“The crowded, congested city roads can give a photographer a number of shots in every minute. Both the rural and the urban India can display the stunning vibrancy of different forms, colours, patterns and stories which will attract the street photographers across the globe.”
Swarat Ghosh (born in Kolkata) is a street photographer from India now living in Hyderabad.
“I love shooting photographs that are complex in composition and layered with multiple elements depicting stories.”
Interview with Swarat Ghosh
Swarat Ghosh, what was your most memorable moment shooting picture out on the streets?
“It’s very challenging to capture innocence as well as maturity in a one single frame.”
There are many such moments. But there is one which is very close to my heart and also got me lots of recognition, including “runner-up” at an international photo competition “Professions of the World”, organized by Alliance Francaise with participants from 73 countries.
The picture titled “Build up” tells about the expressions, moments and the story of a theatre artist known as “Smt. Padmaja Verma” from Surabhi theatre group.
That picture was candidly captured by me while she was applying make-up on her face. It’s very challenging as a photographer for me to capture the innocence as well as maturity in a one single frame. Hope I have done justice to that.
Why did you become a photographer and why street photography?
It’s probably accidental. I have been mostly influenced by my parents and sister who have always encouraged me to do best in my life. My passion in photography was discovered when my wife gave me a DSLR camera in 2010. Since then, I am nurturing this.
As an amateur, I used to take a lot of pictures without any particular knowledge of different genres of photography. But slowly started realizing my fascination for street photography when I came in touch of the website “That’s Life”, curated by one of the best contemporary street photographers in India, Mr. Kaushal Parikh.
The site features collective photographic contents from some great street photographers like Arindam Thokdar, Suyog Gaidhani, Prashant Godbole, Mark Cary, Amit Chakravarty, Prantik Mazumder, Krishnendu Saha.
I would also like to mention the names of Chirodeep Chaudhuri and Manu Thomas as my inspirations. In Hyderabad, again we have some great photographers like Mr. Kandukuri Ramesh Babu, Chandrasekhar Singh and Bhaskar Dutta.
Recently, two workshops, one is in Kokrajhar (Karkhana Photojournalism Workshops in North East India conducted by Vivek Singh, Srinivas Kuruganti, and Harsha Vadlamani) and the other in Mumbai on street photography by Eric Kim organized by Kaushal Parikh, helped me grow as a photographer.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to transmit with your pictures?
“The crowded, congested city roads can give a photographer a number of shots in every minute.”
For me photography is a medium with the help of which I can capture expression and story of the society we are living in. I can portray my country India as the “Mecca” for street photography throughout the globe. The crowded, congested city roads can give a photographer a number of shots in every minute.
Both the rural and the urban India can display the stunning vibrancy of different forms, colours, patterns and stories which will attract the street photographers across the globe.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
The contemporary photographer masters like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Alex Webb, and Raghu Rai. The work of Raghubir Singh has also encouraged me a lot.
“A photograph has picked up a fact of life, and that fact will live forever.”
What’s your favorite photography quote?
I believe in going close to people and capture them. So my work philosophy always support this quote of Robert Capa:
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
I really love to capture emotions, expressions and forms. Stories are also important for me to be captured on street but it’s the moment which is always precious which if missed never turns back.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
I always believe in lots of homework and study – and then practice. You will definitely commit mistakes, but we have to learn from those mistakes and nullify to the minimum and during this process we can build our own photo photographic style and identity.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
“Sometimes even the ‘moment’ is more important for me then telling a story.”
Technically I love capturing color as well as black and white images. In black and white I am always fond of high contrast images with little surrealistic effects. As of colors, I will always look forward to as much realistic as possible with “zero” post processing. I normally use 35mm prime lens and 10-24mm wide-angle lens for all my shoots.
Conceptually, I always look for complex frames with multiple layers finally telling a strong message or story. But again creating stories on street is very subjective. Sometimes even the “moment” is more important for me then telling a story.
What qualities and characteristics does a good street photographer need?
A street photographer always needs to be prompt always on his/her toes and yes needs to have great eyes to see the changes taking place in split seconds.
What does a photo need to be a great street shot?
A photo needs to immediately connect to the viewer. It has to be enticingly beautiful to hold viewer’s attention.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I draw inspiration from multiple sources like movies, books, music and many other photographer’s work.
What’s the biggest challenge shooting on the streets?
It’s all about the timing and observations. You have to nail the perfection to get the best out of the street. On the streets every day brings new challenge and you have to cope with that.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I create my photographs with Nikon D3000 with 35mm Nikkor prime lens and 10-24mm Tamron wide-angle.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I mostly follow these collectives: Magnum Photos, In Public, Invisible Photographer Asia, Burn Magazine, and Galli.
What photography book would you recommend?
There are many, but the two photography books I’m really fond of having in my library are “River of Colour” by Raghubir Singh and “Calcutta” by Raghu Rai.
Both books depict the true colors and essence of our country and there’s so much to learn looking at those photography books: compositions, forms, patters, colors, shadows and point of view.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a street photographer?
I don’t think I am the right person to give any tips or advice as I am learning the medium and consider myself an amateur, still from my limited experience i can say “keep it simple” on the streets and don’t get demoralized if you’re not getting perfect shots in a day. Just keep trying and honest to your work.
Finally thanks a lot to Kai Behrmann for publishing my work on “The Art of Creative Photography”.