Everybody knows him. He is that crazy fellow with the camera slung around his neck, taking pictures of the shivering devotees half immersed in freezing waters of winter during the Madhab Narayan Fast. He's been coming every year for the last 10 years and has become so much a part of the rituals that he is allowed into the sacred areas where nobody else is.
"I've been studying the festival," says Kishor Kayastha. "Now I know every vantage point, timing and process of the rituals. It affords me correct calculations for my photo shoot." Kayastha likes to call himself an "experimental photographer", and after every experiment he holds an exhibition to show the world how it turned out. His latest is 'Life Through The Lens' at Indigo Gallery and it is about his infatuation with panoramic photography.
The photograph of the Madhab Narayan Fast at the exhibition is made up of 24 different shots taken with meticulous dedication. "Taking pictures of people is difficult because they move. I have to be really quick," he explains. "I study my subject, sketch my composition, calculate the exposure, angle and shots before I shoot."
He keeps returning to a place until he feels that the light and composition is right. Not able to get the desired results with the usual panoramic camera, he went digital and printed the pictures on bromide. "Taking pictures is one thing," he states, "making them is something else. I like to think that my photos are paintings on bromide canvas. My camera is my brush and the light is my colour."
Born and brought up in Bhaktapur, Kayastha's passion for photography began when he was very young. So young, he doesn't even remember. "My parents are photographers and I must have been nine when I started snapping shots," he recalls. "The tripods were taller than me, but I still remember clearly the excitement that gripped me whenever I held the camera." Living in the ancient city has shaped his interest in the architecture and life of medieval Kathmandu so well depicted in his recent work.
"I wanted to recreate what life was like in the 15th Century Bhaktapur," he explains, as he points out the sienna-tinted compositions at the Indigo this week. "Bhaktapur is living history, the people, the gods and goddesses." Although he plans his pictures, sometimes there are lucky accidents like the 'Sadhu at Pashupatinath'.
"I was shooting something else when I sensed this sadhu standing behind me," he recalls, "I just turned around and clicked and turned back again." The vibrant colours of the sadhu's painted forehead and the wisp of smoke curling above his dark eyes create a remarkable and mystic effect.
'Life Through The Lens' is on at the Indigo Gallery till 15 January.