I am an amateur Kolkata based street photography enthusiast currently doing my Ph.D. on behavioral ecology from one of the premier science institutes of India, IISER Kolkata. Besides my study, I do photography as a hobby which is becoming serious with each passing day. I have been a part of some exhibitions and publications in different contests (Honorable mention in IPA 2020 in Street Photography), photo fests (Bucharest Photo Fest 2020) annual photobooks (“100 untold Stories”). My work has also been featured among some of the most prestigious online collectives as well (SPi, Insidephotos, EyeEm, Photocrowd, Somewhere Magazine, etc.)

What are the rules of your photographic work?

I try not to keep any rules to follow till now. There’s probably only one. But it’s about learning something new whenever there’s a chance to. But when I go out for pictures, I just try my best to forget everything and let my instincts take over without any judgment. Well, there’s two probably then!

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

I am not that technical in that sense. I keep it simple and focus on my surroundings. And I am awful with colors, in my opinion. So I try to imagine everything in a monochrome tone. That makes things easy for me. It works as a primer to my thinking process.

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

I am fairly new to this field, so there’s yet to learn a lot and experience. But I would be doing an injustice if I did not mention my Art teacher Pranab Phauzder. He is an amazing painter and has been the biggest influence in my life to date. I painted hardly while I was with him. We only talked, discussed various things. To me, those years with him will always stay with me.

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

Personally, I have faced tough crowds in various situations while I used to roam around different alleys of North Kolkata, India and I try to manage them with a smiling face and a friendly approach. Being able to tell that I am a college student helped most of the time then!

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

I generally do not go to many places. Rather I choose a particular place that I have been to or I’m quite familiar with or with the kind of people who are there generally. I visit those places repeatedly only because I have a better understanding of the place itself. It helps me with the thinking process.

Other than this, sometimes I just go out to explore new places around the ones I am most familiar with. The relationship grows with the growing number of days I have been there.

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

I don’t have any secret techniques I guess. I can stand and wait for a picture for over an hour if I find the space intriguing enough and I like to shoot alone. There’s nothing much to it more than this. Other things are very common.

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

Currently, I use a Nikon D5300 with an ultra-wide-angle lens. Sometimes the kit lens also does an amazing job for me. Later on, I also took an interest in film photography and bought a Nikon FM10 along with some of my friends. I’ve shot some rolls recently that need developing. Other than this, I find mobile phones to be absolutely amazing. It brings the least amount of attention.

Are there any books you would recommend?

I try to read literature in my native language mostly (Bengali). Still, recently I have been reading “Photographs not Taken” by Will Stacy. It’s amazing. Other than this, I look at paintings often.

Subhashis Halder