How did you get into street photography? Did your childhood have any influence on you becoming a photographer?
Though my childhood did not have any influence, photography has always been close to heart. Being in Dubai for 12 years and seeing how people live as per their wages triggered me to document them. When I started, I found endless opportunities to photograph and faces in particular is what I was drawn to. Every face I see has an untold story.
On your website, you talk about shooting in your home town. Where is that? And why do you like shooting the streets there?
I was born and raised in Chennai, one of the four major cities in India, and I started my job in Dubai. I proudly call Dubai my second home. Most of the people you meet in this city are expats and I tend to focus on expats from the Asian community and blue collar workers. The street is an amazing place and why I love shooting with human element is simply because it gives life to my frame.
I also enjoyed your blog post about life by the ghats. Can you tell us a little about what it’s like there? Is this a good place for street photographers to visit? If so, do you have any tips for visitors?
“Life by the Ghats” is a post about Varanasi, India. Life in one of the oldest inhabited city is Chaos if I could define it in one word. The city also known as Banaras and Kasi has everything you ask for. From strange rituals performed by the Aghoris to Westerners following the culture and practicing spirituality, Varanasi is just everything.
When it comes to street photography, this city has what a street photographer will look for. Finding beauty in chaos, portraits, candid shots, documenting death at the Manikarnika ghat to name a few.
As for advice/tips I would request every photographer find a local guide before reaching the city. These guides will take you around and help you get access to some Ashrams where tourists and cameras aren’t permitted. Finding accommodation is easy and relatively cheap and oh, do not forget to try the street food.
I love your portraits, this one for example is one of my favorites:
How do you get your portraits? How do you interact with your subjects?
When I find an interesting subject for portrait I very politely approach them and given most of them are from an Indian/Pakistani origin, language has never been an issue for me. I greet them in their language and tell them what I like about them. For some it’s their hair, eyes, mustache etc. I then ask about what they do and how long they are in the country. Making a connection is vital in getting a portrait. You want your subject with their best expression. When I am done with the shot I show them the images I took and ask them which is the best from the bunch. I also take their contact details and make sure I send the image.
What has street photography taught you?
Street photography has taught me confidence in life. I was an introvert and I know how many subjects I have missed being so.
Photography in general has given me a broader view on life and Street Photography in particular has taught me to slow down and it has even made me a leader of a couple of photowalk groups (on meetup) in Dubai.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Navith and see more of his work, be sure to visit his Flickr account. Navith was selected from our Flickr group (Street Photography Magazine), where we regularly choose photographers’ work to be published in our magazine.