Most of us spend our lives living for the moment, without feeling the thrill of an exotic experience. But there are some people who make the best of their time, who make it a priority to find out what their true calling is – one who puts their skills to good use. One such person would be Thalath Mohamed, born to the town of Hithadhoo, in Addu City
Thalath has always experienced a heightened interest in art. While the universe and the secrets hidden in it was the cynosure of his thoughts, it baffled him, and eventually drove him to seek tangible answers. His quest for the truth eventually led him to the night sky; where he photographed what would ultimately become his identity. The result of his first astrophoto: a stunning cluster of stars; and since then, there has been no turning back for this amazing photographer.
With a humble beginning as a waiter at a reputed resort, it was hard for Thalath to find time for his photography hobby. He started simple, with a regular point-and-shoot camera to capture sunsets and artistic occurrences. Finding time for his art during off hours simply wasn’t enough for Thalath – and it wasn’t long before he realized how life had fast tracked 4 years, yet here he was still waiting tables. The fear of wasting his whole life amidst a regular career made him distraught. This phase also proved to be a major turning point – Thalath wanted to live life doing what he loved, so he took the brave step of resigning from his tenure at the resort. It was during this time, that he settled on the idea of pursuing a career as a full time photographer.
Unlike most of his peers, he researched his way through the skill of capturing photography first, and considers himself a self-taught photographer. But it’s Thalath’s skills at astrophotography that made him a hit favorite locally and gained him rapid international exposure online. According to Thalath, it was during his time studying the skills of astrophotography, that led him to dive deeper to learn the history of our galaxy, it’s stars and coming to terms with how our Sun is actually a giant big “star”.
Today, Thalath is able to pin-point the angle at which the “Milky Way” could appear, without the need for any software or apps – a skill that’s no easy feat. According to him, there are countless apps such as “Star Map”, available on Apple handsets that can aid in shooting the “Milky Way”, but says he has no use for any. His countless hours shooting the stars has today given him complete freedom to go manual. He reminisces on how he relied on the automatic settings of his entry level Nikon D3100 back in the day – but said that with practice anything is easy to perfect.
“At first, I did not even know what an SLR camera is. But then, I bought a used camera and binged on photography tutorials on Youtube,”
With astrophotography being his lead unique selling point, a jump to the much in-demand Portrait Photography market turned to be an excellent career move. Adjusting the shutter speed and finding the correct lighting and exposure is all in days’ work to him, drastically improving the time required to shoot a good picture. The current kit which he uses, a Nikon D610 with 70-200mm, 20mm and a 28mm of f 2.8, along with a 50mm f 1.8 lens, are the beasts through which he’s gained thousands of followers across the Maldives and around the world.
Thalath describes his first shot of a “shooting star” as a great achievement. He also considers taking the photo of an extremely rare occurrence, the “Comet Lovejoy” with just a 50mm f 1.8 lens, a huge accomplishment as an upcoming astrophotographer.
Apart from being the top astrophotographer in the Maldives, Thalath is also slowly taking the top spot as a reputable freelance portrait photographer. His outdoor photographs are equally commendable to his astrophotographs – making him one of the most versatile photographers in the country. Today, he generates more than the average income, and is grateful to be able to fully support himself doing what he loves. His photography services are not just limited to the Addu region, but stretches to all parts of the country, depending on time available on his usually booked out schedule.
The secret to his success, according to Thalath, is working on client satisfaction. He credits his success to keeping prices at a reasonable minimum, and working hard to get that “perfect” shot no matter how much time it takes. He also believes a positive word-of-mouth can account for a long way in gaining new clients.
Thalaths advice to those interested in astrophotography, is to first keep their camera kits aside and to take time to learn the skills required first. He stressed on the importance of getting hold of the basics first and how countless free resources available online can help anyone. Thalath also added that if one is interested in astrophotography, they should be willing to travel and scout for a great location – as the scenery on the land is as important as the vast night sky above us.