Thank you Rohit Vohra for being the honorable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, August 2019.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview withRohit Vohra to know his view and approach to Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[Rohit] Hi my name is Rohit Vohra and I am a street photographer. I have been shooting streets for over 16 years now. In a search for new methods to read the city, I try to photograph contact with humans and basic living elements. I was attracted to photography fairly early and I remember playing with the Kodak Hot shot camera on family outings. I guess that’s when the seeds were sown.
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[Rohit] Street photography is one of the purest forms of photography. Love the challenge it presents, of capturing the unknown. You are out on the road with absolutely no idea of what you are going to come back with. I enjoy street photography because of this uncertainty… the joy of capturing that perfect moment… perfect in terms of light, texture, and elements all perfectly in place. Such a flawless alignment of elements, coming together randomly, to create a perfect moment which is visible for the smallest span of time before it vanishes forever… that is what I enjoy. When I am on the street I like to show my reading or perception of reality. Street Photography is like a therapy for me.
I am personally drawn to visually complex images. A lot of my images will have more than one subject, the idea is to include more and more information about the place or street, there is a thin line in creating these images, one has to be careful that they don’t appear like a chaos to the viewer. I would want the viewer to see how various moments can coexist and sometimes contradict each other in the same frame.
A good street photo has to be visually lyrical, like a song. Geometry and relationship between form and subject make is special.
– 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?
[Rohit] Being original is the only way forward. We are living in a world where we have easy access to things and people, access to photographers can inspire and encourage young photographers, one can ask questions and get replies in real time.
Only issue with this is, you don’t get to solve problems yourself. This leads to copies and copy cats, you end up creating a slightly different version of the works that already exist. This in my opinion leads to mediocrity. When you try and solve problems yourself, you might find a new solution to an old problem.
This is also where you can be creative or original.
So how can we be original in our approach?
Well for starters, don’t be afraid. Everyone is afraid of failure, even originals, but what sets them apart is that they are even more afraid of failing to try. The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most cause they try the most. Being original is not easy but it’s the only way to improve the world around us. Be a rebel, find different solutions. Risks are a measure of people.
Have a keen eye. Our way of looking is distorted these days, not by our own experiences but by those of others. Their reality is not yours. Your sensitivity (which is one of the most important ingredient in photography) can’t be same as others. Photography is about being intuitive; it’s not about likes and followers. Photography is a never-ending search of asking questions, finding answers. It comes from a very deep place within.
Seek criticism. You will have enough people around you who can praise you all the time. Use this access to photographers to seek criticism. Ask them, what is wrong with this picture? How can I make it better? This way they will be able to give you a truthful answer. And you are still in the position to reject their opinion if you disagree.
Lastly, to be original you need to be ambitious. Everyone wants to be good but to be great you have got to have that drive and passion, you have to be able to make sacrifices. You will have to take a different path. The only way to be original is through experience, mistakes and learning.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[Rohit] My approach is simple, try and shoot as often as you can. Follow light and let the photography Gods surprise you. I am not a greedy photographer, for me less is more. I am not a hustler, I don’t run after things. I am happy and satisfied with what comes my way. I don’t look at my pictures for a long time. I have grown to like that approach.
– Projects or single images? If so why?
[Rohit] I am a fan of both. Single images can be so powerful that they end up being the starting point of new projects. I am happy taking single images and later if some of the images end up talking to each other, they can always end up in a project.
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[Rohit] Life is unpredictable, don’t wait too long. If you want to do something, do it now. Decisive moments in street photography and in life are far and few but the journey is as beautiful as the destination.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
[Rohit] Follow your path. Don’t let likes or followers define your vision, otherwise you will end up feeding your tribe rather than taking risks and creating original works. Stay humble.
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
[Rohit] Josef Koudelka for his sensitivity, Bresson for his geometry and Daido Moriyama for his snapshot take on life. Koudelka’s “Gypsies”, Bresson’s The Mind’s Eye and Daido’s Labyrinth are my favourite books.