Interviews With Our Guest

Interviews with eminent photographers in various genres, both National and International, we have published on our Facebook page is meant to learn the art from their experience and expertise.


Sangeeth SivanRathika RamasamyDr. Deepak JohnSwapan Mukherjee

The YODHA of Malayalam Cine World and a hit maker in Bollywood. We appreciate his spirit in sharing his vast experience and knowledge in the field of photography with all of us. Born to a LEGEND, he already proved his talent as Writer, Director, Producer, and of course a Photographer.

Being born in a world of photography, when you were a kid, cameras might have been among the many toys you had. Do you remember your first ever click?
Yes, there was any number of cameras at home but don’t remember dad ever having taught any of us how to click!! Our home had a good set of books relating to photography and his logic was that if the kids are interested in photography, they would read it and click pictures. After clicking we could take the picture to him and he would then tell what he thought of the picture and how it could be made better. That being said my first click was of my mom with a click camera, after which we moved to Rolleicords, Rolleiflexes and later on 35 mm and ultimately to medium format Mamiya RB 67.
When did you realize that you have an interest in photography? Shall we put it in another way, who found the photographer in you?
Like I told you, there was no compulsion from home, but looking at some great pictures that my Dad took was inspiration enough for me. There were such a lot of wonderful B&W photographs in the studio; we were in awe of them, of the photographers, and of the technique employed. Soon I was adept at dark room work and also touching and finishing of negatives and prints!! They were our Photoshop then…
You started your career as a Probationary Officer in a bank and later established yourself in the world of cinemas. Any advice to budding photographers who wish to choose photography as a profession?
Times have changed and how. During my time, a job as a Probationary Officer in a Bank was a great thing. And Doctors and Engineers along with Administrative Services were in vogue. But today there are so many new, interesting and more paying professions. I have heard of MBAs resigning their lucrative jobs and concentrating on shooting marriage functions creatively!! More money and more important lots more time at their disposal to try other things as well. It is a great time to be a photographer, the mushrooming of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter helps in popularizing your images and get your work seen. So if u have the passion, the drive, the willingness to do hard work and be different along with talent, you can make a great living out of photography.
You started your journey in the field of photography with film cameras and now being with a digital one, which of the two excites you more and why?
I was very lucky to be born in the era of films both in photography and films. So I have gone through the process and when it has become digital, we just absorbed the new technology. I see analog as the foundation on which I build my digital tower! When we were shooting film, because of the cost of the film, we were very very careful…very precise… and therefore more pre planned… The whole suspense of having to wait till the negative got developed was a personal high… And it took a professional to take good pictures… Today everyone you can think of, is a photographer… be it mobiles or digital cameras… So for one it has made it more affordable and easier for people to indulge in the craft… you get to see immediate results… and take corrective action almost immediately… and last but not the least the post production techniques opens up a whole lot of possibilities to the photographer after a picture has been shot!
Most of the people say, Post processing is a must in digital photography, but how far? Your views please.
It is not a must but if you use it well, then you get astonishing results. I am all for the use of technology. Most of the things that we do in Photoshop was in vogue even during the good old dark room days. I have read that Ansel Adams used to spend hours in his dark room dodging and burning his prints, so manipulation of an image was already in existence and how can we be positive that a great photographer like Ansel Adams would have declined the use of Photoshop, had it been available?? My take is very simple; if post processing does help in improving your image, please do go ahead…
Other than your great father, which photographer inspires you the most?
I get inspired by every good picture I see. In India I remember being influenced by Raghu Rai, Prabhu Das Gupta, Suresh Natarajan, Shantanu Sheorey, so many actually. Ernst Haas, Helmut Newton, Mario Testino, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon to name a few. Besides the long list of cinematographers starting with Santosh Sivan, V.K.Murthy, P.C. Sreeram, etc.
Tell us, whether your children share this passion (photography)?
My daughter Sajna Sivan, after having completed her Bachelor of Mass Media in Mumbai, surprised me by opting for photography as her profession. She is now assisting a leading advertising photographer besides doing her own works mostly interiors and food. My son does take pictures but he is just in the tenth standard, let’s see how much he shares the passion.
Director, Writer, Producer, Photographer… You would like the world to know you as...??
Honestly, I would like to be known as a good human being, period.
Good photography schools are very few and not affordable too. Is training a must to excel in photography? Or, is there any other-way to learn better photography by self?
Well, I did not go to any photography school, my initial studies happened with the help of books, used to raid the British Council for books on Photography, today thanks to the internet, you can study every aspect of it. Youtube has tutorials on various aspects and if one is passionate and serious enough, you can learn on your own for sure. The best way is to click as many pictures as you can and thereby learn. Good schools, if one can find any is definitely good… for there would be a method followed which would be beneficial. More than anything else, it prepares a youngster to go face the world confidently.
For a photographer, all his shots are special. Still, we would like to ask, is there any single one so close to your heart for a reason or two? We would like to have it in our album 'CLOS2HEART'!
Well so far, I don’t think I have a favourite. It should be the next one I take 🙂
You were born in Trivandrum, now settled in Mumbai and might have traveled across many places around the globe. Tell us a photogenic place where you would like to spend your whole life, not alone but with your camera. Of course, we are sure your family won't spare you!
Honestly I would like to settle in Kerala, one of my wishes is to travel the length and breadth of the state and click the magnificence of the place and perhaps organize an exhibition or publish a coffee table book.
Finally, we wish you may share some photography lesson for budding photographers.
A very good advice for any budding photographer is to observe light and its behaviour every single time… that is one of the most essential qualities a photographer should have … knowing the quality of light …

She got a gift from her father when she was studying in class 10 and it was a camera! That’s how the journey of India’s first woman wildlife photographer started in photography.An Engineering graduate and an MBA holder, she learnt photography by her own. When we requested for an interview, she advised us to draft questions to help budding photographers and we believe we did justice to her and all budding photographers.

