His shot of a ship, titled The Titanic, was selected for the New York Gallery; his portraits have won him critical acclaim across the globe; his clicks have frequently featured in top magazines, including the National Geographic. Meet Aman Chotani, the 27-year-old travel photographer who has made Noida his home. A spinner of yarns, albeit visual, Chotani has taken it upon himself to bring to life remote cultures and lifestyles through visual narration.
Photograph of a stranded ship off the coast of Balito, South Africa.
Chotani inherited his love for the lens from his father at a young age. He began toying with light, aperture and shutter speed from early on. His father, a shutterbug himself, gave him a free rein, and encouraged him to pursue his passion. Chotani completed his BA in cinema from the Asian School of Media Studies in Noida and went on to acquire an advanced diploma in photography from Style Design College in Durban, South Africa.
Drawn to Noida for its quiet and green, Chotani made it his home in 2007. He explains, “Noida had a pull for me from the very first day. I was born and brought up in Delhi, and am used to its uproar, traffic and madness. Coming from Delhi I liked the calm, the green, and the cosmopolitan vibe of Noida. After I completed my degree, I decided to shift there in my own apartment in Sector 137, though my parents stayed on in Delhi.” Strangely though, a story on Noida still eludes him. In his words, “I have stories from all over the world, but the best stories take time. Noida is still evolving – it will someday have its own tale.”
Durban has had a strong influence on Chotani’s works. That is where he met Louis Kleynhans, an award-winning wildlife photojournalist from South Africa, and got to assist him as well. He recounts, “While studying in Durban I approached Kleynhans for part-time assistance. Didn’t hear from him for a long, but got a call finally. He was looking for an assistant. After my first shoot, he asked me to work as his assistant. I was required to help him with lights, stands, and other equipment. There was this one time when he had a wedding shoot and he arrived late, so he asked me to take the peripheral shots while he focussed on the main frames. He liked my work and hired me as his second photographer. Soon, I was travelling with him to different shoots -- wildlife, commercial, fashion. During this stint, I discovered my love for travel.”
Camels walking in traditional glory in Pushkar
City Spidey got in touch with Kleynhans over the mail and this is what the mentor has to say about one of his favourite students, “He quickly learnt to work in dangerous terrains; got used to long travels, working hours, and waiting for the one perfect shot. He understood that a lot of planning and research went into a story. Over time, he developed his own style. He has worked very hard to reach where he is now.”
Chotani won worldwide appreciation for his stills within a short span. He bagged the Siena International Photo Award 2015 (Italy); he got an honourable mention in the portrait category at the International Photography Award, United States. He has had several exhibitions across India, and his exhibition, Portraits – a collection of his shots in Nepal – has won him critical acclaim. His clicks have featured prominently in several top magazines, both online and print - Life Force Magazine, iFly KLM, India Today, Creative Gaga, The Platform, Outlook Traveller, Travel Secrets and Dodho.
A Sadhu standing on the ghat in Mathura
Through a monk's eyes in Mathura
After coming back from South Africa, he started his own club to merge his twin passions of photography and travel. Christened Travel with Aman Chotani, the club struck an instant chord with the young population. Explaining his club’s popularity, he says, “Travelling with me is not just about photography -- it’s your experiences as a traveller. You will live several lives in one lifetime. Each story captured during the travel is what the traveller lived through.”
Classic shot of Istanbul’s elegant mosques dominating the city’s skyline
Of all the work he has done, the project Islam holds a special place in his heart. It explores the Muslim lifestyle, its cultural nuances and the positive influence of Allah on their lives. The project is still in the process of taking shape, and is meant to be converted into a book of photo essays.
Candid shot of prayer at Jama Masjid on Eid
Speaking fondly of the project, he says, “I want to show what they think of Islam – portray their beautiful stories, and show the world how their faith is a source of positive energy for them.”
With so much already to his credit, this Noida boys sure will go a long way.