We are living in the digital age and photography has gone to a newer level with selfies and 32-Megapixel camera phones. The newest addition to this is Drones, which are essentially helpful in taking Pan and aerial shots where probably humans cannot venture. But, much before drones someone came up with an Unique idea of letting Kites do what drones today do, just with a camera attached to it and a remote to control it. Genius right? That’s Dinesh Mehta for you.
Dinesh Mehta, India’s only professional kite photographer, sends his camera up in the air by manoeuvring the “maanja” to work his magic. From a height of 150 feet, the camera attached to the Kite takes some breathtaking images of the Mumbai skyline from various angles. Mehta’s kite photography is the simplest way to capture aerial photographs. “Kites are the old-fashioned, rule-abiding and decidedly uncontroversial cousins of drones and For me, it emerged more out of necessity because my work involves photographing for urban planners, forest department, architects and developers, and it’s not easy to take aerial shots, especially if you don’t have your own helicopter or even a remote-controlled chopper. That’s where kite photography comes in,” says Mehta.
Seen above is a picture of Gujarat Kutch region
Born in Valsad, Gujarat, he learnt this technique from French architect, Yves Guichard. And the very first aerial shots he took were around the Nalanda University. Since then, this 65-year-old is the only one to practice kite photography professionally. He was also invited by the King of Bhutan to take pictures via kite photography when a school was being built there.
The technique of Kite Photography is inexpensive however there are challenges like Wind, Weather, Rain and even sometimes Birds spoiling a shot. Besides this, permissions need to be attained for this kind of photography which is a bit difficult to get too.
His Best work till date is the Maha Kumbh Mela of 2012 wherein he captured surreal shots of Festival. He captured aerial shots for Rahul Mehrotra & Vera’s book titled “Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Mega City” and was published by the Harvard University as well. The book explains how the 23.5 sq.km. area of the Kumbh Mela, which is immersed in water the rest of the year, changes to a temporary landscape during the festival.
He says ” “We went where Google could not, into the heart of the Maha Kumbh Mela to capture the impressive grid of colourful, streets that pops up every 12 years to accommodate the world’s largest gathering”.
Dipa Mehta, his wife accompanies him on all his projects and has herself become a self taught kite photographer. She is now an expert in gauging the wind flow direction and is of great help to Dinesh Mehta during his outdoor expeditions. This art needs to be learnt and further explored by our Generation too, as this seems to be by far the most effective, innovative and inexpensive mode of Photography.