‘A photograph as present used to be such a precious gift then,’ Chitrakar

Gopal Chitrakar, the veteran photojournalist, started his career as a press photographer at Gorkhapatra in 1974. His career has seen him focus on many aspects of his professional mainstay – photography. He rose to become general manager of Gorkhapatra which was more in recognition to his seniority in the organisation.

He was the Nepal photo correspondent for Reuters, taught journalism at Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus, worked at Kantipur publications to modernize their media capabilities, and later was named vice chancellor at Nepal Academy of Fine Arts. He often worked two or more roles simultaneously.

The same creative genius, Chitrakar, also noted for his paintings and photo book People Power, came as a guest at Desh Sanchar Chautari to talk about his career and share the treasures of his trajectory.

“Getting pictures ready for publication was a painstaking process taking a whole day during my early days,” he recalls, “it was a time when people receiving a good picture of them felt obliged to reward the photographer with gifts.”

Chitrakar is ready to accept both the good and the bad sides of modern technological advancements. “I might have been able to publish a photo book a month if we had the same technology in those days,” he says. Yet, he is critical of the bad sides the same advancement presents, “I am afraid to look at pictures these days owing to a bombardment of misleading materials and it is beyond imagination how it goes with full flourished AI.”

He shared the enduring patience and matching efforts he had to make not to miss the picture when Gyanendra Shah left the Narayanhiti Palace after monarchy was abolished in 2008. He waited more than a week, night and day roaming to the both gates of the palace, as there were rumors that he could leave it secretly any moment.

“A photojournalist must expand one’s own horizon to have a quality career. Simply capturing images is not enough.  “If you are unable even to appropriately caption your photograph, then complaining alone has no meaning,” he says, aiming at aspiring photographers while suggesting media organizations have their role too in this matter. “The media organization must be sincere to provide sufficient training as well as help provide guidance on the non-primary aspects of the profession,” he stresses.

He does not agree that pictures are always more powerful than words. “It is not a picture that is worth a thousand words, but captions can turn them completely on their head,” he says.

Chitrakar enjoys photography but is passionate about painting, “the two are completely different and I enjoy them both. Photography became my career, which I enjoyed thoroughly, and the contentment I receive from painting is beyond parallel, which is why I am investing time in my retired life.”