Had Kishor Kayastha not taken the box camera out of the wall cabinet of his parents’ photo studio, the fate of photography in Nepal would have been very different. “I would go around Bhaktapur carrying the camera looking for distinct perspectives,” Kayastha says. “Even before I was a teenager, people considered me crazy.” This very instinct for a different perspective has made him the bestselling photographer in Nepal.
As a young boy growing up in an ancient artistic town, Kayastha used to click the extraordinary monuments of Bhaktapur, creating visual diaries beyond the celluloid attributes. So were born the panoramas that explained and outlived traditional definitions of landscape photography in Nepal. For an artist in the morph, the whimsical waves of digital pictures proved to be a swift curl that led to the shore of possibilities and dreams. Kayastha moved on following the instincts and exploring the possibilities beyond the ordinary.
Having come from a family that called photography a profession, Kayastha finally showcased his first exhibition in 2001, a desire long sought-after. In the next couple of years, Kayastha added numerous other exhibitions to his list, each exhibition a sold-out phenomenon.
Before Kayastha, one could never say if photography could be a lucrative profession in Nepal. While the mist of uncertainty surrounded most, Kayastha was relentless in his goal, meaning to survive with satisfaction rather than in a lifeless profession. While there were no means to formally educate oneself in the field, he excelled with support from his family.
After building an admirable portfolio, mostly based on art photography, Kayastha moved on to commercial photography along with editorial, documentary and other aspects of the craft. Sticking to his mantras of harmony, perspective, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, balance, color, composition and the undying instinct to perfect, Kayastha began to be recognized among the best commercial photographers of Nepal. But that inquisition of the child who clicked his first shot with a box camera had yet not altered and that passion was channelised towards fashion photography. A new venture for an artist waited. Later on, Kayastha established K2 Art Factory intending to mould his photographic stakes and to train the next generation of photographers in Nepal.
Kayastha’s pictures deal with the transcendence of time and stand as the solicitor describing the past and documenting the future. His close-ups have been about closed doors, ageing monuments, rusting idols, wood carvings and the soft algae that observe time pass by. In a series about dreams and reflections, Kayastha submerged photography with abstract expressionism creating a whole new range of surrealistic representation. Traversing along with slides, film and digital, Kayastha captured the dances of light and shadows, photographing the contrast and getting lost in between. “What I shoot might be a photograph, but what I see is a dream and the outcomes are a blend of both,” he continues, “After all photography too is the representation of ideas.”
Kayastha balances his personal life and study tactfully. After all, photography is his personal life.
Writer: Sworup Nhasiju