Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence)

Isa Khan

Photographer, economics teacher, travel influencer – Isa Khan

The age of Instagram has thrown up some really talented individuals – people with a penchant for the right content and great image quality. However, only a few make it to a level of popularity as Isa Khan has. With over 40k followers, this travel influencer possesses photography and editing skills that draw people to his profile. Add to that his candid captions that are almost poetic. We were awed by his stunning content and decided to finally get to know the dapper man behind it. Here’s our conversation with him, one that felt as easy as talking to a friend.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am an economics teacher with a Bachelor degree in business, landscape photographer in love with the Himalayas and a trained theatre artist. I have also starred in some TV commercials and also a web series. Basically, I am someone who follows his heart. I only do what I’m passionate about. Anything else is not sustainable for me.

Photographer, theatre actor, economics teacher, travel influencer. How are you juggling all of these things?

Well, these are all highly diversified streams, none are closely linked to each other. And although making the time for everything is challenging, I think the simple answer is that I love each and every of those things. I teach because I love teaching and interacting with kids. Most of what I do comes naturally to me. Hence, it doesn’t seem too demanding because I actually want to do those things, not that I have to.

Isa Khan

Isa during his theatre days

How did you venture into travel blogging? How often do you travel?

I am not really a blogger, more of an influencer. My first trekking experience was 5 years back and it was a complete disaster. Even though I might have been physically fit, I was not mentally prepared for it and I swore to never go on another trek. However, about 3.5 years back, I went through a rough phase in my personal life and decided that I needed to leave my comfort zone behind. I took off on a solo trek to Kheerganga and fell in love. It was around this time that I caught onto Instagram and noticed people going on the same treks that I had been to and posting some amazing pictures. I decided that I could do it too. I started with an Honor phone  and joined the Instagram bandwagon. Thereafter, I borrowed a DSLR from a friend and scoured the internet for lessons. It was only after I got better that I bought my first camera, a Canon that I still use. Now I try to do 1-2 treks a month. Within 15-20 days of coming back from a trek, I start itching to go back.

Isa Khan

Isa on his travels

Was there any defining moment of your self-taught journey to becoming a better photographer? 

I was travelling to Spiti with my brother-in-law – a professional photographer. That was my first tryst with what actually goes into photography when you do it professionally. Uptil then, I was only shooting what caught my eye. But with him, I realized how much work actually goes into getting the perfect shot. A photographer’s job is not just to take pictures – it is to compose a scene, visualize it in your head and set it up for the perfect shot. It is not as much about shooting the photo as much as about the thought process behind it. That completely changed the ball game for me and I tried to incorporate it into my photography as well. 

Having been completely self-taught, can you offer any advice to budding photographers?

Well, apart from the technique in theory, which one can simply not do without, it is only practice that counts. The only advice I can give is that there is no alternative to hard work. You want to be better? Work for it. Practice practice practice.

Your captions are thoughtful and deep. It says a lot about your personality. Does travelling make you more introspective? What do you do to fuel that side of you?

I was actually never a writer and to be honest, it doesn’t come naturally to me. It is somewhat an imposition of Instagram that makes me write these captions. However, very rarely do I think of captions while posting something. Most of them are my leading thoughts on random days. I carry a notebook and write down the fleeting thoughts that come to my mind. Of course, being in the mountains is immensely helpful and makes one introspect a lot. Apart from that though, there’s really nothing special that I do. It’s only after travelling that I could write this much.

Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 1

Isa has some beautiful and thought-provoking captions

If you had to choose to spend the rest of your life in one place only, which place would it be and why?

Har ki Dun or Kashmir. Maybe Sonmarg in Kashmir. Har ki Dun is especially breathtaking during the monsoon and autumn months. Actually winter too.

How we feel about a place depends a lot on the experiences we have there. I remember a beautiful evening in Sonmarg, playing cricket with some friends. It started raining later. It was an experience that just stuck.

Sonmarg

Sonmarg – One of Isa’s favourite places

Have you ever faced any mishaps on your travels? What have they taught you?

I have of course, faced a lot of challenges. No real mishaps though. There was this one time when I gave in to an Instagram follower and accompanied him on the Dodital Trek. He was a beginner and much slower than me. I had planned to reach Dodital by evening as it isn’t safe to trek after sunset. However, I did not account for his slow pace and we ended up having to spend the night 5 km before Dodital in a deserted Chhaani. Chhaanis are little brick huts that villagers build to store things. However, in the winter, they descend a little and the huts remain empty. We were carrying no tents or sleeping bags and had to make do with some old mattresses that were luckily left behind. 

In the middle of the night, we heard some sounds like an animal opening a packet and eating something. We were in the middle of a jungle and miles away from civilization. It scared us out of our minds as encountering a bear or wolf was not uncommon. We could only sleep peacefully in the morning when some Forest Department Officials told us that they were probably hibernating rats.

Thereon, I decided to be better prepared while trekking and to only accompany people whose pace matched my own. 

Trekking twice a month, how do you manage your expenses? Give our readers some tips to travel on a budget.

It’s actually quite manageable. I trek on my own, not with organized groups. One can complete an entire trek within Rs. 6,000-8,000. And this is Delhi to Delhi, all inclusive. You just have to be smart and not opt for luxuries. Try to take public transportation from Delhi. Also, given the nature of treks, there really isn’t anything one could spend on. Negotiate with the locals for porters or guides. The entire budget is nothing compared to a trip to say, Andamans. 

