How did you get into street photography initially?
To be honest I had no idea what “street photography” really was when I started taking photographs. It was for my own pleasure and fun that I used to go around in the streets and take pictures of anything and everything that I found interesting. It was only after few months into photography that I learnt about the genre “street photography”. Even so, I was doing all kinds of photography like landscapes, portraits, and a few abstracts ( if you can call them that ). After a couple of years, experimenting, I settled on street photography as my genre of choice.
Tell me about your project, “Just Here and There.”
“Just Here and There” is a personal collection of moments and memories I have been savouring through the medium of photography as I wander in the streets and try capturing life in my own way as it happens around me. It is this mixture of emotions and absurdity that presents itself in the most ordinary moments through which I can communicate with the people I come across and try build some sort of connection with them which will eventually last for a very long time through the photographs.
I’m not sure as what will happen in the future but I hope that my photographs will hold some historical or cultural value when one looks at them maybe 20 or 30 years from now. Maybe they too will feel the same vulnerability, sincerity and connection I have been trying to build through visuals with my hometown and with the strangers I meet, and with life as a whole.
That’s a good way to look at street photography, capturing photos to help you build a connection with your hometown and the strangers that live there. Where is your hometown? And what is it like to do street photography there?
Well, my hometown is in the northern part of the state of West Bengal in India and it is called Kalimpong. It is one of the popular hill stations in the country and it’s famous for its Cinchona plantation, pleasant weather and local cuisines. Photographing on the streets of Kalimpong is quite a challenging task because there is not much happening in the town usually, but it is this slow pace and the mundaneness of the everyday life that attracts me the most into taking photographs here. It is the little gestures, expressions, emotions of the “Kalimbungays” that makes photographing so meditative on the street of Kalimpong.
Where is your favorite place to do street photography and why?
I mostly take photographs in four places in Kalimpong: Haat bajar which is the local market, D.S. Gurung Road, the main road including the motor stand, and Rishi Road. These are the perfect places to do street photography in Kalimpong because these are the areas where you can come across different kinds of personalities engaged in their everyday lives, which fascinates me. Also, these are the places that constitute the main township of Kalimpong.
What has been your biggest challenge with street photography and how have you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been the fear of upsetting people by taking their photographs but after reading and watching the videos of some of the masters of street photography I started following their methods and their dos and don’ts. That helped me overcome this fear. I smile, I nod and I pretend that my camera doesn’t work if anyone notices me taking their picture.
What is your most memorable experience or photo in street photography?
I have had lots of good as well as bad experiences, but the one that I always cherish is the one that made me fall in love with photography. It was when one of the cultural rallies of “phulpati” was happening in town and I was taking pictures of one of my friend’s family members who had participated in that rally. While photographing them I came across a little girl of 4-5 years of age and she happened to smile at me after noticing the camera in my hand, well I took few pictures of her but didn’t bother much to look at it on the LCD. It was later on the same day when I noticed her picture while going through the pictures on the camera that I realised just how beautiful photography can be and how powerful it is. It can record a fraction of a second, a fraction of a reality, and make it something else.
Are there any street photographers you draw inspiration from?
Yes, there are plenty but Garry Winogrand and Vivian Maier are my two favourites. Their life, work and personality inspire me the most.
What has street photography taught you?
The biggest lesson street photography has taught me is that everything is temporary whether it is good or bad, meaning that everything can vanish in a fraction of a second. So I’ve learned to live in the present moment and cherish every moment as it comes by. And yes, no single moment is special, but rather every moment is.