As a photographer gets to know his subject’s environment better, the photographer often sees the subjects in a different way and would photograph them looking quite differently. The people connection is what makes the photos stand out. This seems to be the philosophy of Pune based Mahesh Lonkar who loves to photograph people in their natural settings. For somebody who didn’t have money to enroll for a foundation course in art, winning GPU Gold in the 15th PSI International Salon is indeed a true reflection of his indomitable spirit. We celebrate his success story.
The humble origins
Mahesh was born in a lower middle class family. During his school days, he had won prizes in various inter-school and even state-level drawing competitions. Although he was good in art, he found studies difficult. He failed in 8th standard, barely managed to clear 10th and somehow scraped through the technical stream of 12th. He knew his calling was in the field of art, so he applied for a foundation course in a government aided art college. However, due to his not-so-good score of 10th, he didn’t get the admission. In 2005, the cost of this one year foundation course in a private college was around Rs. 10000/-. Mahesh knew this amount was beyond the reach of his family. He was left with no option.
Mahesh’s father worked in Bungalows as a gardener. He is also an orthopaedic patient since last 20 years. When the Bungalow owners came to know about Mahesh’s plight, they came forward to help as good Samaritans and Mahesh was able to secure admission in Bharati Vidyapeeth Art College. In return to the generosity, Mahesh’s father worked in their Bungalows without taking a penny for an entire year.
While Mahesh cleared the first hurdle, he knew the financial challenges were more than over. If he secured less marks in the foundation course and was unable to make it to the merit list of his next course in a government aided college, then he had no choice but to opt for a private college for the next four years. The fees per academic year of a private college was around Rs. 55000/- which was beyond his wildest dreams. Mahesh decided that he can’t afford to be anything short of being the best in his foundation course.
The owners of the Bungalows where my father worked as a gardener, Marathe Sir, Limaye Sir, Shah Ma’m, Jain Ma’m, who helped me in my education, I am indebted for life to all of them.
His determination and hard work bore results and Mahesh topped the course in his college. He was also able to secure his seat in the government aided Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya where the fees was only Rs. 500/- per year. He completed his four year Diploma course of Applied Art (Commercial Art) in first class with specialization in Advertising and Illustration in 2010. His family was very proud of him. Because of his great skills, he got a job soon after passing out of the college. Currently he designs Tata’s upcoming vehicles as a Senior Visual designer working for TATA Elxsi Design studio.
There was always one thing in mind while doing the job. Everybody does job but what next? Where is the uniqueness of my work as it was seen in my school and college days? I did not select this field to get a job.
In the pursuit of passion
Mahesh got introduced to Photography in the Art College. During those days, he could not imagine owning a camera. He used his friend’s camera for advertising shoots and was attracted towards it. After second year of his job, he bought his first camera Canon 550D and started photography. He started searching for the composition of his paintings through his camera.
He participated in the famous Palkhi procession for the first time in 2013 and has been doing photography of Palkhi every year since last 4 years. Whatever awards he has received so far at international, national or state level, he got them for his shots of Palkhi. Other than this, he also practices Wildlife Photography. But his main focus is on Culture photography. He frequently attends famous gatherings like Palkhi, Somvati Amavasya Jejuri, Pushkar Camel Fair, and fairs of different villages, etc. to capture some awesome moments.
I have not undergone any course in photography but I understood all the technicalities practically while clicking shoots of Palkhi. I feel the rules of painting and photography are almost the same.
15th PSI International Salon GPU Gold Winning Entry
I clicked this photo at Velapur village in Solapur district. I love to use the wide angle lens in Street Photography. This photo is taken by the Canon 7D Mark 2 + Canon 10-18mm Kit. I have taken this photo with a lower angle to highlight the importance of the subject in my photo. I have used the concept of leading line in this photo. Leading line helps to create depth and dimensionality which draws the viewer into the image. The partly visible dholki player helps in terminating the leading line. I also like this photo because of its composition.
This award is special for me. It is my first international gold medal and for the first time, my photo was displayed at the prestigious Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.
My parents and my better half, who believed in me, have supported me a lot to pursue my passion.
His appetite for photography is taking Mahesh to new waters. Since last two years, he has been trying for the HIPA Dubai International Photography Competition. Why HIPA? Because the winner gets a hefty cash prize. If he wins, he can travel around the world for photography by giving a full stop to his corporate job. He is very much looking forward to it this year. And the success achieved in the other competitions has increased his confidence. We wish him all the best.