From the lab to Ladakh: meet engineer-photographer Prathap DK


In this photo essay, we showcase stunning Ladakh landscapes from the Sublime Galleria exhibition, along with the artist’s insights on creativity, simplicity, nature, and career.

Sublime Galleria - photo exhibition

PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 295 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Prathap DK grew up in Hassan, studied electronics and computer science in Chikmagalur and Mysuru, and then worked as project manager at Sasken for over eight years. His background in artificial intelligence and image processing also led him to become an expert in choosing and using cameras. Combined with his creative flair, this eventually led him to launch a new phase of his career as a landscape photographer.

“Nature photography is all about timing, waiting, patience, composition, light, and colour,” Prathap said, in a chat with YourStory. His travels to Sweden and the US exposed him to stunning landscapes across the seasons, and to the profession of landscape photography.

“Cultural photography and wildlife photography are quite popular in India, as compared to landscape photography,” he observes. Prathap was particularly drawn to the ever-changing landscapes in Ladakh, where formations change with the melting snow.

“Art is about expression, inspiration and simplification. It is about distilling things to their essence, and finding the universal truth,” he explains. Through his blog, seven e-books, and workshops in nature reserves, he brings these attitudes and skills to audiences from India and overseas.

His exhibition at Sublime Galleria in UB City, Bengaluru showcases a range of formats: some 2 X 3 feet, while other spectacular prints are as much as 7 feet wide. The panoramic photographs are stitched together from 5-10 shots each. Overall, he took over 3,000 shots in a 15-day period for this project.

The photographs are priced in the range Rs. 20,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh, some of which are showcased in the photo essay – though it is hard to do justice to the large panoramic shots on desktop or mobile displays.

It is easier to become a photographer these days due to the wide availability of affordable equipment, educational workshops, online resources, and access to tours. “At the same time, the comfort level that people have with smartphone-quality pictures has led to a drop in demand for higher quality prints,” Prathap observes.

Another challenge in photography appreciation is the fact people still associate the quality of the photograph with the quality of the camera, when in fact the mind and skill of the photographer are more important. “No one attributes the success of a pianist to the quality of the piano,” Prathap jokes.

Starting with individual projects and finding connections between them leads to a snowballing effect, but you should keep your overall purpose in mind and not just end up chasing random projects. “Keep asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and why you decided to start on this journey,” he advises, as tips to aspiring photographers.

“It is hard for a photographer to survive only on sales and exhibitions. You need to supplement your income by conducting workshops,” Prathap advises. It is difficult to have a regular and sustainable income in this regard, he adds, which is driving him back to the corporate world. "The financial stability is necessary for my daughter's education. I also don't see a great roadmap in my professional photography career," he explains.

“Creative people get frustrated with business issues like finance, accounts and marketing,” Prathap observes. “If you focus only on money, you will have less creative satisfaction – but on the other hand, you also need recurring income,” he signs off.

Now, what have you done today to explore the different sides of your creative and business potential, and find the balance between them?

Prathap DK

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