Thank you Arindam Thokder for being the honorable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, March 2019.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview with Arindam Thokder to know his view and approach to Street Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[Arindam] My name is Arindam and I am from a very small city of North-East part of India called Cooch Behar. I was a fine-art student during my school years and used to do on-location sketches at places such as railway stations, village fairs or temples etc. After getting job and moving to Bangalore, I no longer got time for painting and sketches as I would have liked. So, I bought a Canon A95 Digital Point and Shoot Camera and started roaming on street shooting everything. Soon after, I joined a Flicker Group called “Bangalore Weekend Shots”. The group used to go for shooting every weekend and the focus was more towards street photography. It was a great learning experience every weekend.
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[Arindam] I loved Street Photography from the day one, it was easily accessible and my point and shoot camera was enough for Street. I don’t need to travel to some sort of Jungle or climb a mountain or buy expensive studio lights. Magic happens on the streets; I just have to press the shutter.
Unexplainable pictures that raise more question than answer or something unique captured out of a mundane situation or picture that have great emotion is a good Street Photograph for me.
– These days we are seeing so many great works of current photographers and masters available on the Internet and otherwise. As such, how can we try to be original in our approach?
[Arindam] Take a break from the digital photography world, watch movies by Satyajit Ray or Wes Anderson or Akira Kurosawa, come back after couple of months and listen to your hearts while shooting. It worked for me couple of times, it might work for you too.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[Arindam] One good picture a day is more than enough for me. If I find a nice place with people busy in some activity, I would stay there for hours and keep shooting. Initially people would notice me, and I would reply with a smile. After the first 10-15 min, they start ignoring me and I become invisible. I wait for the right moment to hit the shutter and then I wait further to get even better moment. “Color” and “play of light and shadow” was part of photographic style for long time. I played with layers too. However, I think layers are overdone now. Same goes with Juxtapose (I still like cleaver Juxta pics though, like this one – https://www.flickr.com/photos/
– Projects or single images?
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[Arindam] Content is more important than gimmick.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
[Arindam] Be respectful to your subject. Wear a smile when you are on street. Do not hurry.
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
[Arindam] There are many but I think I am mostly influenced by Raghubir Singh. Favorite book – “A way into India” by Raghubir Singh.