Indian travel and landscape photographer Debraj Chakraborty hails from the country’s beautiful state of Assam. In his earlier days, he was a landscape painter. After getting into the business of IT equipments, he was left with less time to carry forward his hobby as a painter. Debraj Chakraborty’s love for art, however, didn’t die. He started exploring different avenues which could become a great medium to present his artistic expressions to the entire world. A few years later, Debraj discovered his love for photography and started pursuing it seriously. As a landscape photographer, the fleeting light together with extreme and moody atmosphere attracts him the most!
Today in this interview session with conflatingVisions, Debraj Chakraborty joins us from Silchar, Assam to share his inspiring journey as a travel and landscape photographer. We hope this conversation will motivate many of you to pursue photography more seriously!
Hi Debraj, glad to have you with us today. To start with, we would request you to say a few lines about yourself.
I am Debraj Chakraborty, a Landscape and Travel Photographer based out of Sichar in Assam. Initially, I was a landscape painter and my preoccupation with the business of IT equipments presented me with a shortage of time to pursue my hobby as a painter. Later by coincidence, the camera was the medium of my artistic expression most available to me, so I happen to be a photographer. In landscape photography, the fleeting light together with extreme and moody atmosphere is what attracts me the most!
Is this how you got into photography?
Well as I said before coincidence is what made me select photography as a way for my artistic expression. To elaborate it further I am in the trade to sell IT and Electronic equipments and selling camera was a part of my business. To be a good salesman one has to understand the equipment better that he is selling. Soon my quest into the unknown voyage of photography began.
The more I went deeper, it opened up a whole new world in front of me. Soon I started to realize that landscape photography can bring me back the joy of that artistic expression which I was missing for years.
Did you have any mentor who helped you in your journey as a photographer?
Yes, I do have mentors and photographers who inspired me till now in my journey. I hope they will continue to do so till I am able to pursue this hobby of mine rather would like to call it ‘Passion on mine’ now.
What else do you like the most about this travel and landscape photography genre?
The best thing about being a travel and landscape photographer is the large number of opportunities it allows to grow one as a photographer. It doesn’t matter if you are shooting in your hometown or have gone somewhere abroad where you can photograph portraits, cityscapes, nature and storytelling images.
Being a travel and landscape photographer is a unique experience in its own right. In the process, one meets plenty of interesting people, hear amazing stories, visit locales outside tourist maps tucked away from the madding crowd, and see wildlife in its glory. All these experiences not just help us to evolve as a better photographer but also enjoy the greatest gift we got from the Almighty to be born as humans.
What according to you makes an outstanding landscape photograph?
We are unlikely to long remember the smell and buzz of wild flowers in summer, the awe of gazing for the first time at the mountain we intend to climb, the caress of a tropical breeze, the gushing cascade in a tropical forest, or the adrenaline of cashing storm to photograph it. Our photographs need to bring these and other sensations back, to trigger our memories, and to communicate how we felt to others. To do this, we need to think and feel as much as look when setting out to make photographs an outstanding one.
Who are your inspirations in the field of photography? Did their works influence your style of photography in any way?
My initial inspirations were American landscape photographers. I was just awestruck seeing their images for the first time on the internet. Seeing those images I could imagine what is possible in landscape photography.
To name them it was Mark Adamus, Ryan Dyar, David Thompson and also an Indian photographer whose unconventional work influenced me a lot is Dhritiman Mukherjee. Though he is more into wildlife photography but his approach towards the portrayal of things influenced me a lot.
Yes, their work influenced me a lot but I don’t like to copy individual styles rather my work is a Frakenstine out of all styles that have influenced me over years and has become my own style.
How do you plan before going for a shoot?
Research is the key to prepare for a day’s shooting in a location. Lots of things have to be taken into account before I go out and shoot. This helps to figure out what’s there, what the place is about, how the light will be and what subjects I need to cover. I read brochures and travel books. I go to libraries, bookstores, or onto the Web. Also, I talk to friends who have been there. Finding whatever I can that is relevant helps me a lot.
After I am done with research I try to reach the destination well in advance with only those photographic gears I intend to shoot with. I am not in favour of lugging around with all gear that I have. Typically I carry two bags one big that has all my camera gear with laptop and accessories and a small one which I pack according to my days shoot plan leaving back the bigger once where I put up. Clothing wise I try to be comfortable not wearing something that is very gaudy helps me in blending well with the crowd or locales and packing in stuff like a rain cover, torchlight, etc gives me peace of mind where my thoughts are channelized not to save equipment rather to focus on composition.
Which are some of your favourite landscape destinations and why?
I love to shoot water in different forms. It may be seascape, waterfall, river or a high altitude lake. A favourite destination near my hometown is Meghalaya with numerous spectacular waterfalls and I make it a point to visit it each year during monsoon. The Western Coast of India is again a favourite destination with amazing rock patterns in its coastline.
Any upcoming travel plan?
I keep on visiting Meghalaya so maybe I will make a couple of visits more to Meghalaya this year and apart from that not planned any major travel plan this year for my involvement in other engagements.
Please share your tips for making good landscape photographs.
I am listing here few qualities which a landscape photographer must possess to make a good landscape photograph.
Passion – One needs to be obsessed with getting the shot how he has envisioned no matter how hard he had to try. Because I believe luck only favours those who work hard.
Patience – Patience pays one back in a big way by allowing to capture best of moment and light which cannot be replicated ever.
Inspire – One needs to have the capability to inspire people to travel to a destination with his photograph because little extra effort taken then the next guy will make his image standout from the rest and hence inspire.
Sleep anywhere – We tend to lose lots of the photo opportunity because the phenomenon or event occurs in a place which doesn’t have accommodation to stay. Pitch a tent, stay with local people or do whatever you have to catch a nap before heading to capture that perfect moment and one will always come out with a winner. In general terms, one has to mould to any situation to capture that perfect moment.
What are the photography equipments you presently use?
Ideally what I feel the camera that is in my hand is the best camera. Presently I use Nikon D810 and D750 cameras and few collections of lenses from Nikon. Apart from that few filters from NISI like circular polarisers and ND are indispensable. Again few accessories and articles I like to pack in my daypack are headlamp (which doubles up as a light painting device), tripod, few polythene bags, insect repellent creams, energy bars and an ID card.
Your views on post-processing of photographs.
The camera alone is not capable of recording the scene which we have seen or experienced in the field. Unlike the human eye, it lacks a wide dynamic range where we can see details in both dark and bright areas of a scene. No single tool is perfect, so a photographer has to take the help of post-processing techniques. The process in this pursuit of mine involves paying meticulous attention to details and technique on the field, along with some precision work in today’s digital darkroom. To further optimize, fine-tune and adjust contrasts, colours, tonalities, luminosity, etc. of the picture in order to present the viewer the optimal sense of being at the scene. To sum up, artists will always find ways to express themselves by whatever means are available to them.
Do you conduct photography workshops? If yes, please tell us a bit about them.
Apart from large photo tours or workshops, I take up one-on-one and small group workshops flexible in nature and informal. Here the group is kept small to have maximum one-on-one time to understanding your camera’s settings, composition and usage of filters in order to break into new creative realms. We discuss shoot planning and how to be in the right place at the right time. In addition, at the workshop, I discuss post-processing and digital workflow techniques and also how to pre-visualize and shoot in the field.
And one last question of this session Debraj, if you have had one wish…
Wish I get the best of light always when I am out in the field shooting.
Please check this website of Debraj Chakraborty for more of his photography works.
Photographs Courtesy: Debraj Chakraborty