Bitten by the shutterbug

With an unusual New Year’s resolution to take a photograph a day, Minaali Haputantri tells the Mirror Magazine about what it takes to get that perfect shot
By Tahnee Hopman

In pride of place on Minaali Haputantri’s bookshelf stands a photograph of her mother and her dog Buddy. Minaali has captured more photographs than she can count since the time the photo was taken but for her, this photograph stands for many things; as the first she clearly remembers taking. “I remember being particularly pleased that it was in focus, and not even slightly blurred. Back then, those were the only criteria with which I judged my photos.”

Minaali Haputantri

Expressing her passion for capturing pictures of anything and everything- in particular people, nature, crumbly old buildings and cricket (her favourite sport), this 17 year old shutterbug has defined for herself a somewhat unconventional new year resolution- to take a photo a day. Unlike most New Year resolutions, Minaali has no intention of letting this one go.

When she talks of a photo a day, she does not mean just any photo. At her young age, Minaali is determined that she will complete this year, a better photographer than when she began it. Each photograph has to tell its own story,” she declares, “no matter how trivial that story may be. Everything else is secondary.” 

For as long as she can remember, Minaali has been an admirer of good photography- one of her favourites being The Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry for his ability to capture a whole culture with onephotograph. “However,” she says, “I was never really enthusiastic about being the person behind the lens, until I received a simple point and shoot camera when I was twelve. It was a silver Olympus that ran on double A batteries. I’m sure my parents spent quite a fortune on fresh batteries those first couple of years. It was worth it though, because it began something that I’m sure will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

When she is not busy with her studies and extra-curricular activities at St. Bridget’s Convent, Minaali devotes as much time as she can find to evolving as a photographer and perfecting the art which- aside from some technical advice from her father- she is in the process of mastering by learning from what she believes to be a million mistakes. “I still feel that I have a long way to go before being truly satisfied with my skills, though,” she says.

Toting around her prize possession - her Nikon D5000- Minaali observes the world around her, looking forward to her next subject. “I think I’m still in the process of developing my own definitive style. At the moment, I’m really interested in black and white photography. Likewise, there have been a lot of other phases. Something I’ve always done though, is to use natural light. As a result, most of my photographs look more laid back, and less staged. I really hope it stays that way.”

Engrossed in her life as a student, Minaali often finds herself caught up in real life, at which time photography is something of an escape for her. She looks forward to the prospect of her 366 days, 366 photographs project as one which will be an interesting challenge. “Ever since I first heard of project 365 a couple of years ago,” she recalls, “I’ve wanted to do it. Its main purpose is to capture a year in the life of the photographer, and that idea appealed to me. I think there is something really convincing in the fact that I can always look back at this year, even a decade later, and remember exactly what I did and how I felt on a particular day, all thanks to a few photographs.” 

“A good photograph, for me, has nothing to do with the subject, and everything to do with the way the photographer interprets it. A person totally disconnected from the photograph should be able to look at it, and feel exactly what the photographer felt the moment he or she hit the shutter release button,” she continues.

Minaali will turn 18 in June, and at this point of her life she has dreams to become many things. One dream that is particularly appealing to her is a career in photojournalism- “It would allow me to see new places and experience new things,” she says, “while giving me a valid excuse to carry my camera around all the time. What more could I ask for?”

Follow Minaali’s project for 2012 on her Flickr profile at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minaal/

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