It’s not quite common to find a woman venturing into wildlife photography, at least in this part of the world. How did your family, friends, and people around you react to this?
My family supported me in pursuing what I wanted. The thought that wildlife photography is a field where women in our country do not venture easily just did not cross any of their minds. Nor did I give any thought to this. What was important to my family was that I take up what I was passionate about and enjoyed.
How will you encourage young photographers, especially women, to come into this field of photography?
They have to believe that they can do it. It does not matter whether one is a woman or man to enter this field. What is essential is love for wildlife and nature.
What role can a wildlife photographer play in the conservation of wildlife and habitat?
All animals require their good and safe habitats for their survival, and it is hence very important to maintain their natural environment. Unfortunately, deforestation, indiscriminate mining and industrial activities, pollution and destruction of water bodies and wetlands are all leading to destruction of the natural habitats of animals and birds. We need to educate people about the how valuable wildlife and natural resources are. Photographs can convey much more than words. Photographs of wildlife connect nature to people, and thereby help increase awareness about wildlife and its conservation. Photographs depicting damages to the environment make common people sit up and take notice. It can help people understand how certain human activities can wreak havoc on natural habitats and on wildlife. Photographers should use their work to increase awareness. For conservation purpose they started taking wildlife photographs.
After wildlife, birds in particular, one of your favourites is candid people photography. Which one is more challenging...shooting animals in their own territory, or shooting people who, generally, are not very comfortable with the camera?
I think both are challenging. With candid photography too, you have to be patient and alert to capture the perfect moment, which occurs at the blink of an eye. In my opinion, however, bird photography is slightly more challenging as birds are very tiny and very shy.
Lot of money and time are needed for serious wildlife photography. For some it’s passion, while many take it as a career option. In which category do you fall and your advice to beginners in respect of these approaches.
Yes, you initially have to spend on equipment and travel. For me, wildlife photography was first a passion and then gradually turned into a profession as well. This is not a conventional profession. For beginners, if you really love nature, I would suggest that you start this as a part time activity without quitting your job. If you find your foot, then you can make it full time. There are very few full time wildlife photographers in India. Wildlife photography in India is still very nascent, but is slowly growing.
Let us deviate a bit. How effectively social networks like Facebook could be used to protect our forests, wildlife, and nature?
These days, networking sites are part of your social activities. In the earlier days, publishing articles, photographs, etc in magazines was not so easy. Now, with the internet as a medium, you need not wait and you can publish your work very fast through photography websites and reach a large audience. Conservation campaigns and events are easy to organise these days using Facebook and Twitter. We have many internet groups for wildlife photography and nature lovers, we can share information instantly. It depends on how constructively we use the medium.
There are people like tribals, whose life is so synchronised with forest. How can knowing their ways help a wildlife enthusiast. For example, they know where an animal has gone just by smelling the air.
As a naturalist, one could learn how to track and sport the animal and how to keep a distance without disturbing them. Knowing their habits helps to spot them.
You don’t use heavy post processing to your shots to retain the natural feel of a frame. Your views on post processing on other classes of photography.
In digital photography post processing is a must. The raw formats you get from photographing are like the negative of a film roll. You have to process the raw format and convert into jpg/tiff for printing. In case of wildlife photography, the processing should be subtle and not heavy. Heavy post processing is fine for fashion, food and other genres of photography. I believe that a photograph is a record of a real event, and a good photographer will present the true moment without using any digital tricks. With documentary/news and wildlife photography, you want to portray the real and true moment without any extra manipulation.
You are too good in capturing action scenes of animals and birds. May we know is there any special reason behind it?
As viewers generally enjoy seeing action shots again and again, I love to capture action shots. I always look for some interesting story for my images. For this, I have to be aware of their habits and behaviour pattern. You have to be there at the right time and right place to get the best action shot.
What are the things to be kept in mind and what kind of preparation to be done before a photographer enters a wildlife location for shooting?
The main rule is to “know your subjects”. It is very important to have in-depth knowledge of animals, birds, their behaviour pattern and their habitats.Research and planning are very important before going for any shoot, one should know when is good time of the year to shoot particular animal/birds, which place is best place for the photograph etc. One should know the limitation of the shoot. If it is new place, best to hire local guide or naturalist helps. Strictly follow the local rules. Take precaution for basic medicine and rain or dust covers for your equipment.
Can you narrate briefly the life of a photographer in the midst of a forest?
Animals and birds are active mostly in the early morning and evening. You have to be on location before they start their day. For example, in the National parks, you would have to be out in the field by 6 am and carry on till 10 am. You can then take a break, have lunch, and check the photographs you have taken, download them, and charge your camera batteries. You then go for the evening shoot. If it is a bird sanctuary, you can be active in the field for the full day.
Can you share something about your present PERSONAL life and how do you manage that and WILDLIFE together?
I am based in New Delhi, living with my husband and my mother. With my family being supportive, I am able to balance travel, work and home.

We got amazed when we knew about him. BSc in Physics, BFA in Fine Arts, MFA in Graphic Arts, PhD in Design Education, Teacher, HOD, Illustrator, Painter, Professional Photographer of Fine Arts (mainly), Products, Fashion, Wildlife, Table Top, Writer, Logo Design, National and International Exhibitions, many awards, and the list is never ending. We are adding one more Tag to this great artist, a Down to Earth Human Being.

