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Interview with Pushkar Raj Sharma

“One has to be creative, original in the idea.

I barely use art on walls or posters as juxtapositions – that’s simply not me!”

Pushkar Raj Sharma

Street Photography in India by Pushkar Raj Sharma: A man standing underneath the blinds of a shop
© Pushkar Raj Sharma

Pushkar Raj Sharma, what does photography mean to you and what do you want to transmit with your pictures? Has that changed over the years?

It’s the fresh perspective to life that photography has given me that now matters a lot. It’s like a pulse, ticking within every time.

There are breaks, but urge to back to street and shoot more and more gets even stronger. I wish to depicts daily life and its moments that only I see through my eyes.

What fascinates you especially about street photography?

It’s the uniqueness that fascinates me the most. It feels and definitely it is like “for my eyes only moments” that no one else can repeat on street.

Life surrounding us offers so much weirdness, emotions, humor that it’s only possible to capture some of it through your photographs.

Street photography is such a broad genre, difficult to put a label on. What’s your definition and approach of street photography?

My approach to street photography is simple. Just tell it like it is!

I just wish to capture and showcase what I see in daily life. Fresh perspectives from other street photographs helps me to see a lot better.

I am a very social person. It’s very easy to connect with me and hence I easily mingle in street and just shoot the hell out of it.

I go close and I am not afraid to put camera in the face of a stranger. Of course there are ideas in my mind on how and what to shoot.

Generally a short term project or series that I wish to showcase .

You just finished your project “Half Dark Worlds”. What is it about?

My project showcases how this darkness co-exist in nature and within us, that it creates, so meaningful and aesthetic moments, and that it seems to actually complete the life and the moments around us, without which, a life hard to imagine.

Which photographer has inspired you most? Why?

The list can go on forever. Alex Webb and Harry Gruayert are on the top of the list.

Their unique sense of life and the final edit (putting a narrative together) is just out of this world.

In Delhi, Vineet Vohra and Rohit Vohra are dreamers one should definitely follow them.

Maciej Dakowicz, from whom I learnt street photography and did a workshop with him in 2014. He has unique style of showcasing moments. I love it.

To what extent do you think it’s beneficial to look and learn from other photographers’ work? And how does one avoid falling into the trap of just imitating someone else’s vision?

I don’t think street photography can be repeated. Yes one has to get inspiration as going to street time and again will get you a mental block. To overcome this block, fresh perspectives, ideas are important.

This is where learning from others help. Stick to your own style, be original on street.

What’s your favorite photography quote?

“99% of street photography, if not more, is about failure.”

Alex Webb

How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?

I see my self getting close to daily life, trying more emotive and meaningful photographs that last much longer than gimmicky ones.

I wish to see them much longer maybe in a book from a lifetime. I do not wish to depict gimmick of forced perspectives etc.

One has to be creative, original in the idea.

I barely use art on walls, posters etc. as juxtapositions – that’s simply not me!

What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?

Time tells you everything. Just have the urge to go back again and again.

What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?

It has to be the concept. Techniques goes at the back of the artist after a certain time.

In street photography everything happens so fast and you only have a fraction of a second to capture the action or scene. How can you prepare to be ready? What techniques are there to react quickly and adequately whenever you see a fleeting moment you want to capture?

Its’ the sense. As I said and you have rightly pointed out, it’s all happening so fast and out there.

One cannot capture everything. Sometimes I see a moment that I wanted to capture but could not, but I cherish the fact that I saw that moment and its now gone forever.

If you like the scene stick to it. It’s definitely worth shooting that scene inside out until the actors part away and the scene is gone.

Working the scene is the most important point I gained and learnt in my workshop with Maciej.

What are your preferred settings on your camera? Aperture priority? Shutter speed?

I can shoot P mode with set ISO in shade. In sunlight, I always go manual.

I prefer manual most of the times.

Have you ever experienced motive fatigue? How have you overcome it?

I have mentioned it earlier, one needs fresh perspectives, inspiration to go back and shoot.

Street as Alex Webb pointed out and I think everybody would agree is all about failure.

You will be disappointed in street.

Books are integral part of my inspiration. I love them. I go through them time and again to overcome this mental block that I have.

How do you get into the flow? Are there moments when you are unable to photograph? If yes, what are they?

Yes, there are disturbing moments on street always.

Many times it’s just not your day. Luck plays a crucial role. But one has to be ready for serendipity that life offers on street.

Working a scene that I like helps me getting into the flow.

What role does post-production play for you?

Oh this is toughest part! I am poor at edit. I just wish I could edit like Alex Web and Harry Gruyaert.

I hope by post production you mean edit and not photoshop?

What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?

Willingness to go back time and again. Ability to learn from others. Being original and fail at it and not simply copy others.

What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?

It’s the connect. If audience can connect to your photograph, I think it was successful.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?

Definitely books are my biggest inspiration. Social media and other fellow street photographers that do a great job.

What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?

I am a one camera one lens guy. I use a nikon D610 with 35mm AFD F2. I wish to go on smaller camera though in future, if my pocket allows.

What’s been the most useful gadget you’ve purchased recently?

I don’t believe in buying gadgets for photography. I like to keep it simple. Buy books, not gear.

Are there any photo-apps you use? Which ones?

Instagram is now my favourite for social media.

What was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?

Mumbai, 2014. When I learnt street photography with Maciej.

It was an eye opener. I highly recommend his workshops.

What’s your favorite website about photography?

There can not be one. I do not follow much websites. Just some people on social media.

What photography book would you recommend?

By Alex Webb. Wish I had money to own all of them.

My recent buy “Hot Lights/Half Made Worlds” is one of the finest I have ever seen. Some more on the list:

“Banaras” by Raghubir Singh

“Gypsies” by Josef Koudelka

“La Calle” by Alex Webb

Harry Gruyaert

“The Suffering of Light” by Alex Webb

Which advice would you give someone who’s just starting as a photographer?

Do not fear to fail or have fear of not achieving perfection. There will never be perfection in a creative field like photography.

There will always be more! And be original. Be who you are.

Shoot for yourself, not for others.

Street Photography in India by Pushkar Raj Sharma: A small boy is playing behind two men sitting on a wall
© Pushkar Raj Sharma
Street Photography in India by Pushkar Raj Sharma: Two girls dancing happily
© Pushkar Raj Sharma
Street Photography in India by Pushkar Raj Sharma: Silhoutte of a man walking in the shadow
© Pushkar Raj Sharma

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