What is photography for you?
Photography was always a journey that helped me express my take on life and essentially my first hand education of life and its ups and downs. I believe photos are more like proofs or a document that cannot lie and can be used as a powerful tool not just to tell a story but sometimes help in changing people’s story for the good.
“Sometimes if I find a new angle to a story which has been told several times, even that can bring novelty to the subject I document as nothing is stationary and stories keep changing over time.”
What made you focus on social photography/ photojournalism?
Have not seriously thought about how I landed in photojournalism but I believe it was my upbringing and what I saw as I grew up that helped me see the human side of topics and focus on telling stories through photographs. The idea of visual language always excited me and to be able to engage people and document real life stories with it just stayed as my interest from my early days in photography.
What are the major risks in photojournalism? Have you ever faced one?
Risks in photojournalism can come even on a regular daily assignment when we are trying to get a better angle for a picture. Incidentally I had a narrow escape. Once in Chennai I was assigned to shoot a business man who was attempting to escape the police from his apartment after creating a day long drama by holding a person hostage at gun point. As he was trying to escape, I was ready with my camera and the police had just spotted this. My first reaction was to point my camera close to his window and next thing I remember is him holding me and pointing the gun right at my head. It was my luck that he decided not to shoot and police caught him within that time. Apart from that, it is always a safety concern while shooting flood, landslides and frequent riot – like situations that occur on our daily assignments.
What are your interests other than photography?
Given a time away from work my interests are glued to music and cinema and playing violin whenever I get free time at home.
How can photographs create a social impact?
Photographs directly or indirectly begin the process for a social impact. The picture of Syrian boy Alan Kurdi that turned the worlds eye into Syrian refugee crisis is the right example to quote in this context.
What were your thought processes while clicking the national award winning photograph?
It was a series of photographs that I had clicked from different parts of India focused on women led development. Women’s contribution to our economy often goes unappreciated. But, in reality, women have really become the backbone of our nation building process. Women hardly sit idle, they are engaged in a variety of occupations like domestic work, menial and other odd jobs to support their home financially. My orphanage experience also reinforce my belief that women are hardworking people in our society. I was working on this idea and I am happy that my documentation received recognition.
What are the factors you consider while selecting a topic for Photography?
I try to focus on subjects which are previously untold. Sometimes if I find a new angle to a story which has been told several times, even that can bring novelty to the subject I document as nothing is stationary and stories keep changing over time. Human interest stories remain the main factor in selecting a story and giving it a visual account, I take as a challenge.
What are the methods of photography you adopt?
The processes involved in photography are more instinctive than methodical but yes one thing I always tell people is that even if you feel the subject is boring or the frame is not appealing, always try to look through the camera viewfinder and make a decision rather than just seeing. And I anticipate a moment which is going to happen and that comes with practice.
Do you think that Indian photography and photojournalism has distinct features that demarcate it from International photography and photojournalism?
India definitely has more subjects and variety that are worth photographing and when it comes to photojournalism there is always something more to explore. This definitely did have an impact on the aesthetic criteria of photography that developed in India and it stands different from most other foreign countries.
Who are your inspirational models in photography and why do you rate them so high?
I’ve always been inspired by Photographer Steve McCurry and Photojournalist Kevin Frayer – both for their visual archive and interesting human stories that they bring out from different parts of the world.
What advice would you give to young people who engage in photography seriously?
Since photography has become more social and more emphasis is being given these days on the technical aspect of photography, the only thing which I would like to see youngsters doing is to concentrate also on the human side of pictures and give more focus on the subject just as much as one concentrates on the aesthetics and technique. After all, the human touch only can make your photo different from the others. Too much focus on technology makes the art a bit robotic, in my opinion.