“Even if it is a tragic image, I want to show it in a beautiful way. It should convey something to the people and it should be shot well.” These are the first words that photographer S.L. Shanth Kumar says to The Kochi Post. His passion for photography is evident in his words.
Mr. Kumar, who hails from Kollam district in Kerala, is the Principal Photo Journalist with the Times of India, Mumbai. He recently won the prestigious Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year- 2016, an award that every photographer dreams about.
Mr. Kumar’s joy tripled when American actor and producer Leonardo Di Caprio shared his award winning photograph on his Instagram page. As part of the award he won, Mr. Kumar would be given a one-year residence permit in the United Kingdom, to cover the major projects which come under Atkins.
#Regram #RG @bbcearth: Atkins Built Environment Award: ‘Losing Ground to Manmade Disaster’ by @sl_shanth_kumar Photojournalist SL Kumar Shanth won the Atkins Built Environment Award, which depicts the damage being wrought on the coastline at Chennai – the biggest metropolis in Southern India – by a combination of manmade and natural forces. As the population of cities are set to soar, this is a powerful reminder of the challenges facing many areas of our world. #EnvironmentalPhotographeroftheYear #Environment #Nature #Landscape #EnvironmentPhotography #NaturePhotography #LandscapePhotography #India #Chennai
Even though the award is not part of a category and falls under the tag ‘Environmental Photographer of the Year’, it still is divided into four – Environmental Photographer, Young Photographer, Built Environment Award and Changing Climate Award.
The picture titled ‘Losing Ground to Man-made Disaster’ depicts Chennai’s coast being ravaged by nature. Mr. Kumar remembers the day he clicked this picture. “Basically I am a street photographer. I get more stories when I enter a street. Like that you can convey a lot of things in a single photograph. The picture that got me the award was taken when I was making a documentary. I have have worked for five years on a documentary on sea erosion. Whenever sea erosion took place in the coastal areas of Chennai, I used to go there and shoot. The award winning picture is one among them,” said the young photographer.
However, life hasn’t always been easy for Mr. Kumar. The high-profile job he now has was a result of him taking destiny by its horns. When he was 15, he was forced to work in a pest control company. It did not go on for too long. After that, he was a dark room assistant, tea vendor, videographer, and a photographer in a studio. His life took a U-turn when he met Amalnath Benedict Kumar, a photographer with the Times of India. At the time, Mr. Kumar was working with a photo lab in Chennai. Mr. Amalnath understood that Mr. Kumar was highly talented and hired him to be a part of his photography company. All this happened when he was just 19.
“I didn’t work for too long in the company. But during that time, I decided that I would be become a photographer in the Times of India,” he says.
Before joining the Times of India, Mr. Kumar worked with The Indian Express in Cochin.
“I love to copy streets. I always try to capture natural incidents. I want to capture the happiness of people, while having a social impact. I want to display photographs for news stories also with a positive objective,” he says.
Mr. Kumar has won several awards for his works. He won the Canon Photo Journalist Award in 2009, The MCC Wisden Cricket Photo of the Year Award for a picture of children playing cricket on Marina Beach in Chennai in 2011, BP POY award, and so on. Even though Mr. Kumar is achieving milestones every day, he feels he still has a long way to go.