Source: A&W Magazine

Kopal Goyal – Adventure Photographer, Climber & Filmmaker

Kopal Goyal – the first Indian female adventure sport photographer, and a Climber. Kopal Specializes in taking photos and Videos of the sport of Climbing.

Born in 1992, Kopal Goyal completed her basic schooling in Ranchi. After Schooling, She did her graduation in Mass communication, advertising and Journalism from Delhi where she picked up the art of Photography. And for one year, she worked with Network 18 group as a video editor and content writer. Her family lives in Bihar but she stays in Delhi for her work.

After quitting her job, she started preparing for Air Force entrance exam. While preparing for the exam, she got to know about climbing and got hooked on to it, and that’s how she entered into the world of climbing and adventure photography & she even got the chance to cover two IFSC Bouldering World Cup events too. She has also participated in competitive events, such as National Level championships 2016 in Lead & Bouldering. Kopal is enthusiastic about participating in the upcoming zonal level Climbing competitions.

Kopal recently made a Video with Abhishek Mehta, Speed climbing national champion, at  Badami, covering the Ganesha route 8B+ (5.14A), The hardest Route in India. She was belaying Abhishek and shooting the film at the same time. Belaying is the technique of holding the climbing rope for a climber so that they are safe if they fall off the rock.

Badami is a location that is a serene blend of old temples and hard adrenaline pumping sport climbs, any serious rock climber in India will tell you about the high density of hard sport routes in this place. One that stands out amongst them, is Ganesha. The Ganesha line established by French climber Alex Chabot is hailed as the hardest sport route of India with a difficulty of 8b+.

She used Minimum equipment while making the movie. One camera EOS 7d with very basic lenses, 55-250 mm and 18-55 mm lens, single battery and a tripod. This video got its space in some of the reputed magazines around the globe like Gripped magazine, Climbing magazine, Rock and ice magazine, UKC climbing magazines etc.

Kopal had to try multiple camera positions for the filming before actually starting the recording. On the day she arrived she took shots of the route from different points and different angle to figure out the best shooting points. She never had a script for this film but, was prepared mentally in the sense that she knew what to show in it. She knew that she had to blend both the climbing process and give a flavor of the local place. As if being the only person to shoot and belay in the heat was not enough, she had to deal with the mischievous monkeys around. She found some good vantage points to shoot the footage but the catch was that these points were also playground for the monkeys.

“After a lot of deliberation with Abhishek (the climber) I had decided to place the camera at a good vantage point while I belayed him. Not to my surprise a monkey did come near the camera and tried to mess up the shoot. I yelled up to Abhishek who despite being reluctant anchored himself and started making weird sounds to divert the monkey’s attention, so that I could  take hold of the camera.” Kopal says.

Kopal always wants to do unusual things in life. She says her biggest fear in life is regret. Adding to the point Kopal says “I follow my curiosity, my instinct, as it tells me to go to beyond my comfort zone. There’s an insatiable desire in me to explore with a camera in hand to try and capture a fleeting moment that encapsulates the soul of that place, person. So this enticed me into the world of adventure photography.”

Kopal adds “Adventure photography is quite challenging.  Especially when talking about climbing photography, it requires much skill and effort. Climbing is a challenging outdoor sport in itself. To photograph and make videos of the sport one needs to be ready to face a lot of specialized problems, but there is need to endure it with courage, and also be creative.” She says “One must be into climbing and must know how to hold your own body, different types of knots, which help you, work in relative safety; Safety comes first. You have to go to a height and climb areas which you generally avoid, and use different climbing apparatus. And there is also a lot of chance that you won’t get good pictures because you have to do many things at the same time, you rope up yourself, your camera, and your gadgets and then you shoot. But all these daring activities are worth it at the end. It is a fulfilling experience.”

For Kopal, what she does, really gives her a sense of satisfaction as she always wanted to do something different, unique which isolates her from the crowd. She says “After performing so many tasks at the same time, when you get good pictures, nothing gives me a more gratifying experience than this.”

Although Kopal hasn’t had any formal training especially for adventure photography; she picked up basics of photography from her course in Mass
communication and has been self learning since then. She follows a few adventure photographers and they are her inspiration. Talking about point of view, she is a climber too and participates regularly in indoor and outdoor climbing sessions in India. Learning Climbing has helped her to understand the point of view that a good adventure photograph demands. This really helps her to take more creative photos and videos of the sport. Kopal aspires to become a Professional Adventure Filmmaker & Photographer and is on her ascent to achieving it!