I am super excited to bring to you a fellow বাঙালি Bangali (people from West Bengal are called Bangali, বাঙালি) photographer. During the course of this interview, I realised Swarat and I share the same birth place - Dhanbad! Small world!
Hi Swarat, nice to meet you. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello ! My Name is Swarat Ghosh. I am born and brought up in the coal capital of India i.e Dhanbad. At present, I am based out of Hyderabad and professionally working as a “Lead Visual Designer” in a reputed software company in Hyderabad.
Were you always photographing street? Or if not, how did you begin your street photography journey?
My earliest memory of photography was looking at pictures by ‘That’s Life’ photographers such as Kaushal Parekh, Prashant Godbole and many more street photographers from India. I am proud that today I am part of this wonderful street photography collective which inspires many more aspiring street photographers (including myself) to take this medium seriously and emotionally connect with it.
For me coming into photography is pretty accidental when my wife gifted me a digital camera in 2012. Initially, I joined a couple of Flickr Groups called “Hyderabad Weekend Shoots” & “The Camera Club of Hyderabad”. Over there the focus was more towards Street Photography. We used to travel to different parts of Hyderabad, and it was a great experience for me.
What draws you to street photography?
I love how you capture your frame could you give us an insight what you look for and how you prepare yourself? For me, in the street, I normally try to catch emotions more than anything.
“Content” is the King. As long as I am getting strong subjects with varied emotions which people can easily relate to, I think as a photographer, I have done justice to myself. I just enjoy the whole experience of making pictures until now.
I love how you capture your frame could you give us an insight what you look for and how you prepare yourself?
For me, street photography is all about timing and the capacity to observe. I pat myself on the back for the sheer dedication with which I push myself when making images on the streets. Many times I feel to skip on weekends (due to my software job), but somehow drag myself just for the sheer joy of clicking that magic picture at a time.
Who are your master(s) in Street photography? What do you like about their work?
I am not going into any particular genre. Few names I always admire and follows their work are following:
Raghu Rai, David Alan Harvey, Trent Parke, Sohrab Hura, Swapan Parekh, Prashant Panjiar, Dinesh Khanna, Amit Mehra, Sudharak Olwe, Sumit Dayal, Chirodeep Chaudhuri, Kaushal Parikh, James Whitlow Delano, Barbara Davidson, Michael Robinson Chavez, Ron Haviv and Eric Kim.
Along with these names my own fellow, ‘That’s Life’ members and other collective like ‘in-public’, who are amazing and great source of inspiration.
I'm not big on gear talk but am still keen what do you use for shooting street and what are your rough settings generally?
I normally shoot with Nikon D610 and FujiX100s. I don't set any settings in particular.
Your work was featured in Burn Magazine in Feb this year. Congratulations! Can you tell about your experience? I'm sure you are proud of this achievement, but whats next? :)
I am always a great fan of Legendry David Alan Harvey's work and getting featured in his own online magazine "Burn", Will definitely cherish all life long. On regular intervals as well, I receive a lot of inputs from him so I hope that only happened because of this association. whats next? I don't know :)
There are a lot of Street photographers out there. Some good, some average, some really brilliant. What do you think makes one stand out? What is the recipe?
I don't think there is any recipe or shortcut for that be honest and hardworking that's what I believe in. There is no hard and fast rule according to me. Patience is the key imho. I can only tell you one thing now after pursuing photography passionately over the last five years, now – I just slow down. I’m not in a hurry to make images. Lately, I am enjoying the whole experience on the street with out worrying about whether I will get pictures or not on that particular day. And I will also consider myself to be lucky to get few great subjects at the right time of my exploration.
A lot of your work features Bengal. Of course, this is a strong thing for me and I am Bengali even though I'm struggling to write Bangla script lately... what is it about this "city of joy" that makes you create amazing photos?
I don't know frankly. I just feel Kolkata has its own charm and so much to offer as subjects to photographers. One can never get tired of this city of joy for it keeps showing you surprises from all the corners. The city where the ancient and the modern blend in effortlessly. Where the trams and hand-pulled rickshaws co-exist with the metro trains and fancy cars. What more you want from a city as a photographer to offer!
How long do you wait around the same scene to get a good shot? 1 minute, 5 mins, longer? Is there a method to your madness?
There is no method. Sometimes I have to wait for an hr for everything to fall into place for making pictures. Some days I was lucky enough and get the shot in a minute and I guess there is no particular formula for that :(
What message do you have for photographers trying to catch a moment that makes them worthy streettogs?
No message in particular but I can tell you one thing. Just "enjoy" the whole experience of making pictures. Be true to yourself and respect your subject. Finally, be dedicated and stick to your own style that's my humble request rest will follow.
Thank you Swarat for your time and effort and here's wishing you the very best.
Please check the URLs below and follow Swarat Ghosh for some serious street photography inspiration.