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Originality in Street Photography|Anindito Mukherjee

Anindito is an independent photojournalist and documentary photographer, with experience in covering News, Politics, Economics, and Documentary stories. He started his career with India Today in 2006 and has subsequently been  a part of global newswire agencies like EPA, Reuters and Bloomberg.  Anindito's work has been featured in leading newspapers, magazines, online forums and other publications globally including The New York Times, Time Magazine, IHT, Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Globe and Mail. Today he will be sharing his experience in the field of street photography & share his views on the subject.

How you got involved in street photography in the first place?

Way back in 2002 I travelled to Vrindavan with my first camera , and took a photograph of a widow peeping out of a window. After 3 months of this I got it processed and saw the print. People named it beginners luck but I got hooked to capturing slice of life photos , the often ignored expressions of life, seeing them on prints was a satisfaction I have no words to explain.

When did you know street photography could be your field of expertise?

Once I started shooting professionally after quitting my well paid job in advertising I was often sent to assignments covering broken drainage, lack of facilities in government hospitals or malfunctioning traffic signals etc -that’s when I knew I had to make mundane look interesting. I remember getting a front page for a picture of a patient crawling to a hospital due to a broken leg and in the absence of a wheelchair. My interest in street photography made all the difference.

While working for newswire agencies, I was often asked to furnish stand alone images as a substitute to news/events. Shooting for wire is entirely different in comparison to what we see on Instagram, there was no post processing or multiple image using that layout feature. I always shot straight up images that had a compositional edge and needed no post manipulation. Thanks to the trick that street photography taught me.

What is street photography for you?

Street Photography existed much before inception of Instagram. Today with this social media platform it is just a term coined and people look at it as a genre in photography. But for capturing the mundane in everyday life that is often ignored. A well composed shot capturing every unguarded moment which video as a medium can’t, was and will always be street photography in true sense.

What's the most unusual feature of street photography?

I can speak for myself, and for me Street Photography is something which is not limited by date or time. It is just a moment that draws a photographer be it in the expression of a subject or the absence of it.

How important is the originality of work in street photography?

Originality and truthfulness with which a particular image or a series is shot matters. There are some who are inspired by multiple artists. I have nothing against that but one can’t get into someone else’s mind hence shooting what one thinks is must to be captured and is what makes an honest body of work.

How can artists find their independent styles?

One must find what works best for him / her. Inspiration is fine but the context and the situation might be in majority of cases entirely different. Moreover one can only apply the ideas from their inspiration once he/she find a subject of interest. Hence finding that is they key, shooting style will develop over time.

What are the clichés in street photography that you don’t appreciate?

I dislike too much post processing, and staged shots, we are humans and all of us have our own struggles to cope with hence when there is something which is beyond the normal I somehow feel a spectator doesn’t connect well (might do so on instagram what is known as herd mentality)

What is your take on social media influence on street photography?

I feel, there is a gap. People who are paying or judging the quality of a photograph on social media have most of the time no knowledge of the craft. Popularity and follower numbers decides your standing and value in social media. Like I answered previously I feel there is a herd mentality and some people lucky with Instagram’s algorithm manage to rule the roost by sheer game of follower numbers. More numbers attract community influencer opportunities and also gets you commissions. Sadly the numbers play a important role in the corporate world and hence quality work remain in the shadows .

What is the most underrated feature of street photography you wish everyone discussed more about?

More than originality of style I’d like people to appreciate honesty and consistency.

What differentiates a professional street photographer from the rest?

We can’t say “nothing worked today”.

Who are the street photographers whom you look up to and why?

The ones I like aren’t calling themselves street photographers, they are non celebrity photographers who make an impact with what they do. I really admire the work of Kevin Frayer.

Do you believe readings and studies on this genre does help? Which work you recommend and why?

Not only in this genre but reading makes one more aware. No specific recommendation as such. But I am inspired by Ruskin Bond and William Dalrymple – their content is visually rich.

Do you take photos for yourself or for others?

I shoot for myself, commissioned by others.

What message would you like to give other practicing street photographers?

To spare the birds of Yamuna Ghat (laughs). I would say and this implies to myself too that we all should now shift towards informative stuff, there is a lot of history / quirky facts in our country, lets sacrifice a few hashtags and write a line or two about those as well. “Mayank Austin of Hindustan Times does a fantastic job on that”

"Let's Tell Your Stories"

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