Photographer Aman Chotani’s pictures give us an inside view of Kashmir’s incredible beauty despite the trying circumstances prevalent in the region.
A professional travel and lifestyle photographer from Delhi, Aman Chotani initially started off as an assistant to National Geographic Photographer Louis Kleynhans before he ventured out on his own a year later.
A self-confessed “wanderer”, Aman, whose works were recently on display at the Indian Photography Festival (IPF) 2019 in Hyderabad, says, “My images immerse the viewer in the subject’s culture, bringing a visual authenticity to my photographs.”
Aman’s pictures of glistening snow-clad mountains, the well-appointed shikaras on the Dal Lake, beautiful apple orchards, the unmatched glimpses of the floating vegetable market and the rich culture of Kashmir capture precious moments for a lifetime.
“Travel in itself is a beautiful experience but at times, one ends up at a place that makes it even more exhilarating. For me, Dal Lake was a destination that left me awestruck with its beauty and simplicity. The people, weather, scenic charm and the majestic waters all had a role to play. I have been to several lake cities but Dal Lake is by far the closest to my heart,” says Aman, who adds, “I was there for 10 days and each day made me realise how life was so different and beautiful there.”
Aman confesses that his favourite pictures came from the floating market. “Without fail, each morning, I would visit the market; sometimes to capture the moments through my camera or at times, just to live the vibe of the place. It was intriguing to watch people rowing down from different directions to a common spot — colourful shikaras loaded with fresh vegetables, spices and flowers, rowing side-by-side with people chattering joyously. Within no time, the lake would come to life and the turquoise waters would start reflecting the varied colours of life. Magical is how I would express that moment,” says the ace lensman, who adds, “Though they gathered there for trade, one could observe close bonds highlighted in their conversations. It was like their chat-room.”
Given that there are few places as complex as Kashmir, it’s amazing how Aman has managed to capture an inside view of its incredible beauty.
“Being there and living those moments made me reflect on how we keep alternating between dreams and despair. We are all well aware of the circumstances they live in, yet the place is surrounded by love and happiness. There is uncertainty in terms of circumstances but life never stops; no matter what happens, they all will come back tomorrow and indulge in these conversations in the same old way – and that’s the beauty of this place,” he concludes.