Fine art is one genre that most photographers tend to avoid mainly because of the artistic complexity. How would you define Fine Art Photography and how does it differ from other classes of photography?
When we talk about fine art photography one need to look at what is fine art photography. It has different meanings in different times. When photography has started, people said this “painting with light” would replace painting. But painting deviated from capturing reality and went on. So earlier photographers were trying to reach the painterly quality in photographs in order to give the feel of fine art. For a long time pictorial photography was considered to be fine art photography. People used to shoot beautiful landscapes, moments from village life, mother and child, smiling child/old people etc as fine art photographs. This could be related to the Romantic Movement in painting. Even today many people consider a photograph as a fine art only when it is a pictorial in nature. Giving different treatments to the photographs to give a painting like effect was another popular method. (Like giving grains, tones, textures, solarisation, partial coloring, etc.) Later photographers started looking at abstract patterns or organics shapes. So shooting extreme close ups or aerial views became an easy way to make abstract pictures from everyday life. Art movements like expressionism and abstract expressionism were a big influence to this. Another approach was to bring in symbolism to the photographs. Photographs became symbolic, it shows something and it means something else. This became extremely popular because of its interpretational possibilities and it was easy to create new imagery.
But the real challenge is today when we talk about fine art photography, it is not only about pictorialism, abstraction, technique or symbolism. It is about how you are treating a subject in today’s context. The choice of subjects has changed from “looking out” to “looking in”. The issues became more personal. Instead of pictorial beauty the content became more important. “What “ you are saying is more important than “how “ you are saying. Photographers are exploring their personal experiences to create pictures “Nan Goldin’s” was shooting her immediate surroundings. So the idea of packing your bag and going “far far away” to create a “fine Art” photograph has changed. Now it is a journey with in. If you look at current subjects of painting you can find a lot of similarity in photography too. Earlier photography was treated as a fine art only when it has a “painterly” quality. That means the aesthetics of painting used to judge photography. (Ansal Adams and his contemporaries challenged this). But we can say photography is an independent medium and it has its own aesthetics.
Today post modernism opens the possibility of thinking in a pluralistic way. It already has been 150 years since photography has come to the scene. Photography has changed the way we see the world and it has transformed itself. Photographs are no longer required as images that merely reflect the world back at us in a simple one to one translation. Rather they construct the world for us.
You might have been closely associated with the life of many poor people during those days of struggle before you established yourself. Are you into any kind of social works or social awareness activities?
I was involved with educating the underprivileged during my Trivandrum days. I used to go to “Vinibhanikethan”to teach them art. It was a big eye opener for me. I used to spend my Sundays with them trying to teach painting a bit of theater and a lot of time just chatting with them.
Now my focus is in to practices and academics, so I am not in to “social work” much. And my 100%time is devoted to photography education. So if you consider photography education as awareness campaign; then yes.
For you photography is a hobby as well as a profession. How do you market your work in the domestic and international markets? And what are the precautions to take regarding money transfer, copyright issues, legal aspects, etc. while dealing with international customers?
In any field when your hobby is your profession it is the most satisfying career. You call one activity as your “hobby” because you enjoy doing it for your own satisfaction. When your hobby is your profession it serves both ways; your personal satisfaction as well as making a living. For most of the people it becomes very conflicting to “price” ones work. I support my art with my educational activities.
If you practice as a full time photographer especially wanting to sell your works as a piece of art then galleries are the best places to do that. In India there are galleries now dedicated to selling photographs. One needs to find out the galleries who would like to market your work. Making your work visible is very important if you are a practicing artist. Having own website or blog is very useful. Participating in group shows are a good way to make your work visible.
When you sell your photographs, there are many aspects to it. If you are selling prints then you must make sure that weather you want a limited edition or unlimited edition. If you produce a limited edition it can command more price than an edition with unlimited numbers.Many times you may sell your photographs for some publications/magazines or calenders. Then you can negotiate a fee for the “use”. In earlier days if you have the negative with you, it was easier to prove the ownership in case of a dispute. In the digital proving the ownership is very difficult. So it is very important to do all the paper work, which deals with the digital images. Make sure your “terms of use”, releases and certificates of edition are in place and agreed upon before any transactions.
In case you are selling a photograph for some use the “basic usage right” is for one year and the copyright remains with the photographer. Until and unless mentioned in the agreement the buyer needs to pay for the use after one year for the same image.
If you are selling the print then the buyer retains the right on that print.
We are delighted to see a tab 'Students Work' on your website. What is the kind of teacher-student relation do you follow or stand for?
I believe the teacher like a catalyst in a chemical reaction. While the process on the catalyst is active and helps the process get the result faster. But is does not react to the chemicals. Similarly a good teacher helps the student to achieve their goal in an effective way without changing their goal. I believe in mentor-ship than teaching. A healthy discussion and a feedback is what a student seeks from a teacher. As a mentor one should understand the students projects and help them to develop their concepts in an effective way. Teaching is sharing and learning from each other. In fact the student and teacher both learns in the process of teaching learning. A good teacher is a good learner.
You have traveled across India to pursue your dream. Could you share with us the experience and lessons you learnt from those days?
I believe traveling is the best teacher. Anything experiencing in first hand is very important in my life. When I was traveling I never thought that of any purpose for it. I just wanted to travel. That is it. So I went ahead and wandered. I think when your mind is restless traveling brings in a great amount of maturity.
The people I met, the places I lived, the food I ate all were a big influence on my practice. I think my travels were my best teacher. In those days I was staying with whomever I met and hitch hiked on trucks etc. So I could see the raw life as it is. The elements from my travel appears indirectly in my work now.
You are a teacher, photographer, writer, and a painter. What does you enjoy the most and why?
It is a difficult question to choose one. I enjoy all of them .I don’t think I can differentiate any of them. I practice so I have experience, that experience I share through my teaching and writing. I learn while photographing and painting that I use in my teaching and writing. And I learn while I teach that I use in my photography. So one feeds to the other.
Like many others, you also use torch light, gelatin sheet, and candle light to bring in Fine Art to photography. These days many depend on editing software like Photoshop for the same purpose. How did the things change for you after digitalization (cameras and post processing software) of photography?
For me camera is a tool. In the beginning one is fascinated by the technicalities of the tool. It is like cooking. When one starts cooking, one is interested in the vessel and kind of spoons and knives used while cooking, but after a point one forgets the vessel and the taste of the food becomes primary.
I used to use a lot of techniques. May be because I am a self-taught photographer, I used to have a craving for mastering the techniques. And it is a process one has to go through it. Enough technical skill is required. The techniques become immaterial. Just like swimming, if you don’t have the skills of swimming; you can’t swim or float in the water. But while you are swimming if you are thinking about the hand movements and leg movements then you can’t swim.
I use both analogue and digital medium. My choice of the medium depends on the purpose.
I think soft wares likes photoshop “appears” to be easy. But to achieve good result it is as difficult as film. Technology is a good thing. It is like salt in the food. It has to be just right. Too much and too less, both are not good. The process of printing in the dark room and working on a computer; both are different experiences. Similarly painting with a torch light and painting with a digital tool is different in process and experience.
What are the pluses and minuses in publishing one’s work on online networks like Facebook and Flicker?
Social media is a great tool for networking. it gives a wider publicity. So you can become very popular among your friends at the same time one should understand the “likes” and “wow”s one receive are not real. If you start counting the likes and wow s to judge the quality of your work; then you are in trouble.
You dropped your MSc course midway against your parents’ wish and left home to achieve your goal. Many youngsters struggle to set a goal in their life and to cut out a plan to achieve the goal. In some cases, Parents play the villain's role! What would be your advice to the youngsters and request to the parents in this regard?
I don’t think parents are against the child. They wish for the good of the child. The parents wants you to be safe always. This might lead to mediocrity many times. When one want to travel in un explored roads the parents might be skeptical. But now with the internet revolution it is much easier to convince the parents, as they can also be made aware of the possibilities.
If you are a youngster and your parents are not convinced about what you want; one strategy that you can adopt is that gather all the information about it and update the parents.(If they are not convinced and if you still want to depend on them financially, then listen to them because they are funding you.)But if you are still convinced on what you want to do then just do it- follow your heart.
Fine Art, Fashion, Product, Industrial…the list of genres of photography you deal with is never ending. How does your approach differ to each of these genres, like your preparedness, photography gear used, post processing, etc?
Now a day I do a project for long time. Some ideas germinate in my mind and I keep shooting them and improvise them. Many times the idea often gets changed in the process. And there will be a point where I feel that “ ye this is it”. Then I start preparing for exhibiting them. Sometimes it takes more than 5 to 6 years. I normally work on many projects at the same time. There are different hard disks for different projects, so that when I sit for editing I see only that project in front of me. And I re do till I am happy because I am the client for my own projects.
While doing a project where I am not the client (fashion, industrial and products etc.) I discuss in depth with the other people involved. I believe that it is a process of co creation. The designer, the model, the creative team and the photographer; all work together to create the desired image. In every genre the mindset of the photographer is more or less the same. You do all homework and be prepared to accept the accidents. And let the process drive. Many times if you are not open to accidents, then you end up on a rigid solution. So be open and at the same time allow your constraints to be in place so that it does not go haywire.
Photography is collaborative project. Both the model and the photographer has equal role in creating the image.
How would you guide a budding photographer to create a Professional Portfolio on his/her own?
Being updated is very important. Your work need to relevant to today’s context. Seeing Master’s works and contemporary photographers work helps.
When you are preparing a portfolio give full attention to editing. Don’t select too many pictures from the same series at the same time it should not be too less to lose the continuity.
Work around a script. Don’t show too many images. Be what you are and focus on your strengths than simulating a good-looking portfolio.
Keep updating your portfolio. Be very critical while editing your own work.
For those young photographers who are getting ready to take photography as a full-time profession, can you prepare a set of questions to be asked to themselves to test their preparedness? Of course, we need the answers too!
Have you decided to become a full time photographer? What are your reasons for it?
What genre you want to specialize?
If you are not sure then try everything and slowly settle down to the ones you enjoy the most.
Have you prepared a good portfolio of work to seek job?
You can attend portfolio reviews and share work with your peers to strengthen your confidence and improve your work.
The moment your “Hobby” becomes your work it will give you tremendous pressure, because in this profession you are your “client” and you know how difficult to satisfy a difficulty client like “you”
Photography is a 24X7 job are you ready for it?

A veteran Indian photographer who is the finest in food photography and proved his CLASS in Architectural, Fashion, Products, Photo Journalism, People, Fine Art, Travel, etc. He has won awards like the bronze medal for his contribution to the symposium; ‘The World and its People’,with photographs depicting the British way of life; Beauty Photographer of the Year by L’Oreal; best Cityscapes award from Cokin; Campaign of the Year award from several Advertising Clubs.

