Senior Abhishek Thomas poses the way he would take photos. He said he enjoys taking photos at every place he goes to as it allows him to meet new people.
Senior Abhishek Thomas poses the way he would take photos. He said he enjoys taking photos at every place he goes to as it allows him to meet new people.
Caleb Wright

One click at a time

Senior shares memories through photography passion

Senior Abhishek Thomas scrolls through the array of photos he captured, his finger clicking through each one. He waits patiently for a response from people he has taken photos for as he displays the memories he produced using his camera. 

Thomas is going into his second year of pursuing photography as of November. Throughout this experience, Thomas said he is looking to gain more experiences and meet new people to one day bring him to a financially free position. Photography has already given many opportunities as he has traveled to make tightly composed and edited photography.

“[I started photography when] I had my first crush,” Thomas said. “I thought she was really beautiful, so I wanted to capture that. One time, I took a really bad photo of her, because I didn’t know how to use a camera, and she absolutely hated it. [Afterwards, that was] when I started getting interested in how to take photos [and] how to [get] good angles.”

Senior Aliamsal Abtulali has been friends with Thomas since before kindergarten and said that photography has become a part of him. He said Thomas’s personality bleeds into his photography.

“[When] he goes to a party, he always brings his camera around,” Abtulali said. “Everywhere he goes, he’s taking pictures [and] he’s editing. The way he gets on something and he keeps doing it — he doesn’t let anything stop him. He doesn’t let anyone define him.”

Caption: This was taken during Thomas’s time in one of the 38 districts in Tamil Nadu. It shows a visual representation of an elephant mahouts (trainer) taking a bath with its Kumki (trained elephant) apprentice. (Provided by Abhishek Thomas)

Before Thomas initially got into photography, he planned a trip for this past summer that started in New York. From there, he headed to France and Dubai for a short time. Then, when he arrived in India, he went from North to South Kerala and Mumbai. Finally, he ended his trip by going back to Dubai. Thomas planned this trip after becoming heavily invested in his parents’ culture from a small village in Kerala, India, during COVID-19. He saw the trip as something he not only just wanted to do, but needed to do. During his time in India, he joined a Kumki elephant organization that helped to train elephants. 

“My [elephant’s] name was Madhra,” Thomas said. “I would sleep in a tree for two days just to be next to that elephant, take her to the bathroom or comfort her if she felt sad — that was one of the most beautiful things. Taking photos for that entire two week environment was the most jaw dropping thing because elephants [have the most] emotional connections with human beings, and it’s so beautiful to see that.”

Some of the events Thomas has attended for photos include garba (a Hindu dance festival), his local church events and basketball team matches. Thomas said his most influential post came from an event he attended for one basketball match during a sports tournament at the Marthoma Church of Dallas. He said it challenged him to work with what he had visually.

One of the photos Thomas took while at the tournament he was attending for his friends on Aug. 11-12. The photo was included alongside an assortment of others from the game, which ended up amassing over 223 likes and 39 comments. (Provided by Abhishek Thomas)

“My equipment has always been kind of terrible, but at the time I was like, OK, I can do this,’” Thomas said. “I [had] just bought a 50 millimeter lens, [which is] not the best lens to use for action photography, but my brother always told me to challenge myself. So, I [took] photos with [only that] lens, got up close and personal with a lot of people [and] took photos. From that post, I got so much love and feedback. I’ll never forget that. I got so [many] connections from that event.”

Thomas originally started taking photos on old vlog cameras before transitioning to a DSLR. His biggest advice for people who want to start taking photos is to not worry about the equipment you have and just start taking photos. 

“I’m new to photography, so he had to teach me and was really open to [it],” senior Sai Chauhan said. “He let me have his camera for the night, which was just cool [that] he trusted me with that. I got to connect with people the same way he does.”

Thomas said one of his favorite things about capturing photos is how it allows him to meet new people and create opportunities to talk with the people he photographs. For Abtulali, the pictures that Thomas creates when they are together are more than just photos; they are memories.

“You look back at it, you see the pictures, you see yourself, you see him and you see us having fun in the moment,” Abtulali said. “Last year, during Christmas, he had a little digital camera, took some pictures and then on Christmas Day, he gave me a present — turns out it was a picture of us that he took. When he gave me that picture, it [showed] friendship.”

Photography is something Thomas wishes to pursue past high school, but he said he has doubts about making a career out of his passion. Thomas said he struggles with charging people for the photos he takes as he does not believe in that. Despite his challenges, Thomas does see himself continuing photography, even if it would take him a long time to build a career. 

“I am in a position where I am stuck between what I want to do,” Thomas said. “[I might] pursue a job in CPS, social work or join law enforcement and become a detective. It’s not something I’m 100% [sure] I want to do because there are different doors for me, and I want to see where that takes me. Hopefully, photography is one of them.”

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