KOCHI: Imagine this - a bird’s-eye view of the Kumarakom backwaters filled with the fresh blooming of lotuses. Slicing the stillness of the water is a solitary boat carrying three people. The frame is inked vividly in green with speckles of bright pink. One can only imagine the fairytale-like sight the passengers in the boat are experiencing. “It is hard not to stand in awe and be enchanted by the beauty of nature’s expression,” writes Prasanth Chandran, the photographer, and it is hard to disagree with him.
The viral composition which has since become the official picture-perfect postcard of Kerala Tourism is just one among the many vistas captured by Kochi-based travel photographer Prasanth. His aerial photographs capture Kerala in its authentic beauty, with winding canals amid towering coconut trees, terrace farming in the hills and Chinese fishnets in action.
A former PR professional, Prashanth initially took to photography as a hobby. “I worked at a PR agency in Bengaluru for around seven years. During that time, I started taking pictures on a basic camera whenever I would travel. In 2011, Yahoo featured a photograph I took of Thrissur Pooram on its launch page. That gave me the confidence to quit my job in 2012, move back to Kerala and take up photography full-time,” says Prasanth who currently also works as a freelance digital marketing professional. The story behind his virtual avatar is quite simple. “Gulfu is my nickname. It doesn’t mean anything but all my friends call me that so I thought it would be an interesting name.”
Scrolling through Prasanth’s Instagram handle (@gulfu.photograhy), you will find the breathtaking beauty of Kerala every tourist wants to experience. Prasanth’s clicks have featured in some of the most coveted travel magazines and websites across the world including official social media handles of Kerala Tourism, BBC, Cambridge University, Natgeo, Conde Nast Traveler and Tripadvisor. An accredited photographer with Getty, Prasanth has also sold his images to NASA, Jio and Microsoft.
With the Covid-19 protocol in place and travel restricted, Prasanth’s forte of taking extreme wide shots and drone photography has turned microcosmic. Since lockdown, with his backyard as setting and diminutive insects as muses, Prasanth has been capturing that which is invisible to the naked eye in astounding detail. His latest renditions show the scaly texture of a moth’s wings or zoom into the honeycomb-shaped eyes of a common fly and even document the birth of a butterfly from the pupa.
Living close to the Periyar river, in an area with lush greenery, and filled with bugs and insects, fueled his newest preoccupation. “My friends pull my leg by saying I am either in the air or underground. I have experimented with completely polar compositions but nature and travel photography are more commercially viable than documentary photography if you want to make a living just taking pictures,” says the 36-year-old. More than content for his passion, Prasanth wants to shoot northern lights in Norway next.