On your 14th birthday, your father gifted you an Ensign Ful-Vue Box camera and there was no looking back after that. Can you look back into that special day for us and also we are eager to know about the cam as we have never heard of it!
Of course, I still remember it vividly. We were living in Gorakhpur, UP. My father was some kind of a big shot in the Indian Railways. Traveled to New Delhi quite often to meet his counterparts from other regions. Just before going off on one of those trips, had asked him if he would get me a camera from New Delhi as his own, a Zeiss Super Ikonta, was a bit formidable for me.
When I asked him on his return if he had managed to get me a camera, he had replied in a manner, which was disheartening, that he was very busy in New Delhi but, “Have a look in the suitcase”. There was a neat looking box, with the word “Camera” along with other words, staring at me when I removed some of his stuff, covering the box. I think my tryst with destiny was sealed at that moment. I became the proud owner of my very own camera, an Ensign Ful Vue box camera, an elegant beauty.
Since, like most people, you have never heard of the camera I ‘googled’ it. The link below will give you a complete background to the camera, which is now a collector’s item.
Alas, I do not have it anymore as I had smashed it to smithereens by swinging it on to the floor in front of the entire family one weekend afternoon when my mother complained to my father that I was spending too much time with the camera and not my studies. It was my ‘pryaschit’ I suppose.
See here!
Since childhood real life moments have been moving you and you have depended on the art of painting to picturise those moments. Later you switched over to photography, thanks to its instantaneous nature and it could capture those moments perfectly without missing any detail. Life on canvas and life on photograph, how do you differentiate these two ways of expressing art forms?
Whether it is on canvas, or on a piece of photographic, or inkjet paper, you are recording the same life. So, the visualization and the recording remain more or less the same, only the act of recording changed if the media was canvas, or paper. With digital technology, even the process of creating, whether on canvas, or paper have more or less become the same. The big difference, however, is that you have to painstakingly execute every move manually while working with paints but with the pixels you do not even have to mess your fingers !
Initially you went to England for studying architecture. Can we know about the Architect in you and how did it help you to become a master in Architectural photography?
Structures and buildings, of any shape, size, age and purpose of them being there have always fascinated me. The saying that “If walls could speak” is indeed very meaningful for me as I am always aware of a place I visit. The walls, decors, etc. do speak out to me. Several people have remarked that my architectural images give them the feeling of visiting, or living in such a place. May be it is because I shoot with feelings of the place rather than aim to create technically perfect, cold and clinical images , which many so called architectural photographers tend to do.
Hence, after graduating with B. Sc. (Hons.) from Delhi University, the time had come to choose a career discipline. I was certain by then that my career would have to be a creative one, rather than hard core science, or engineering. Architecture was the obvious choice. Photography, as an option, was not even considered.
But visiting London, meeting influential people from the British photographic scene had changed all that. Looking back I can well see that I was just destined to be a photographer. So, here I am. Truly blessed that I have never had to work for a living as both ‘work for a living’ and my passion are one and the same.
We have seen a photography store on your website. What are the qualities a photograph must have to get potential customers, both national and international?
It has a lot to do with the choice of subjects. An image of Lord Ganesha will go down well in India but may not be elsewhere. So, one needs to select subject matter carefully. However, photography as an art form is still in its nascent stages in India.
Usually, I stay away from clichéd subjects like water-falls, sunsets, etc., unless they are simply extraordinary. More graphic the image, digital manipulation of commonly seen subjects, and presentation do help. I am also fascinated by the macro world.
As for the technical quality, the prints have to be the very best. After several years I decided to go for a decent photo quality inkjet printer, so that instead of spending time at a printing house, I could print my own, which enables me to print exactly what I want. This insistence for print quality comes from my days at my first job, which was as the black & white photographic printer at a studio in London. Thereafter, I had still carried on as a freelance printer, working in the photo and design departments of advertising agencies, while trying to establish myself as a photographer.
There are two sides to the photography, shooting for others and shooting for our self. The first one is to earn a living and the later to fulfill our creative urge. Could you suggest a balancing act between these two?
Most of my life I have been shooting for other people, with little or no personal creative inputs worth mentioning. It was rather frustrating. Running a large studio, shooting anything and everything, to pay for the high studio overheads, I had begun to feel that life was passing me by outside the studio. What is more it was not the reason why I had taken up photography in the first place. I had to have some kind of a creative balance in my life. I wanted out of the kind of life I was leading.
As luck would have it (being truly blessed) due to some legal hassle between the landlord and the owner of the building I had to overnight move out of the studio. That changed my life for the better.
Ever since moving out of the studio I had decided to organize my life. A conscious decision was made not to move in to another studio. This decision meant that many studio based assignments would eventually dry out. I decided to explore architectural work (my second passion) to compensate.
Right now, I am, I think, living the best period of my life. No high overheads to fret over, saving over three hours of commuting time, having time to undertake personal projects, and the shoots I do for others are now out of choice, rather than having to do, as before.
It is vitally important to set aside quality time to do your personal projects. Such projects help you to evolve as an artist, which will then eventually reflect in your work for others. You cannot be just a ‘button pusher’ all your life!
You are brought up in India and lived above 25 years in England with a Citizenship. Which is your favorite, India or England and why?
Both the countries are my favourites for different reasons. I was born in India. My first formative years in schools, colleges and University gave me the all important foundation in life. But, I really wanted to see the world.
Life in England was tough during the initial years, which, I guess, has helped me for being what I am today. The English people are efficient, honest but a bit too reserved for the Indian in me. However, once you get through the initial reservation they are some of the finest people to know.
In officialdom the English are fair and transparent. The bribery culture is non-existent. In contrast, India is still in the dark ages.
What I had hated in England was the horrible gloomy and wet weather. It also affected the psyche of people, including me. It was a bit depressing. Had almost forgotten what it was like to live in a sunny climate. However, if we were lucky to have a good summer it would be simply like being in heaven. During a good summer, all of the English countryside would become the most beautiful on earth.
The spectre of latent racialism was something which used to bug me a lot. Thankfully, the times have changed for the better. We have racialism in India of a different kind. You see that in all those small advertisements for marriage proposals.
Returning to India I had realized that you had respect, and could be somebody, if you were good at what you did. I guess the most important thing of returning to India was to get back my self-respect. It was not really that bad in England if you were in the right circles but, generally it was not quite so. Again, things have changed as with the opening up of the European Union, I think there are now more non-Britishers living in U.K. nowadays, which makes the country more homogenous and thus more tolerant.
Is there anything NEW you always wished to try in photography, but never did for some reasons or other?
Arial photography, specially from a hot-air balloon, with a self propelled device to take me anywhere I wanted, and photographing life underwater.
In your teens, a photography book by Kodak of Rochester was a great source of inspiration for you. These days many options available to a beginner to learn photography like photography institutions, online courses, video tutorials, workshops, photography books, etc. Your views about these means to learn photography?
Life is too short to learn everything by yourself. So, you do need outside help. Reading photographic books give you an idea but practicing it is more helpful. Reputable photographic schools and workshops under acclaimed practitioners are definitely helpful if you really want to delve deep into photography. However, most on-line courses and video tutorial are too mediocre to be worthwhile. Apprenticeship with several reputed photographers can also be of great help.
You are excellent in portraying people and objects, both are poles apart in every aspect. How does your approach to these two differ?
Thank you very much for the compliment.
If you really think about it, people, or any other living beings, and objects, in photographic terms, consist of forms, shapes, colours and textures, which are the elements of a photograph. So, I study these before shooting. Then comes the consideration of whether it is a living being, or an inanimate object you are shooting. Accordingly you mentally prepare yourself, and then adopt the most suitable technique. A beautiful woman, or a beautiful vase, is exciting to photograph. May be the beautiful woman would be more interesting as you can converse with her while shooting. I am really a people person, and shooting portraits is like a social occasion for me. Shooting still-life, like food, gives immense satisfaction as you can arrange, rearrange compositions, lighting, etc. to your heart’s content without tiring your subject.
You are the one photographer who beautifully utilizes the effect of light and shadow on photographs. Can you elaborate?
Oh! Do I? Thank you very much, once again!
I simply love light and therefore, lighting. Also, I am always conscious of the laws of light, and its nature. How extra-ordinary it is that no one can see light. One sees only its effects on any solid particles, from a tiny speck of dust to a mighty mountain.
Without light there would simply be no photography. It is like a Mont Blanc pen but no ink in it, to write with. So, you see I am very much aware of light and its effects all around us. I get immense satisfaction in playing with light on a subject, be it a human face, or table spread of food, and I guess, it shows in the final result. Instead of being ‘pedantic’, and going by whether I am replicating ‘Rembrandt lighting’, or ‘Butterfly’, I just do the lighting according to the feeling I get for the subject. May be it is a gift, bestowed on me from up above!
Your energy level and enthusiasm are higher than your age. Can you disclose the secret?
As I child I have always been in awe of grown-ups with their responsibilities, and so was afraid to be a grown-up. Guess, ever since then, that fear has got stuck in my mind. I am still a kid at heart, with a curious mind, which helps. In fact I have no idea how a person of my age should behave. Over the years I have just learnt to be myself, and conduct myself according to the values I have acquired over the years.
The adage, “You are what you eat” is also a fact of my life. I simply love salads, sprouts, vegetables and, of course, lots of fish. No red meat but plenty of chicken. Keeping the mind occupied with interesting projects, creative or practical, helps to keep me on my feet.
Finally a question to know the philosophy about your personal life. You are single and photography is your life. Has there ever been any conflicts between the photographer in you and you, the individual?
No. Never a conflict for choosing the path I have taken. I think photography has made me what I am today.During the early years, sometimes when life seemed to be in the doldrums, doubts did creep in if I had made the right decisions, but they would disappear without leaving a trace when things brightened up.
Staying single has not been a conscious decision for I simply love and adore women for their generally compassionate nature. Being single has been a practical arrangement, because of my deep involvement with photography, which is indeed a way of life for me. It is not because I may not like the idea of being a couple. Not being a 9 to 5 regular ordinary guy it would indeed require a really determined woman to couple up with me, but if she were as ‘possessed’ with the same passion as I am it should not be that difficult. I know of dedicated husband and wife teams of wildlife photographers, and deep-sea divers, who have quite successfully made it work. However, there are recent divorcees amongst my photographer friends, who have always claimed that I am the smartest guy around. I have my doubts.



