True to the spirit of traveling, Rohit Chawla is a modest man. When we reached out to him for an interview for our “Featured Traveler of the Fortnight”, Rohit said, “I’m a very simple man, with my own little venture. Everything is very small scale, very home grown. ‘Beliefs’, ‘Philosophies’, ‘Brand’, all feel like very big words at times and do make me a little nervous.” But that’s what Rohit has to say. CoSurvivor has done some phenomenal work with travel and photography and has become a name many enthusiasts recognize instantly. As a brand, “CoSurvivor is still work in progress, very new, very fresh,” says Rohit. In this interview, we talk about Rohit’s inspiration, work and a lot more.
Prrems: Hello Rohit, tell us about CoSurvivor. How did the name come about and how did it all start?
Rohit: The name CoSurvivor, came up around 2009. It wasn’t initially intended to be a company or brand name, it was just my screen name on the photography site - flickr, where I had just started to put up some of my first travel pictures. The thought behind the name was just - who am I - in the simplest terms. What is the life I live or want to be living. I think of each one of us as a survivor… not in terms of any struggle to stay alive, but simply the act of being alive, staying alive...surviving is an everyday reality. We are all survivors, of our own evolutions, what makes us what we are today...co-existing together in our physical 3-dimensional reality on one planet. Each one of us, co-survivors, every being, every plant, every animal, bird...each, an individual expression of the one nature that creates us...living, breathing, existing together. Co-Existence, Co-Surviving...the thought is about living in harmony, in harmony with the nature all around, and with each other.
Eventually, I decided to operate my travel work (arranging trips) with the same name as all our travels bring forth the same spirit- Harmony, co-existence, mutual love and respect with all nature, wildlife and people of all culture. To travel with minimal impact, keeping our footprint as invisible as possible, are some of the things we'd like to stand for
Prrems: What is your major source of inspiration?
Rohit: In the simplest of terms, it’s the discovery of a deep passion for mother nature and all the magic she creates. I strive to see and experience as much of this magic as I can first hand, and showcase it to the best of my abilities. You can say that it has become a purpose of life, the driving force.
Prrems: How do you look at the overlap between travel and photography?
Rohit: My photography started with the simple intention of wanting to show people the places where I organize my trips in the Himalayas. Back in 2007-08, I was setting up a Himalayan travel company, and started taking pictures just to show people all our destinations. Slowly, my time with the camera and all the fun I was having with it kept growing, and as I kept getting better, opportunities started coming up. By 2010, it became a crazy passion, like a child discovering a new exciting thing. Since then, the passion has only gotten intense and I’ve got a lot of appreciation for it.
In relation to travel, over time, it has developed as sort of a mutual support system. It’s what I call my beautiful business model, that has evolved into something that’s working really well for me. I think of photography as my "karma" and "dharma", as though a task given to me by mother nature herself.
Prrems: Tell us a bit more about this beautiful business model.
Rohit: I travel as much as I can and showcase as much as I can through all my online networks. My "job" is to make sure that every month, thousands of people see my pictures. Out of these thousands of people, 10 or 12 or 15 every month get in touch with me and ask me questions like "Can you take me there?" or "Can you show me that sunset?" It’s a thoroughly enjoyable business development model. For roughly 6 months a year, I work as a travel organizer and then I use that money for the rest of the year to keep making myself a photographer, keep discovering something new.
Prrems: What is it that you seek with each of your pictures?
Rohit: It’s a simple thought so deep in my heart, that I even have it up on my website - "Nature is a magician in all that it creates and photographs are to showcase the magic.”
Every scene I have ever captured is like a vision in my mind. From there on, it’s a backward process, using all my skills with photography, understanding of light and processing techniques to recreate that vision, that magic for the viewers to connect with. Hopefully, with these pictures, there can be a deeper appreciation of all the magic around.
Prrems: What's on your travel wish list?
Rohit: I could fill up a few pages here, and a whole lifetime would fall short. Of course there’s still a whole lot of the Himalayas to see- Om Parvat and Mount Kailash are big dreams, making timelapses all around these mountains. Outside of the Himalaya, I'm working hard towards making sure I see the northern lights in 2014, that’s the first on this list.
Prrems: Any advice to youngsters who're ready to explore the world!
Rohit: Very cliche! (laughs) Life is short and there is a whole lot see and experience. What anybody else thinks of you is none of your business! Be true to yourself, live with passion and with self belief, then the universe is abundant.