A specialist in underwater photography and customised photo shoots in water, ace photographer Anup J Kattukaran, who prefers to be called Anup J Kat, says diving in has a calming effect on him. Anup was in the city for the PEP Photography Summit where he shared his experiences.
“Initially, it was about being different from the other photographers. I started off by trying something else and that’s how underwater happened,” Anup says, while talking about how he came about becoming an underwater photographer. Talking about his experiences under the ocean, he says, “The world under water is extremely fascinating. It’s new, it’s different and I think it’s something everyone should experience at least once.”
Once he started diving, he fell in love with the world under the ocean and a desire to capture it took roots in him. And, that’s how, he thought of combining two of his greatest loves, photography and the world under water. “I looked at it as an opportunity of growth. It calms me down and there is always something new that I learn after each dive,” says the photographer.
When asked about his wedding shoots under water and if it is difficult to convince people to get into water, all decked up, he says, “I first shot a friend of mine under water in her wedding attire and, after that, things picked up. People approached me, and not the other way round. Underwater wedding shoots became a reason for people to call me, not because of the wedding photo shoot, but because of the whole under water concept. So, I never really had to convince anyone much.”
Underwater photography is unlike other genres, says Anup while talking about the specifics of it. “Time is the biggest constraint for an underwater photographer. We get a maximum of 45 minutes because any longer than that, the oxygen supply is going to run out. So, we have to dive in, find something, hopefully, frame it well, shoot and get out, all within that time limit. That is, assuming all your equipment works well.”
Diving, in itself, requires a lot concentration and skill. There are a lot of things one needs to keep in mind before and during their time underwater and taking a camera down will only add to the amount of things that one needs to take care of. Asked about the kind of preparation and precautions involved, Anup says, “First is to become a good diver and, then, pick up a camera, maybe after 50 dives, because I made a mistake initially. When I got my certification, I immediately picked up a camera and just dived in. I was a really bad diver because I was more interested in shooting things; I would break coral and stuff. Now, I tell everyone first become a good diver and shooting will come naturally.”
Secondly, he says, never go outside the dive plan. “Don’t ever try to be a hero. Check on your gear, and do it yourself. If there is a new diving buddy, make sure you get to know each other as both of you will need to watch each other’s back down there,” he suggests.
Ask Anup if there were any goof-ups or near-death experiences, the 37-year-old says, “Thankfully, I’ve had none. I swam with sharks and dove into some very deep waters, but, nothing happened so far, and I prefer it that way.”