Cecelia WebberRamit BatraPadmashri Pablo BartholomewGMB Akash

One day her unparalleled imaginations got a colourful life. Life of nature and colour of human bodies, thanks to the unlimited possibilities of the art form called Photography and her editing skills.Though she is in her late twenties, she has already created a fan base across the globe.

Your works are simply amazing due to their creative extravaganza. How and when did the very idea of portraying NATURE with human bodies struck your mind?
I took a nude portrait of my back and it looked like a petal – I realized I could make an entire flower. It was almost an accident. After that I found that taking photos specially designed to look like parts of flowers made the resemblance even stronger.
When you were a kid you lived in a world of fantasy and enjoyed reading, company of salamanders and also searching fairy creatures. When you look back, do you feel you have missed a childhood without friends of your age?
I had wild imagination as a child and I loved reading, but I also had friends my age. I was very shy, but not around my close friends. Because my house was in the countryside, I wasn’t in walking distance of other houses, I did spend a lot of time alone outside in the fields and in the woods, and I don’t regret that time, but there was also a long period of time when my family rented out the bottom floor of our old farmhouse to other families. For most of my childhood the family living downstairs had a little girl my age who was my best friend and herself was interested in fairies and gnomes and other magical creatures.
Imaginative power of kids has no limit or restriction. Being one of the youngest and renowned creative artists, how would you aid them to convert those imaginations into a creative art form?
I wouldn’t need to give them any help. Kids naturally create things. The important part is not to criticize them, and just to leave them alone to make what they want. Nobody ever pushed me to make art, and that may be why I did so much of it when I was young. Some people are born with the desire to create in them, and some aren’t, and adults can’t engineer whether their kids become artists.
For you nudity is a beautiful medium of expression and your creations are combinations of naked human bodies. You began with yourself as a model for your own creations. How different was the reaction of people around you during preparation and after the publishing of your first work?

Most people thought it was really cool. I don’t tend to hang out with people who are scandalized by something as tame as my artwork. If I had painted myself yellow and made a video of myself running through the streets my friends probably wouldn’t have been bothered by that either. My parents, on the other hand, were somewhat nervous about it at first, but soon got over their initial fear when they saw how positive the reception to the pieces was, and how skilled I was at the artform. Even though they were nervous at first, they never told me not to do what I was doing. Now everyone is uniformly supportive.

Your works showcase extreme possibilities of digital techniques in creativity. What should we call them; Digital photography or digital art?
I’d say digital art, though it’s important to mention that I never warp the bodies of my models, and all the art is made solely from real photos of people. I couldn’t produce these images with single photographs, though, these are collages, and as a result I wouldn’t call it digital photography.
We believe your works are priceless. Could you share with us the approach you follow to fix the price of your work when they are put up for sale?
It’s very difficult – I work with my sales manager to fix the prices, and it’s been a long process. From the beginning it was very important to me that people like me, who aren’t wealthy, can afford my artwork in some form. On the other hand, one piece can take me three months to complete, and I wouldn’t ask a business person to work on a project for three months and then pay that person two cents an hour. Often that’s the highest rate people want to pay an artist for work of equal difficulty, not understanding what it took to make it. So I am are trying to strike a balance there.
You get volunteers as models for your work and these days you recruit models of different ages, body types, and ethnicity. Since your works are results for digital manipulations, how does it really matter to you and your art form in selecting models with such diversity?
I never manipulate the bodies of my models, or the characteristics of their bodies. Their friends would certainly still recognize them in my pieces. One unfortunate aspect of the art to date is that I am a relatively small woman in my late twenties, and as a result all the pieces made with my body only show that demographic. That’s something I will be working on changing with the use of models.
When we look into every human postures of your work, we feel that an emotional element is attached to all. Can you elaborate?
Being photographed, even while wearing clothing, is an emotional process for most people. Many of my models have never been photographed nude before, and many of them were volunteers. I am sure that this lends an air of vulnerability to their poses and bodies. It is also an intense process for me as the photographer. I want to convey the emotion contained within the body, so I choose poses accordingly.
You started with creating flowers, then butterflies and birds. What’s next on your creative line up?
It could be many different things…
Can you tell us the procedures or process involved from planning to preparations to finishing to marketing a work?
Making the pieces is a very organic process, and involves a great deal of experimentation. I typically plan the poses I photograph, but I am always watching for unexpected forms that come about as a result of the process. I often take over fifty photographs of one pose to capture the right image, and somewhere in that string of images I am almost always bound to find something that surprises me. The most difficult part is conceptualizing the pieces, orchestrating the relationships between the different poses used, and thinking of the human body as a three dimensional object collapsed into a 2D plain to form a shape. I haven’t marketed my work, aside from my facebook page, which I generally am very casual about. Somehow people find me anyway.
Graduated in neuroscience, love to teach philosophy, reading, photography, painting, dancing, sewing, experimental films, web comic, chasing salamanders and fairy creatures, and what else! Seems like you are a very complicated personality! Your comments please.
Everyone is a complicated personality! It’s more interesting this way for me. Why not try new things? I hope to never stop adding to the list of things I do. I just started reading about World Wars I and II.
Do you have any plan to come out of the digital world and showcase your creative imagination “LIVE” to the world? We mean arranging models live on a stage to make a picture perfect scene similar to your works?
My pieces are too complex for this style of photography. I’d need a skyscraper made of glass floors and to position people on all floors all at once for it to work, with the camera recording on the top floor looking down. I’ve actually thought about it, and that would be the only way to recreated things I’ve made in a truly “live” format. In the future, however, I might work with film.

