Thank you Swapnil Jedhe for being the honorable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, November 2019.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview with Swapnil Jedhe to know his view and approach to Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[Swapnil] First of all, I would like to thank you for the interview and giving me the opportunity to be a guest mentor. I was born and brought up in the lovely city of Pune (India), which is known for a distinct, laid-back and cosmopolitan culture. I have completed my education in Applied Arts. Currently, I am working as an Art Director in an advertising agency. My first instance of using the camera came in early 2012, when I started clicking pictures just to break my routine. It was then that I discovered my initial liking and later on, passion for photography. One fine day, I accidentally came across ‘That’s Life’, an Indian Street photography collective. It excited the budding street photographer in me.
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[Swapnil] Exploring the hidden art within boring mundane life that we live, has driven my passion for street photography. The idea of capturing that ‘magical unseen moment’ from a very ordinary-looking scene is a thrilling prospect for me.
If a photograph evokes any kind of emotions, it is a good photograph.
-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?
[Swapnil] When I started photography, I used to follow few photographers, which eventually influenced my work. Nowadays, I don’t see what others are doing as I have a lot of clarity about my thought process and work. Normally, I shoot only when something pleases me the most, which is either a story or a scene.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[Swapnil] Every scene lets our imagination craft a story behind it. I want my viewer to spend some time looking at the picture and observing it in his/her own way. For that, I try and organise the visual clutter (which is and will always be an integral part of India and its landscape) in my compositions, so that eyes flow swiftly all over the frame. At other time, I click a special moment which might evoke viewer’s imagination. The results thus differ with the elements present in the frame. Eventually, my compositions are not deliberate efforts but natural instinct. I don’t over-think about the composition while shooting :-), rather I see a story or a moment, and capture it as I see it.
– Projects or single images? If so why?
[Swapnil] Single images. My photography is heavily time constrained, since I’m a working professional and also a family man. While shooting a project excites me, it also demands greater time commitment. I’m a street photographer at heart who loves to capture a moment and tell a story in a single image. I don’t plan anything before leaving for a shoot. I just shoot whatever comes to me.
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[Swapnil] How to deal with strangers. Being an introvert person it is a big learning for me. Respectful approach and smile can do wonders.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
[Swapnil] In this era of digital photography, Henri Cartier Bresson’s quote is still relevant which reads, “We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.”
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
[Swapnil] There are many photographers I admire. I really get inspired by Magnum photographer’s work. More specifically, I look up to HCB, Raghu Rai, Trent Parke, Alex Webb and Gueorgui Pinkhassov. These masters gave me the vision to look at the world around me with a different perspective altogether and made me believe that pictures can be made anywhere, anytime. They fuel my passion towards capturing mundane life in an extraordinary way.
I have many photography books in my shelf but books by Raghubir Singh are special.