Pradeep Gamage is a young photographer who’s going places, literally. This 22-year-old Kandyan’s forte is travel photography. A yearning to take up photography developed at an early age in Gamage. But without a camera, he had to settle for looking up other professional photographer’s work on the internet. In 2009, when Gamage was 14, someone gifted his father a camera, which he gave to Gamage. It was a simple point and shoot affaire. He got his own professional camera just last year and he has been on a ‘shooting spree’ since.
Gamage studied at Kingswood College, Kandy and as any other kid his age, wanted to become a doctor. “Only because society demanded it,” says Gamage candidly. This was until he discovered his passion for photography.
Gamage got hooked on photography when he saw Priyantha Bandara’s work, “landscapes in particular,” says Gamage. “Anushka Eranga has taught me a lot about photography,” says Gamage. He has also been influenced by international photographers the likes of Serge Ramelli and Steve McCurry and instagrammers Jack Morris with the instagram handle @doyoutravel, Lauren Bullen who goes by the handle @gypsea_lust and Chris Burkard.
When asked whether these photographers influenced his thinking and photographing, Gamage admitted that they allowed him to see things differently. “I used to think I could take photos any time of the day. But going over their work I realised that the best time to take photographs is either in the morning or evening, when the world is most beautiful. I now travel just to get this lighting.”
Gamage is currently a first-year student of Tourism at NSBM. In fact, Gamage confides that his current field of study and his hobby are mutually complementary. “I like landscape photography and landscapes are tourist attractions,” explains Gamage, adding that he can use his strengths in photography for the benefit of his tourism career since he visits more places than your usual run of the mill tourism promoter. His Facebook page Ceylon Diaries seem particularly tourist oriented, whether they be domestic or foreign.
Ceylon Diaries is a venture he started with his travel buddies; a software engineer and another photographer. The trio made videos of their frequent excursions and uploaded on Facebook. They plan to turn it into a business venture sometime in the future. On September 3, they uploaded a recap video of all their excursions. It is on par with any international travel video; the stuff you see on Lonely Planet or Discovery Channel. It makes you wonder whether Sri Lanka is this beautiful.
“Many foreigners make good quality travel videos, but sadly there are no Sri Lankans. Ceylon Diaries was our own way of filling this void,” says Gamage, explaining Ceylon Diaries’ objective. “We wanted to showcase our country’s beauty.” Gamage points out that amazing videos of countries like Bali and Philippines are frequently uploaded on social media and the trio just wanted the rest of the world to know how beautiful Sri Lanka really is.
Although he has no formal training, Gamage learned photography watching YouTube videos. “After I watch one YouTube video a number of other suggestions pop up and I watch each and every one of them.” That’s how Gamage learned photography. He works with a Canon 700D and uses a 10X18 mm Cannon wide-angle lens to shoot landscapes. He shoots aerial photography with a DJI Mavic Pro drone.
Despite being a rookie, Gamage has developed his own style. “I prefer to shoot during sunrise and sunset,” says Gamage who uses colours of the sunrise and sunset and long exposure to get the shot he wants. When asked what makes the good picture stand out from the average, Gamage explains that it’s all a matter of personal style. “It depends on the composition of the photograph and how it has been expressed through light.”
When asked how they handle unpredictable factors such as weather conditions when on location, Gamage says that they don’t handle them. “We just adapt. Recently when we went to Sigiriya it was raining so heavily we couldn’t climb. So instead of going back we climbed Pidurangala and shot Sigiriya from there.”
Although all their trips are memorable, Gamage says that their excursion to Devil’s Staircase is probably the most unforgettable. “We entered from Horton Planes and exited from Devil’s Staircase.” Gamage informs that this rout is considered the most rural road in Sri Lanka. Lucky for them, one of the travel buddies, who also doubled as the driver, is an adventure sports enthusiast.
“We camped at Wangedigala, and the sunrise the morning after was the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen,” says Gamage, who has a penchant for sunrises and sunsets. “Plus it was the most physically challenging trip we made. As they say, the best view comes after the hardest climb.”
Gamage is of the opinion that in Sri Lanka photography is underrated. “Photography should be encouraged at school level. After all we have enough doctors and engineers.” Gamage encourages any aspiring photographers keep learning and think out of the box. And a word of advice from experience; never listen to parents and teachers if they discourage you from following your passion. Do what makes you happy. “My parents weren’t too happy about me taking up photography. But now they’re quite proud of me. You have to prove to them that you are capable of making it.” But he warns that photography is not something one should take up for money. “Do it for passion. Money will come later.”