The young, dynamic, and one of the most successful Wedding Photographer of India. Though he has chosen this NEW profession only before few years, his hard work and passion easily placed him as the most sought after Wedding Photographer.

A Mechanical Engineering graduate from the Army Institute of Technology, Pune and a career as an animator with national and international acclaims. Now establishing you as one of the best in Wedding Photography since 2009, do you regret that you could have begun your new career, rather passion, long before? Let us put it in another way, do you regret for the time you missed out before realising your real passion?
I have no regrets. In fact, I am glad that I spent the time studying & exploring technical and creative fields of work to finally realize that I wanted to work on my own.
I was into photography since my early school & college days. I started with a film camera as early as 1998. And even after engineering, I had a strong inclination towards creative works. The 4 years I spent in the field of Animation & Visual effects was another exposure which has helped me develop my photography skills much better.
So I don’t think I would have realized that I wanted to be a professional photographer without having gone through the path I have taken. Thus, no regrets 🙂
Before becoming a full time professional photographer, you had experience as a Senior Manger in an animation firm. Apart from photography skills, how important are the marketing skills to make your presence feel in this field of tough competition?
I was a GM with an organisation that dealt with animation & visual effects training. So marketing & management skills have surely helped me reach out to the people who want to explore my work and hire me. But being a creative field it’s the work that speaks in the end. You could use the best marketing tactics, but without a substantial body of work that the client connects with you cannot get work.
Your father being an Army Officer, you had your studies in the Army School and College, and you live in a defense colony, your interest list includes adventure sports like Paragliding & Snorkeling. We will not be wrong if we say you were born and brought up in the army culture. Tell us your story in short, the evolution of an artist from the army culture.
Thanks to my father’s job. I got to travel all across India, staying for more than 1-2 years in so many cities (for example, 2years in the Andaman), truly changed how I see the world. It opens new possibilities and helps you be very receptive to change. I also studied in the army institute of engineering. So the army background never left me. But, the artist in me got a lot of freedom & exposure to grow in all these years.
You have spent more than a year in photography, exhibition, traveling, attending workshops after leaving your previous profession. Can you share with us how you made up your mind to enter into this entirely new profession, Wedding Photography?
When I ventured into photography full time, after quitting my day job I had no clue what works for me. I explored all possible fields in photography, from travel, fine-art, fashion, teaching, portraiture, product, architecture and finally weddings. It took me a full one year of working on various projects to see that I love to capture people & create art from everyday things & objects. Wedding gave me a combination of the two and I fell in love with weddings!
In India, most of the budding photographers shy away from having their cam while attending wedding ceremonies. Your views please.
I believe you are wrong here, these days everyone carries their camera everywhere. Budding photographers, especially, love to shoot weddings! It’s a very lucrative field!
Your parents stood with you and supported you, whenever you switched your profession and now your photography skill. How important is the role of family in your success?
My parents have always supported me in my life & career. From the one year I spent making an animated short film right after engineering to the one year I struggled to see where and what I wanted to do in Photography. Without my parents’ support, I would have probably quit and gone back to my day job or been working with a software company like most other engineers.
By this time, you might have covered wedding ceremonies of different parts of the World. Which wedding ritual excites you the most as a photographer?
All weddings are different. And each wedding has its share of exciting moments. For me, it is the people that excite me more than the rituals. And especially intimate rituals like the feras and mehendi are full of so much emotions.
To most of the wedding couples, the wedding day is a mixture of never before emotions. You are brilliant in capturing expressions, candid moments, and their togetherness at its very best. What is the secret behind your success?
During my 4years in animation, we learned to study human behavior, characteristics, body language, expressions & anticipate action; and use it while animating characters and make them lively. The same has stayed with me and become an integral part of how I see people every day, and during shoots.
Since you had a prolific career in animation, did you ever think about something innovative or creative to mix up animation with photography to make wedding memories more interesting?
I make fusion videos which are a mix of video clips, pictures & music. I love video editing and mixing sound more as a hobby than a profession. And that is what I incorporate every now and then in my wedding photography projects.
You are an auto-didactic; you have depended on online tutorials to learn the art of animation and film-making. You have always been interested in sharing knowledge too. For someone who wishes to take wedding photography as his/her profession, would you please share some of the most valuable lessons you have learnt in your experience as a Wedding Photographer?
“Shooting everyday and shooting a lot” is the first and the fore-most lesson that I give to all my students & inters, and friends who ask me how to start. Working with a photographer whose work you like and connect with is the next step in making your photography skills grow beyond your capabilities.
It’s all about learning every day. I still attend workshops, I still go out and try new things, explore new ways of taking a picture, or just put myself on self-tests.
Your profile says you are a lifestyle photographer too. Which one is more challenging, shooting wedding moments or shooting real life moments?
Weddings are real life moments with the added pressure that you cannot miss it.
So yes, weddings are the most challenging when it comes to capturing beautiful moments with the restrictions such as time : you don’t get a second chance, or enough time to place yourself and make the perfect frame, you need to anticipate action; space : you have to work from the little space that you get between other people, videographers & photographers, in split seconds; lighting : there is very little you can do about the lighting, especially when shooting outdoors or in tricky places like churches & temples where strobes and additional lights are restricted.
If wedding photography is a commercial photography, client’s satisfaction is a must and if it’s taken as a creative art, self satisfaction is above all. What would be your stand in a situation where client and self contradicts each other?
Before I take up a project, I try and understand the clients’ expectations and explain the deliverable and try and explain to them my style of working.
Being honest and upfront at the beginning saves me from a burn-out later. I am not one of those artists/photographers who would say ‘yes’ to the client’s demands just to grab another project.
I am blessed to have clients who come to me for my work and give me the freedom to do what I do best, without restricting me or directing me to get them something specific. This is where I feel extremely satisfied with my work and am able to deliver beautiful pictures which the clients would cherish all their life.

A photographer of many genres and more specifically, a Documentary Photographer and Photojournalist, he has been awarded with the prestigious Padma Shri award for his invaluable contributions to the field of Photography.

