For many people, the definition of street photography is only limited to capturing human beings in public places. Even many young photographers think it that way. But, this definition is not entirely true. Street photography is something more than that. It is a way to tell stories; it is a way to connect with the audience and give them the feel of a place at a particular moment. A street photograph can have many things and presence of human beings is not always necessary. Today, we have with us Souradeep Roy, a young photographer from Kolkata and presently residing in Mumbai. Souradeep is a full-time photojournalist of Asian Photography magazine. Street photography holds a special place in his heart. In this session, the extremely talented photojournalist tells us his story. We hope this session would inspire many of you to add wings to your dreams!
Hi Souradeep, glad to have you with us today for a session. To begin with, please tell us a few lines about you.
I am a Journalism and Mass Communication graduate from Asutosh College, Kolkata and I am currently employed in Asian Photography magazine as a full-time photojournalist. I live in Mumbai and thoroughly enjoy working in this field.
How did you get into photography?
It all started when I got hold of my father’s camera. It was a film SLR and I had been given one roll to shoot. I was in school back then and I instantly fell in love with it. Later I was given a Kodak KB10, which I used for a few months. There was a long gap again after school as I got busy with new friends, new college and college politics. But I again started shooting from the second year of college and finally joined a photography course in Mumbai and I have never stopped since.
What makes street photography so special for you?
Street photography holds a special place in my heart because of its aimlessness. We all have an aim in whatever we do. We aim for good grades, a good job, a decent salary and increments and so on. But street photography, to me is all about not having an aim. Just carry your camera and walk. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. But that’s the beauty of it.
What according to you, is the ideal focal length range in street photography, and why?
Ideally, most people prefer to stay in between 35-70 range but some do prefer to go wider. But distortions do not make good street photos so it is best to avoid ultra wide lenses. I use a 16-50 standard lens for my photography.
Which camera do you presently use? How important are photography gears for you?
I use a Sony A6000 for my street photography as it is small and lightweight. I can easily hide it while walking and not many people take notice of it. Photography equipments compliment a photographer’s talent. While most would say equipment does not matter, I feel it is equally important. One can try to shoot a wildlife photo of a tiger up close with a cell phone and prove me wrong.
What is your idea behind a black and white photograph and a colour photograph? How do they reflect in your work?
I tend to go for black and white if the color elements are not adding anything to the frame. But I do prefer color, which is much more difficult to handle. Black and white is the easy way out.
Do you take up any project or plans and then go out and shoot accordingly, or just simply go out, without any such plan, and shoot?
Most of the times it just happens. If you feel that something would make a good photo story or something deserves more than one photo for the story to be told objectively you should just do it. But for most documentary photography projects I do have a basic idea of what I need to show through my work. I never pre-decide how I am going to show it.
Who is your favourite photographer and why?
It changes from time to time, changes with the kind of mood I am in, changes with the kind of book I am reading at the moment or the kind of music I am listening to etc. Currently, I find myself looking at Alex Webb’s work a lot.
What are some of the challenges photographing in the streets? How do you get rid of them?
Oh, there are a lot of challenges. First comes the overcoming of fear of photographing strangers. Then comes the ability to get out of sticky situations, smiling after taking a photo seems to help. Hiding the camera also is a challenge. Knowing what to shoot and what not to shoot is important as well.
Souradeep, how did you get into Asian Photography?
To get into any magazine or newspaper one needs a body of work. Once you have a good body of work, make a website and keep it. Job hunting in India is like a tiger hunting for food; it’s scarce and you have to take a leap of faith and fight for it. I took my chance.
What are some of the challenges you face in your position at Asian Photography? How do you tackle them?
The main challenge that one faces at a job like mine is to carry on with personal work. When you are shooting photographs for your office you tend to lose the interest to shoot for yourself. Keeping a habit of going out and shooting every now and then can be a refreshing change and it will help you concentrate and practice the trade that gets you money for food and shelter.
And, one last question of this session Souradeep, if you have had one wish…
If I had one wish I would not change a thing in my life; I love the direction my life is headed. So, I guess I would go with world peace or something.