"It would be a great loss if at some point I did not photograph Malaika Arora for the Kingfisher calendar."
Those interested in the world of photography will have likely come across Atul Kasbekar. He hails as an exceptional Indian photographer, known for his Kingfisher Calendar shoots.
The year 2018 marks his tenth shoot of the calendar, which features an array of glamorous models. While many are keen to learn more about these beautiful women, what about the man behind the camera?
Surprisingly, Atul didn’t originally pursue photography – in fact, he studied chemical engineering! He soon realised this wasn’t the career for him and dropped out, embarking as an aspiring photographer in the US.
After finishing education, he worked with the likes of Ron Slenzak, Jay Silverman and David Le Bon before returning to India in the early 1990s. Atul began working with Kingfisher in 2003 and has completed 10 calendar shoots.
While he is a celebrated photographer, Atul also is gaining recognition as a Bollywood producer. His two films Neerja (2016) and Tumhari Sulu (2017) which both witnessed huge success!
Let’s learn more about Atul Kesbekar as he speaks to DESIblitz about the Kingfisher Calendar 2018, photography and the models he wants to work with.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a photographer?
Basically, when I was at Chemical Engineering at UDCT, I realised that in a class of 60 there were only 3 women. The chances of meeting beautiful women seemed exponentially higher if I changed professions.
Since I already possessed an Agfa camera that I suspect was recovered from the Mohenjo-Daro ruins, it seemed like a good profession to take up.
How did you plan and prepare for the Kingfisher shoot?
It’s about a 3 to 4-month process that begins when I reach for my first beer of the summer. Which is almost always an ice cold Kingfisher. That reminds me that I have a calendar to shoot and I better get on to it right away.
What do you like about photoshoots like the Kingfisher calendar? Your highlights?
Hmmm … let’s see now. I get to throw a dart at a moving globe and pick a location. The client adores me and almost always agrees. There’s almost no cribbling about budgets. I get an absolute dream team of make-up, hair, styling, retouching and production people to work with.
I also get to hang with 5-6 stunning women whose legs are almost as long as the Burj Khalifa on an isolated exotic beach. What’s not to like?
What are the cameras and equipment you would use for such a fantastic shoot?
I have always believed that no typewriter wrote a novel by itself and what you do with the equipment is more important then what equipment one uses. Having said that I am a Nikon loyalist.
Can you share one trick of the trade you love to use?
I always, always, always use a flash when I’m shooting to modulate the light in a way I like.
Literally, every image in the Kingfisher calendar has the use of outdoor fill flash.
These kinds of shoots can be a long day. What keeps you focused?
When you love what you do one never tires. When it comes to photography, I’m a combination of a marathon runner and a monk with a meditative focus.
How do you think photography has changed from film to the digital era?
I think if you can imagine it, you can now put the result on to your computer with a bit of planning. All this can be done potentially at a fraction of the cost from the days of film, with no compromise.
Any Kingfisher shots which are your most favourite?
There are a lot of images that are special, but Tamara Moss working with Rajan the famous elephant in the Andamans would be right up there.
Are there any models you would love to work with?
I think it would be a great loss if at some point I did not photograph Malaika Arora for the Kingfisher calendar.
What would you have done if you were not a photographer?
I would have either been a really bad chemical engineer or an excellent salesperson somewhere or the other.
What would you say to budding photographers who want a career like yours?
- Stay focused;
- Stay innovative;
- Promote yourself regularly;
- Don’t dress like a slob.
As one can see, Atul’s shoots create stunning, jaw-dropping images, looking superb for the Kingfisher Calendar. With his sharp eye and nurtured talent, he has forged a successful career as one of India’s most well-loved photographers.
We’re sure fans eagerly await to see more of his stunning work. Make sure you follow the photographer on Instagram for future beautiful shoots.
Take a look at more of Atul Kesbekar’s work by clicking any of the images below!