You rushed to Bhopal, at the time of the tragedy, the site of world's worst industrial disaster till date, to photograph the impact of the disaster. Your advice to budding photographers who are passionate to get into one of the riskiest genre of photography, Photojournalism?
I don’t know if I have any advice for young photographers. The Media has changed a lot both internationally and more so nationally. And that is I guess the shallowness of 95 % of journalism that we all tend to walk from one story to the next. And then it’s the next story and the next and often the story is just a story, full stop.
For me maybe it is a denial, a kind of guilt that I have not been able to do enough on a personal individual level for the people, the situation of Bhopal.
I guess my getting the award had something to do with all this guilt . And while after the World Press Photo award, suddenly I was the star! Set apart from all my peers, colleagues, seniors, to be put in the in the hall of fame at 30.
So with the fame there are also responsibilities and that’s why I chose to go back the first few years to keep the stories alive. One thing that definitely set me apart from other photographers was that my brother was getting married on the first anniversary of Bhopal and I chose to be in Bhopal rather at his wedding. I know it upset a lot of people but then choices have to be made and but then the pull was stronger to be there, after all the horrors one witnessed…
Your father was a great photographer and an art critic too. How did this lineage help the photographer in you?
There is no lineage. My father practiced photography as an art for himself. But he had a great eye and it is in that way I learnt as an artisan…. You come to the craft and practice it and train by yourself till you get to be good. Yes you can always watch to learn and you have to pitch yourself against some very high standards. But nowhere except in politics and maybe in the Bombay film industry that you become automatically something because your parents are already there. In my case it is/ was a struggle. And that is the case even now.
Why are you so passionate about black and white photography and how do you treat Black and White in Digital Photography?
I had my B&W years. From the 70’s to the 80’s. Now days I shoot color. Both film and digital. But I may go back to B&W at some point for a very specific project.
At the age of 19, you won the most prestigious World Press award (category: Feature Picture Stories, 1975) for a series of photographs on Morphine Addicts in India. Share your views on how should a young photographer see and deal with social issues.
Again, I am no good at dishing out advice. My work of the drug series came out of an engagement with the time and period. I was very much part of the scene so I was documenting life around me. This was no premeditated project. It was very casual and around me.
We knew from one of your interviews we have come across on Internet, that you strongly believe film roll is the greatest learning tool. Film roll and film camera are dying and it's hard to find a lab to process films. Can you tell us the strength of film roll and is there any way out to go back to the world of films?
I still believe that to shoot, process, contact sheet, edit, and make your own prints is the ultimate way. This is because it gives the person the time to stay with the medium and think it through at all levels. Making a good print is like cooking fine food….
In above 50 years of World Press Photo Organisation's history, only twice has the coveted award for photojournalism come to India. In 1985, it was for your work Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Why does our country lag in producing world class photographers?
Getting awards it like a playing at a slot machine on one level. How a story becomes the top winner has to do with how the story did in the minds of the people that year. Then that can govern a jury to vote in a certain way.
The other thing is that Indian photographers are lazy. They just don’t send their work. So how can you win?
Unlike classical art forms, classical dance or music, photography rules are vague and a photograph cannot be assessed quantitatively based only on those rules. What would be your approach while judging photography contests?
I don’t think there are any rules in any art form. In fact it is breaking of the rules that often produces the more interesting work. When and if I am on a jury… I look for the way the photographer is thinking. That is important and then how has the idea been executed.
From a Photographer to Software Architect, photojournalist to commercial photographer! Tell us more about these diversities in your life.
Right now I am working with the archive. The archive of my fathers work – photographic and his writings. and have just published a huge book of his. And then there is my archive from the 70’s and 80’s that I have made three exhibitions with. Soon I will come to the 90’s and so on… however in the meantime I am making new work all the time. For me new work often takes a long time to come out.
You conduct workshops to educate budding photographers. What are the qualities a photography student must have to excel in this field?
I did just one series of workshops over a 3 year period for the World Press. After that I have just been concentrating on my work. I may go back into photo education but dedication and drive is what is needed by any aspiring photographer and that drive has to continue and continue. It’s a kind of obsession with the work and the medium that takes over your mind and body..
You are famous for your photo exhibitions worldwide. What are the benefits an exhibition can bring in to a photographer and how will you guide a beginner to arrange his own photo exhibition?
The medium of exhibiting, is about working in a space and is about making photographs talk to each other in that space so that the viewer can see a conversation happening and possibly participate in it.
It’s no more about putting the best shots up and about on the wall. But the process to arrange photographs in a sequence is a slow process that cannot be taught. It has to be self learnt through trial and error. Sometimes it can be referenced from how film, music and good writing are structured.
And there are financial considerations when you exhibit at a commercial gallery. You can earn money through print sales too.
Though it is one of the youngest art forms, photography has gone though many changes/developments, both technical and treatment (by different photographers in different ways). In your opinion, where will this art form stand after 10 or 20 years?
No idea.
Most of your images are packed with heartrending emotions and during those days it took hours and hours of hard work in processing to know how the image has come up. There might have been a fight of two feelings in your mind, the feeling of success in framing the incident the way you wanted and the feeling of sadness to that incident or victim. Who did win, the photographer or the human being in you?
When I shoot… there is no conscious thought of framing anything in any manner. It is an automatic process… The framing is a byproduct… Of what is going on in front of you that is the most important. And through all this how is it that you can be a human and sane.

We were speechless when saw his images first time and we are speechless about him too. Just read on this interview to know more about him.

From a boy with no doors opened to the world of photography to an aggressive PHOTO REVOLUTIONIST. We sense a life experience or an emotional thrust or something else behind this evolution. Could you light up the real story?
My journey resembles a slow-motion-roller-coaster ride; Scary, exciting, lasting. I called it so as many life changing stories unfolded in front of a young boy who ever could denies compete such events. For brought up in a middle class family virtues are my fundamentals or you can say only assets. Being a son of a freedom fighter I dreamed along my father to do something for the country and for our people. May be somewhat that dream never skipped by our small window and give light to my heart. My father’s old camera was a vessel to reach to my dream. To discover a road that was unseen to me. When my all friends were juggling hard and were bit of sure about their well-to-do degrees and to them I was the bohemian. Frankly I was happy with my identity. The neighbour woman who reputedly beaten by her husband everyday was my story, the gay who occasionally danced in a known prohibited lobby was my interest, girls under the red light was my canvas. I was trying hard to get all answers and to know their sufferings. My emotional thrust and their vulgar sufferings stroked thus I found my way out. I started documenting sufferings and finds beauty in ugliness, happiness in despair, dreams in suffocations. I am not a photo revolutionist; I am just a poor story teller, who has nothing but a suitcase full of tale.
You started with your father’s old film camera, purchased black and white film rolls with money from taking tuitions, converted the bathroom into a darkroom, and worked whole nights. Once as an interviewer, you asked Mr. Cole Thompson, master of Black and White, “why have you made this particular affection (black and white Photography) and how?”. Our question to you is, though you started with black and white film rolls, why did you stay away from it afterwards?
Around eleven years ago I was doing a story in slum. Black and white was my premise till the date. I took a picture of a young woman who was a garment worker. While I went to take picture of her, she suddenly disappeared. She showed up after half an hour in her new cloth, lace in her hair and by wearing a gold ear ring. Before I left her place she requested very much to give a print to her. In the next week I made the print and showed up at her door. I gave prints in her hand with happiness. Within a second her face was cloudy and with cold-sharp tone she said, ‘Am I look only poor to you? Won’t you see your picture has nothing? I saved a year’s salary to buy that gold ear rings and where is it in your picture? Where is my floral red dress? And my yellow hair ribbon? Your picture is lying’. That one sentence changed my perspectives, my images and my reality.
Apart from taking part in many international exhibitions and publications, you depend on writing and delivering speeches “to articulate the experiences of the voiceless and to bring their identities to the forefront”. Though a picture is worth a thousand words, how significant are the speeches and writing “to make injustice and suffering to be heard”?
Every picture gives you liberty to make your own word in imagination. It is very recently that I started speaking with pictures. For some pictures captions unnecessary. But the fact is there are images which have stories and characters, who want to talk, who want to engage. I would like to engage the viewers of those images. I visited a lot of countries and meet thousands of people. Thanks to my travelling that I saw two sides of the coin. I saw depression in elite world, sadness in affluent class, loneliness in palaces. Also I saw hope in struggle, happiness in limitations, and unity in hunger. It is important to tell stories of pictures to the people to enlighten how bravely an eight year boy is running education of her sisters/how pathetically an abandoned mother is living in old home left by the elite children. Words create scope to think intensely. I am also filming because sound and motion make images stronger.
The word Social Activist may be an inadequate title to someone who lives for the struggling, children, sex workers, climate change affected, slum dwellers, and many such. You even formed an activist group in this direction. How does being a photographer help in the cause of social activism, compared to other artists?
As a photographer I have access to the darkest corner of the world. I document hardships and sufferings. 16 years ago I intend to spot the light in stories that the world should know about. I was focused and determined in my goal. I was thus happy shooting for like ten years and more. But at some point of my career after earning little name and fame I discovered I have came far away from the people I photographed. But they still in the same position I saw them 10 years ago! I repeatedly ask myself then what changes my photos brought in their life? Yes as a photojournalist it is my duty to tell the truth but beside that as a human being we all have responsibilities. Then I decided to dedicate my 10 years project ‘Survivors’ in their name and for their changes. The money I got from selling price of my ‘Survivors’ book goes to the people I photographed.

