See The World Through My Eyes
INTERVIEW WITH VINAY SWAROOP BALLA
Vinay Swaroop Balla, from Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, is an Optometrist by profession and photographer by passion. In a short time he excelled in photography on his own and won several awards too. He has launched an Annual Fund Raising campaign in May 2015 on the theme of “See The World Through My Eyes” where he has collaborated with Eye Hospitals. He has recently conducted his second Photography exhibition and fund raising sale in LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad and all the funds raised are being donated to the hospital in charity to provide treatment to the patients below the poverty line. He is here to share his expertise and experience with us.
When did you start your photography? What inspired you to get into it?
I started Photography in Early 2013 after I moved to Singapore from India. I love traveling to exotic destinations like beaches, islands and mountains to witness nature at its best. The beauty of the nature inspired me to start photography as it is the only way to show the world what I see.
How did you learn this art? Do you have a Mentor? Who has been the biggest inspiration?
I bought my first camera in Early 2013 and started taking photographs and learn myself through online tutorials and by joining photography forums and groups locally in Singapore. I am an Optometrist by profession where we deal with different powers of lenses and light when seeing patients in the clinic. I have gained the knowledge of Optical System and characteristics of Light from my degree itself. This has helped me to improve my skill in Photography much faster than people from other backgrounds. I have learnt few techniques from senior photographers in the local photography communities. I have quite a few mentors who inspired me with their works.
What are the hurdles you have faced in the journey of your passion?
There are not many hurdles in my journey as a travel photographer. As I visit the remotest places in new countries to capture the unique photographs, lack of safety is one of the main hurdles I usually face. I am not a commercial or full time photographer. I only travel when my work schedule allows me to. Being an Astro Landscape Photographer, I always plan my trips during the dry season as the night skies are expected to be clear from clouds. Thus, I will get the clear glimpse of Milky Way. But weather is really unpredictable sometimes which disappoints me after traveling with months of planning and dedication. Anyway, that’s Nature. Rain or Shine, I enjoy both. Photography is a very expensive art and so is Traveling. But these little hurdles never turned me down.
What is your area of specialization in Photography? What inspired you to do specialization in that stream?
Astro Landscape Photography is my main specialization at present and I have been into this since late 2013. I have well mastered the techniques and skill to capture the beauty of night sky. I am a Night lover since my childhood days. I love sleeping on the terrace to immerse myself in the ocean of stars. This is what inspired me. When I visited a place in Indonesia called Mount Bromo, I witnessed the beauty of dark sky with bright stars as it is very far from the city and very less light polluted. The light pollution at nights in developing cities obstruct the visibility of stars, hence we need to travel far from the city to avoid the light pollution to get the real glimpse of night sky.
What were some of your most exciting and adventurous moments on field and in your photography life?
My most exciting moment was when I first witnessed the Milky Way with naked eye during my first astro landscape expedition to Indonesia in late 2013. The beauty of night sky mesmerized me with a jewel cluster of stars which we usually do not see in the cities we live in.
My most adventurous moment was when a bull was chasing me while I was shooting a bull race festival called Pacu Jawi in Padang, Indonesia in early 2014. It was an unforgettable moment for me as I was capturing the bulls & the jockey face to face during the race in knee deep muddy water. I was almost hit by one bull but fortunately I ran aside quickly after capturing my shot. That was a goose-bumping experience.
What are your goals and future plans?
My goal is to travel as many places as I can to witness the beauty of nature at its best from different parts of the world.
My future plan is to launch social campaigns in different places across India to raise funds by selling my photographs and to utilize these funds to the needy community for their medical treatment. I have launched an Annual Fund Raising campaign in May 2015 on the theme of “See The World Through My Eyes” where I have collaborated with Eye Hospitals in Hyderabad, India and exhibiting my photographs. All the funds raised from this exhibition & sale are being donated to the Hospital’s charity where they utilize the funds to perform free cataract surgeries and other eye ailments to patients below poverty line.
I also plan to reach out to maximum population to create awareness about eye problems and poverty in India through my Fund Raising campaign. My plan is to start a crowd funding campaign to raise more funds by selling my photography prints. This is my sincere contribution to Vision 2020 Initiative.
What advice and suggestions would you like to give to the amateurs who have begun their journey in this field?
Photography is an Art that has no limits. These days, digital technology has gone too far beyond our imagination and many think that capturing photos does not require skill. But Photography is all about how you see things in your perspective. As one of the great photographer Ansell Adams said, “You Don’t Take a Photograph, You make it”. If you want to be a serious photographer, you must first develop the passion towards it. You must develop the vision, planning and patience to make a photograph. Practice is the key. Photography is an art that can be improved not only with learning theory, but also needs lot of practice. I believe in 3 P’s. Practice, Planning & Patience. These 3 elements play a very important role in every Photographers life.
Tell us about your mission – See the world through my eyes?
There are about 37 Million people who are blind in the World, out of which 15 Million are in India. Surprisingly 75% of these cases are preventable and living in communities that are below poverty line. These people are unable to afford their basic eye treatment and hence become blind due to serious conditions that are left untreated.
In 1999, WHO (World Health Organization) and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has launched a global initiative called “Vision 2020” where they are working towards elimination of preventable blindness by the year 2020. The three main causes of blindness in our Country is the lack of awareness about eye health in rural communities, unavailability and affordability of the treatment.
Being a Travel Photographer, I have witnessed beauty of nature from many exotic places around the world. But as an Optometrist, when I see my patients in the clinic, it depresses me to the fact that there are millions of people who are unable to see what I am seeing just because they are unable to afford their eye treatment. In May 2015, I came up with Fund Raising Campaign on the theme “See The World Through My Eyes” where I exhibit the yearly collection of my award winning travel photographs on sale. All the sale profits from this exhibition are being donated to charitable eye hospitals in India to perform free cataract surgeries and to treat other eye ailments for patients below poverty line.
My first campaign in collaboration with L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India during May 2015 and second campaign in Oct 2016 were a huge success and many VIP’s and celebrities from Tollywood visited the exhibition and supported this noble cause. I have raised approximately 1.5 Lakhs by selling the photo prints that were displayed and donated to the Hospital. About 50 patients below poverty line were benefited through this exhibition cum sale where they underwent free cataract surgeries and eventually gained their lost vision.
This campaign will be continued every year and I am now targeted hospitals across India to reach more needy communities. I am also starting an online crowd funding campaign where people can visit the website and buy my photo prints (available in different sizes) online and get shipped to their address. As stated, the funds raised through the sales, will be donated to the charitable eye hospitals across India to perform free eye treatment for patients below poverty line. My goal is to bring a significant change to the population who are blind in India and it is my sincere contribution to Vision 2020. Hence my theme “See The World Through My Eyes” will do justice to this cause. I strongly believe “Every Eye Deserves The Best”.
Special Thanks to Vinay Swaroop Balla for sharing his experiences.
Very glad to inform the readers and followers of this online magazine that we have started and introduced Video Interviews – our new step towards building a platform for Artists & Photographers with Vinay Swaroop video interview. Watch his video interview here:
With Love & Passion
Smile Art Beats.