took a course on Black and White photography when I was 16, a junior in high school. Since then I have never stopped, I liked it and I knew I should not stop. However, photo manipulation caught my interest a little less than a year ago.


2. What is so special about photographic manipulation that caught your eye?

I think Photographic manipulation is artistic and creative. It is almost like poetry in the form of an image. Manipulated photos, especially conceptual, tell stories of a photographer’s mental image, they convey a certain mood. I see the work of other professional photographers online, and the way they manipulate their photos gives me a sense of who they are. This always motivates me to create my own manipulations.


3. Most of the time, a photographer’s work is done when he/she captures a moment. But for this genre, one has to spend hours behind the screen in order to add extra elements to the photo, changing it from real to virtual. What are other challenging aspects of this photography?

Numerous individuals are into photography, and occasionally thoughts/ideas clash. To make sure that my work is distinct and unique would be the biggest challenge. Furthermore, I run out of ideas. Honestly, I can’t force that “light-bulb to light” sometimes; I would say this is my biggest challenge.




4. You run a page ‘Lens Madness’ in Facebook. When did you decide to start this page?

I opened this page in 2011. It just started as a page where I uploaded all my friends’ and family’s photo-shoots. Sounds funny, but I just did not want to be flooded with notifications on my actual Facebook account. They did not have a “turn off notification” option then.

Not just one person but many had encouraged me to put up my work on social media. It would be unfair to name just one.


4. Do you plan to take this hobby ahead and make it a career?

I haven’t thought about a career in photography yet. Currently I am focusing on my science degree, but if I get an opportunity, why not? I am considering obtaining an associate’s degree in photography, but nothing is certain yet.




5. Any advice for the youth interested to pursue this field?

Photography is all about vision and who you really are. I would advise photographers to never compare their photos to other’s work because, your perspective is different from everybody else’s. Every photographer has a style, and your theme makes you stand out from the rest. Try to make your work distinct. Be positive and everything should fall in place, not right away but eventually.

You can view more of Samrachana’s work’s in www.facebook.com/LensMadness


Creative artists from Nepal have been widening their horizon, sharpening their skills and in the years to come will be ready for the commercially feasible fields of photography. So, if you want to try your hands at photography, now is the right time. One doesn’t need extravagant gadgets and gizmos to be a photographer. All you need is a keen eye, zeal for your subject matter, a lot of patience, and a camera. After all a photographer’s eyes are his first lenses. And who knows, maybe you could be the next trend arbiter in photography?

Text by: Pragya Thapaliya

  • Watching the Milky Way
  • Bikkil Sthapit
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  • Shria 1
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  • Kewal Rai
  • Kewal Rai (1)
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  • Samrachana Sharma
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  • hulk takes a break-6
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  • Danbo - Tenzing Samdup
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  • Prakash Bajracharya
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