Nah, I rather not think myself a social activist. What I did is basic duty of every human being. Tagging a person ‘activist’ is like making him/her ‘exceptional’. We have lot to do hands on hands. Not alone! Yes, everyone can walk through a road, not everyone can lead a road. It is important to lead but not to take spotlight by just ONE. I have some close friends who blindly trust me and my ideas, without their encouragement, involvement 20 Survivors families might not run their income so easily, or ‘Street Boy’s Dream’ might not happen, neither First Light Institute of Photography can run education of unprivileged children! I always engage my friends, fans and colleague with all activity.

Many photojournalists like you hardly edit the photographs to maintain the natural feel of images, but the trend is changing. These days, people make use of software and techniques such as HDR to enhance the effect of a photojournalistic image and still receive international acclaims. What are your views on this?
Changes will take place. One practice will not stay longer and digital world is so confusing and changing fast. I strongly believe that a documentary image must not lose its originality. I do 1% post production. Other photographers has their own point of views but by respecting them still I say this is truly not genuine to value software that it looks like 99% of the picture ‘made by computer’.
You are a travel-holic and have already traveled around 24 countries. What are your criteria in selecting a travel location and how do you prepare yourself?
I am avid reader of travel stories. I love to collect photography books. I save every single penny that I have after basic necessity for traveling. I am kind of messy person. Not a big planner. It happened many times that I disappeared from home just leaving a sticky note. There is no such particular place I like most but there are places that attract me enormously. There are places I go for hundred times and that never bore me. Every visit is a new discovery and invites new stories. I follow my mapless heart that takes me to the destination most desired.
Photography is an expensive art form and you never do it commercially. You undertake extensive traveling in addition to many social initiatives. How do you manage time and funding for all these?
Want to live another day just to store those emotions in my camera, to discover how precious each tiny second’s breathe is. Expect neither shine nor glitter. I take assignments to feed my travel-holic soul. Photography itself is very expensive. You need money for your equipments, for maintenance and for continue to move. If anybody thinks making short cuts in the way of competition will take him/her in fame and name then I would like to request them to take a leave. For me photography is like a religion. I can fast to save for my photo tour, to do another discovery. The way a priest engages to serve God, the way a mother cares for child it is like same. If you started excepting money you are ruining yourself. Money and name will come at its own. Photography takes me so many places, encountered so many events that I understood meaning of life. Luxury is not my cup of tea. I refuse when my clients offer me to stay in five star hotels, I feel truly uncomfortable to eat in royal places. I am very easy with the people I work. Simplicity is my mantra and sharing my food is my way of care. So I actually do not need much of money for my own and I am more than thankful for what I have.
You have won more than 80 international awards, which is incredible. How do you get updated about or follow all these competitions? Could you share some tips on the general precautions to be taken and rules to be followed before sending entries to these competitions?
I never do photography…to gain any award. My first rule is to capture what my eyes and heart catches. Taking photos to feed passion may be the most important invisible factor to win competitions. As a photographer learn to surprise yourself. Do not follow someone blindly. The work for any competition is worthy when it has your own reflection on images. Competition day by day become challenging but the core rule is the same everywhere. Strictly follow rules and genuinely select images that you find worth telling.
You did a project called 'Survivors' for 10 long years and published a photo book on the same to focus on people who struggle to survive in countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Pakistan and Bhutan. During this project, did you ever come across someone who has shown interest in Photography and expressed his/her desire to become a Photo Revolutionist from a Survivor? Or do you ever thought of finding Photo Revolutionists among them?
I bargained with myself to keep the arts as a passion for all those years. Now the time has appeared that I pursue it with vehement passion by involving myself in the betterment of these people whom I photograph- personally. This way I see it as not exploiting the people I photograph. But rather conveying their messages and amplifying their mute voices that have been oppressed by pathological social systems and plagued by poverty. My aim is to support people whom I photograph. I want to bring the greatest possible changes into their lives. I am continually trying to raise the volume of the voices of humanity through my photography subjects. My vision has inspired our ‘Survivors Families’. They understood my aim as a photographer and they accepted my gifts from me as a human being. Children of First Light who are getting informal education from their rural village, factories and slums are interested to take photography as their medium. I am happy to spread my enthusiasm in this future generation.
Many Photographers see social issues like poverty as a gateway to fame and money and they may go any extend to achieve their GOAL. What do you have to tell them?

I want to tell them – Please take another door, do not defame photography, and build a career as an entrepreneur with dignity, kindly do photography only on Sunday.

Totally this is freaking that poverty could be the way of making fame and name. A photographer must have to respect situation and people. If someone is intend to magnify selfishness then he/she never can go any way. Yes, there are lots of politics everywhere but at the end a true winner win hearts not just metal trophies.

You have recently started a Photography institution, “First Light Institute of Photography”. What was the thought process behind this initiative and how do you go about selecting the students?

Through Photography I only jot down my heart’s Language. First and at the end I am a photographer. I only treasure this tag. Then, why did I found First Light Institute of Photography? My answer is: To share my light, to give the light to the person who needs it most. I aim to make a platform which will be accessible to mass people and photography will no more be a ‘subject’ but a ‘way’. What is needed to be a student of ‘First Light institute of Photography’? A photographer who is honest, hard worker, dreamer, giver and self-believer can join us”

First Light Institute of Photography’ started its journey in August, 2013. The school has already held several workshops and free portfolio review sessions for aspiring photographers. At the school students receive a wide-range of training in the aesthetics, techniques, and business of photography through hands-on assignments. Mentors show students the way to achieve their personal vision through photography, and by giving them proper guidance mentors help students to turn their passion into a profession. Short Term Workshops are all designed for students beginning their education in photography and for those interested in improving existing skills to advance in their careers. After completing workshops/degree students of First Light establish a portfolio of impressive images and acquire technical proficiency, refined artistic sensibility, and a practical understanding of the business of photography.

How will you guide and motivate a budding photographer to follow your path of serving the under privileged by this craft?
The first question all beginners ask me is about my camera. I say that the camera is the medium, but do not take it more seriously than your eyes. It is your third eye that will capture the image and camera will only convey them. Do not become a camera-junkie with many big varieties. The second question beginners ask me is how to earn a living. I advise to be strategic, to consider things that can bring you money – they could be part-time jobs, small assignments, friend/family party shooting etc. Think about how you can continue to live in your dreams and can survive until you reach to your goal. The third question that I often face is “my parents are against my photography/my girl friend threatened to leave me.” I answer them that the convincing power of a photographer has to be marvelous because you have to convince the people whom you want to shoot. So start doing your homework. If you cannot relate your passion to those closest to you, then how far can this passion take you?
Lastly, be honest, respect others, do not enter into groupism, work hard, travel near and far lastly never underestimate your inner power.