Where have you eaten the best food of your life? 

(laughs) I’m actually not a foodie at all. The only two things I am fond of are Biryani and mangoes. I do try to taste all local delicacies but for the most part, my taste buds are inactive.

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Testimonials

Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 4

"

Thank you very much to you and your team for arranging this fantastic tour. One of the best pick from this tour was your meticulous planning and promptness of service. All arrangements were fantastic, be it a delivery of vehicle at Chandigarh airport, hotels particularly at Chandigarh, Leh, Nubra, Pangong. However the best was at Jispa, Kargil and Srinagar for different reasons. Jispa was simple but authentic with very tasty food.

Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Rajesh & Gauri Natu

Graphic Designer, Apple

Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 6

"

Sunil, after I ran 21k Marathon I bragged about it for years. The same is being repeated again, with my ambition to drive across the Himalayas, which was almost faded with Srinagar under curfew. You and Chetan were the spark to our fire that we could do this drive and without a single trouble. Driving is a passion but driving thru places where there are no roads is trouble, but your breakup of program and awesome car condition helped us actually sail thru. Three cheers and five stars.

Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 7

Jignesh Shah

Absolute Networks, Mumbai

Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 8

"

Wow. wow, wow. What a experience! We took the route of Delhi - Jammu - Srinagar - Leh - Sarchu - Manali - Delhi.  Sunil Kapoor gave us excellent service which includes his next to new 4WD in immaculate condition and all hotels were top class. Coming from Australia, we were bit nervous in start but when we met Sunil, we had full trust and all went very positive. Sunil gave us perfect instructions and everything was according to plan. Thank you Sunil and your team for our one of the best experience in life you have provided us. 

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Jignesh Patel

Director, Webential, Australia

Sumudu Fernando Manali Leh Trip

"

Eight of us from Sri Lanka got Sunil to arrange a self driven tour to Leh and we are very happy with our decision. He was punctual, trustworthy and met our expectations. The service provided was very professional. As foreigners it’s hard to arrange such a tour by ourselves and Unwind outdoor filled in the gap perfectly. All places we stayed were nice and decent. Should specifically mention about the two Scorpios which we instantly fell in love with. They were very well maintained ... 

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Sumudu Fernando

Friends from SriLanka

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"

After days of research, we finally came across a facebook page called ‘Unwind Outdoors’. It seemed like our dream was going to be finally true. Very reasonably priced and Sunil from Unwind was like a know-it-all person.

The itinerary was so crisp and so very well laid out that there was no reason for us to worry other than coping up with nature’s fury. 

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Priyadatta Prabhavalkar

Clifford Chance, Delhi

Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 13

"

We did a SUV self drive trip from Chandigarh to Ladakh and back organized by Unwind Outdoor.
Highly recommend Unwind Outdoor as Sunil and Manpreet took care of everything we needed (car, hotel bookings, sightseeing and food recommendations, permits) and everything was organized seamlessly. Sunil was very patient with all our queries, giving suggestions and options to suit our preferences.

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Ashish & Neha Thadani

KPMG, Bangalore

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"

Great to see the know-how of the Unwind Outdoor team regarding every aspect of the Srinagar - Leh - Chandigarh self drive trip. From weather conditions, to road conditions, to health/clothing requirements, and also driving instructions - Sunil and Manpreet are warm, meticulous and knowledgable. Villa Himalaya in Sonamarg surpassed all our expectations and ensured that our expected standards for the rest of the trip were extremely high. 

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Parth Deshmukh

Symbiosis Law School, Mumbai

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"

Thanks Sunil for arranging a wonderful trip. Everything went well and we were in good hands with friendly and competent drivers. Accommodation was good and tents were comfortable beyond our expectations. We didn't have problem with food choices. It was a totally rejuvenating vacation and experience for us. Thanks from us in Singapore!

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Lilian Chan

Singapore

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"

We had an amazing 9-day from Manali to Leh. Serene, breathless and picturesque. High altitude sickness was a big issue for us but we were in good hands.

Unwind Outdoor was superb in arranging and coordinating the trip. Taking care of all arrangements and checking-in on us. Kudos to Sunil and his team.

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Alvin Chia

Assistant Director, Jurong Town Corporation, Singapore

Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 21

"

We travelled as a couple & completed a self drive trip from Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-Nubra-Pangong-Tso Moriri-Sarchu-Manali-Delhi. Itinerary was meticulously designed to be a mix of adventure and comfort. Hotel choices were best. Support was available at all points in case of emergency.Vehicle provided was top notch. Thanks to Mr. Sunil Kapoor for personally putting in efforts to maintain such high standards. 

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Nikhil & Neha Mazumdar

Manager L&T, Mumbai

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Six of us (two families) travelled to Leh in Jul / Aug 2015 and we had an excellent experience with Unwind Outdoor. From the very beginning of our excited planning phase, Sunil has been willingly suggesting us options, number of days, places to visit etc. He has all the knowledge of the terrain, passionate about trekking and traveling himself, so he understands travel-crazy people such as me and my quirks.
We landed in Leh in time for cloudbursts and flashfloods and landslides (along with mud and rocks sliding too). Despite Nature's fury, Sunil and Skarma made sure we were utmost safe and comfortable. These guys are just not into travel business, they help people fulfil their travel dreams. Truly! Go guys!!

Read more on  Soul Speak with Isa Khan (Travel Influencer & Photographer par excellence) 5

Kamala Aithal

Barclays Bank, Bangalore

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