Thank you Dinesh Khanna for being the honorable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, February 2020.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview with Dinesh Khanna to know his view and approach to Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[DK] I have been a Professional Photographer for the last 30 years. However, since I learnt my photography from my father, who was also one, I started young and had a camera in my hand since I was 12 years old. And that’s 50 years ago!!
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[DK] Streets, gallis, bazaars, melas are where my heart lies. And these are places I have been spending time in for decades. These interest me greatly as a very large part of Indian life, across societies and regions, is lived in the open and openly. This is true both of our commercial and religious life. And both fascinate me immensely as subjects. And this, therefore, is where my most favourite Photography happens. Hence Street Photography.
-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?
[DK] One will be original by being true to one’s own interests and vision.
I fully subscribe to the view that one should look at as many photographers’ work, whether Masters, past and present, or contemporary peers. This is a wonderful way of finding inspiration and also learning the subtleties and nuances of what makes a photograph special.
However, once out in the street, or wherever one is with a camera, you should let your own instincts, interests and vision take over. Think of the space in front of you like a Theatre of Life and watch for the characters and the relationships and the connections between them. Things will ebb and flow and change and re-form in front of your eyes. Be one with that, become a part of it. In doing so, you will find that you see the world in your own special way and that’s what you should photograph.
Very importantly, do this often. Practice being on the street. Practice just watching what happens. With people. Between people. With light. With light and people and built spaces. And the vacant areas in between.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[DK] My favourite parable about street photography is about a water pond, which may be still or have gentle waves, but when a stone is thrown into it the water gets agitated and waves radiate out from the point of impact. As photographers, when we arrive in a street scenario, we are very much like that stone chucked into the pond water. Since we are alien to the place, and our cameras and attire, etc really accentuate that, we cause agitated ripples there. However, much like the pond, in which after a while the water settles down and becomes placid, if we stay quietly in the street then, after a while, life goes back to normal and people get used to us and go back to their routine.
My approach is based on the belief that I am like that stone, but street life is like that pond.
– Projects or single images? If so why?
[DK] Oh most definitely both! However, as a Still Photographer I am very aware of the fact that my preferred medium is about freezing the moment. Hence, every image, whether single or part of a project, has to stand on its own merit first. It can only be worthwhile, on its own or as a part of a project, if the image has technical, aesthetic and communication merit.
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[DK] That life always has a rhythm but dances to different tunes depending on the place, time and the characters involved. Watch it, learn it, revel in Life’s music. It will enhance your enjoyment of Street Photography and will show in your images.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
[DK] The 2 most vital ingredients for street photography are: patience and serendipity. The first you can train yourself to have, the second you have to learn to respect. And I would like to add one more – Riyaaz.
Riyaaz, means practice, and is at the heart of any performing artist’s engagement with their art-form. As with any art-form whether music, dance, painting or photography, its constant and regular practice that makes one better and helps us evolve our craft and our art.
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
[DK] As a matter of personal faith I don’t mention names of favorite photographers. Not because I don’t have any, but because there are too many to name and I hate to leave anyone out.