“I love showing the grandness in life, wherever it may be.” So says Samir Dave, this week’s Capital Lifestyle Instagrammer.
Samir heads the East Africa operations of a multi-national manufacturing firm, and is a self-proclaimed civilised hobo looking to satiate his unending wanderlust, hopefully with a whisky to enjoy at sunset wherever the world may find me.
The popular Instagrammer, known as @samdave69, dazzles his followers with magical photos that can transport you to far-flung destinations, all over the world.
Capital Lifestyle reached out to Samir to find out how photography and Instagram have impacted his journey in Mobile Photography.
What cameras do you enjoy shooting with and what do you like most about them?
I believe that the best camera is the one with you and by virtue of that, I absolutely enjoy shooting with my iphone. It takes quality images and is always in my pocket. I do lug around a Sony A77 with a Tokina 11-16mm wide angle lens which helps me accentuate my (wide) shooting style. My kit also always has a 50mm prime lens for portraiture as its shallow depth of field helps add a whole new level of artistic style to my photography. Lastly, I also always have a GoPro for any action related shooting or unpredictable terrain. Each of these cameras and/or camera/lens combinations have their own unique quirks that make me like them but in the end, I have to admit it is the ease of use. I have been shooting with a Sony DSLR for over five years and absolutely love its simple and clear user interface.
Where do you shoot most of your photos and what sort of photos do you like to take best?
I love showing the grandness in life, wherever it may be. I am based in Nairobi so a lot of my images are of the city but I am fortunate (or diseased, depending on how you look at it) to be able to give in to my wanderlust. My page is a collage of hikes through Tibet and missions through South Africa, faces from Baringo to footprints in Dubai, I give in to my eclectic nature and just let go. I best love taking wide sweeping images that instantaneously draws the viewer in instantaneously and even more as they explore the image. People, places, views and even animals are fair game to my lens as long as I can showcase them in a way to portray their magnificence.
What are your top tips for taking captivating Instagram photos?
Wow. What if I said point, shoot and pray? I am still trying to get better at this but from what I have managed to glean from my popular images against those not so popular is one or a combination of the following:
– Lead your viewer in, make them feel that they and the image are not separate, that they are gazing onto the scene with you.
– Since photography is the capture of light, use all available light to capture every colour, shade, contrast AND shadows so that your viewer can ‘feel’ the mood as much as the place
– Be different – we all see the same photos of Eifel Tower or The Taj Mahal, staring smack bang at you. Change your angle – go higher, go lower, go sideways, try and NOT shoot from the same angle as everyone else.
Which Instagrammers do you recommend everyone to follow?
I am a stickler for the belief that if your style usually imitates the people that inspire you. Photography, design, architecture are all examples of the influence of style and the marriage of that to form. Some of the Instagrammers I would recommend following are:
– @beautifuldestinations showcase images of truly wonderful destinations. If their page does not inspire your photography, it will at least fuel your wanderlust
– @routesadventure who not only have my dream job and make me green with envy with each post but do it with passion and a fire that is absolutely contagious. They are a group of young Kenyans, travelling and showcasing our country and beyond.
– @howfarfromhome are a travelling couple from South Africa who have been on the road FOREVER. Their posts including a trademark blackboard indicating the distance from their home. From Bali to Borneo, from Iceland to India you will have a constant rush going through their images.
How has Instagram influenced your profession and your business?
Instagram started as an outlet for my boredom while travelling to and from meetings within Africa. As my travels extended to the rest of our planet, I continued showcasing places I visit which slowly garnered following. As the following grew, it pushed me to better my photography. This brought with a sense of discipline in constantly striving for better, in my professional and personal life.
- Pokot villagers, Baringo, Kenya
In 2014 I ended a 14 year stint with one company. In those 14 years, I realised that a lot of my life had been on hold and a lot had become routine – I was predictable. My wife and I loaded our car the same day that I got home and without any plans or reservations, we drove out to see Kenya. We stayed in hotels, we stayed in lodges, we slept in the car, we camped on school grounds and in dry river beds, we got lost and loved it. One morning near Marigat, Baringo county, we woke up to some commotion. Turns out we had camped very close to a village and they were doing a welcome dance to invite us. My wife took a short video of them and the image you see shows their surprise at seeing themselves on video (maybe for the first time).
- Giving gratitude, Bagan, Myanmar
In the spirit of getting lost, my wife and I found ourselves in Bagan, Myanmar. An ancient kingdom with thousands of temple ruins. We would set out as early as 4am looking for secluded temples and catch the sunrise despite freezing temperatures – an almost Tomb Raider like affair. After a long day of searching for an awesome vista, we found the ideal viewpoint – a large temple secluded from the rest and set quite deep in a jungle. Once it got dark, we made our way through the ruins of the temple down from the terrace and were we were amazed and surprised to see that someone had lit prayer candles in the derelict temple. In the darkness of a 1500-year-old temple, we discovered that inner light is more important than outer light.
- Soaring like an eagle, Pokhara, Nepal
After driving around Kenya for 6 weeks, I trekked through India, Nepal and Tibet in 2014. Entry into Tibet was turning out to be a nightmare and required lengthy response times with nothing to do but wait it out in Kathmandu. On a whim, I left Kathmandu and visited Pokhara famous as the starting point for many hikes around the Himalaya range. Being pressed for time, I took a shortcut and booked an ultralight aircraft to fly over the Himalaya mountain range looking for an epic sunrise to write home about.
- Spread your wings, Kathmandu, Nepal
Observing birds flying to and away from the watering hole at the Boudhnath Stupa spurred the idea of capturing pigeons as they approach the hole. It took over 2 hours to gain the confidence of the birds and another 1 hour of shooting. After hours in the harsh midday sun, battling constant foot traffic and unpredictable birds made this possibly one of the hardest shots I have worked on.
- Old town, new look, Nairobi, Kenya
With the constant harassment and bullying by the Kenya police and Nairobi City Council, a few friends concluded it just was not worth showcasing Nairobi from the ground level. We started writing to building owners for permission to shoot from their rooftops. This gave us unique views of Nairobi, unique from the regular ones. At present despite the reduced access to rooftops, the hasthag #NightBandits is still regularly getting populated with unique rooftop images of Nairobi. When I composed this image, I was very sure that not many people would realise that this is their own city.