I am a street photographer based out of Gurgaon, India. Back in 2011, I got myself a new DSLR to primarily click pictures of my new born baby. But it was when I took the camera out on the streets, sometime in 2016, that I discovered this whole new love for photography. Since then I have been regularly capturing streets.

What are the rules of your photographic work?

Art has no rules, else it will risk becoming science!

I am a learner, and at this moment I really have no rules.

I shoot what catches my attention, and I shoot a lot whenever I go out with my camera.

I am a software engineer by profession and mostly I only get weekends to shoot, so I try and make the most of it.

Photography is my hobby and passion.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

As I said, I am still learning. I shoot streets. From whatever I have learnt until now, the two most important tools in street photography are the ability to observe – being aware of the surroundings.

Second is the ability to look a few seconds, at times even minutes in future, and then have patience to see if it unfolds and when it does, not to miss that moment.

Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

Practice is that one thing. The key is to shoot as much as possible, and follow and read some of the master’s of photography. Read about how they shoot, how to they see, how they frame.

The key is to understand this fact – If you practice something every day, or at least as often as possible, there is no chance you will not get better at that.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

In the initial days, I would get frustrated often. I would go out and then return with all bad photos – sometimes exposure was not right, camera shake, missing the decisive moment, bad framing, or just not being able to figure out the right subject – everything that can go wrong for a Photographer used to go wrong with me.

What kept me afloat was this love for Photography. Even a single good photo from 500 shots I took would make me very happy.

As I practiced more, I got to know my camera better and my observation improved. I approach Photography as a student – it’s a never ending process, and there are no limits.

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

I mostly shoot streets, and it’s important to understand and observe your environment. It’s also important to blend in (be invisible) as much as possible and be neutral.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

I cannot emphasize it more – keep practicing and it will make you better. This applies to not just photography, but any field in life. 

I also have learnt that it’s important to go to the same place again and again. Never think that you have exhausted all the possibilities of making a new frame in a place you have visited many times. In fact, take it up as a challenge, that I will try to compose the shot in a way I have never done before.

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

At present I have a Nikon D750 and the 24-120mm kit lens. This is all I have.

How do you relate to your customers? Do you choose them or do you let chance bring them to you?

I never have yet got any offer to make money from it till now.

Do you think there is a perfect age to start being a photographer?

I do not think so age is a boundary for learning and being good at anything. It’s all about are you really passionate.

What have been the consequences of COVID19 in your work?

I have shot more since March of 2020 than I ever had. This also allowed me experience the city like never before – less crowded, masked faces.

Are there any books you would recommend?

I am not much of a reader, though I have read this wonderful eBook by Erim Kim – 100 lessons from the Masters of Street Photography.

I frequently view pictures by some great names in street photography – Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Gilden and many others.

Among the contemporary street photographers from India, Navin Vatsa and Vineet Vohra are among the best, and I regularly follow them on Instagram.

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

What I absolutely love about street photography is that it is raw and unadulterated. I can’t control anything – and yet I have to freeze those decisive moments. It is like this play where I am standing in the middle, and the actors are all doing their job.

This thought of observing life as it is, and then capturing some moments from it that makes me and my audience go wow, and the sense of accomplishment in that very feeling – that is what keeps me going.

Chetan Verma