Photography is art and art is meant to be creative. This is the central idea of our series ‘Originality in Street Photography.’ Experienced street photographers sharing their respective point of view through their stories is how we intend on broadening the culture of street photography in terms of perspective and creativity.
We are thrilled to begin this journey of imagination and storytelling with an avid street photographer, Mr. Koushik Sinha Roy. An Uluberia, West Bengal based high school teacher by profession whose commitment to street photography has won him great recognition, enormous features, awards, exhibitions and so much more. Apart from teaching and street photography, he actively contributes to various social media platforms where learners gather. His photographs speak of what words can’t describe. He accurately describes his collection as "Lyrics of life- A journey from reality to dream & dream to reality."
Today, he is sharing his observation and story of street photography.
How you got involved in street photography in the first place?
The time was 2015 when one of my students suggested a Facebook group known as APF Magazine (Art Photo Feature) and asked me to follow its content. He saw my images and thought this very group may help to polish my work. It acted as a beginner’s guide of street photography to me. I learned a lot from the feature called ‘Feedbackfridays’ and expert opinions (as comments on photos) of the then admins and senior members of the group.
When did you know street photography could be your field of expertise?
By the end of 2016, I figured out that I have the potential to challenge myself so that I could dig deep down into my mind and enjoy the association of ‘heart’, ‘soul’, and ‘flow’ to create that special dramatic moment in my photographs which satisfy my hunger of creative expression. My only focus is to explore the world of street photography and becoming an expert in this field never mattered.
What is street photography for you?
Street photography is a therapy for me. This specific expression has few facets like a). It makes introvert people like me extrovert while shooting, b) it feeds my aesthetic hunger, c) it provides the ‘challenge’ factor which I enjoy much and d) this genre has no specific demarcation boundary which leads people like me to experiment a lot.
Street photography is a feeling of a stolen moment where every element falls in its place. It can be a psychological drama of an unusual or weird scene, or a visual of a questionnaire full of mystery, or a piece of abstract formation of life in chaos where the photographer’s delicate observational skill and framing matters.
What's the most unusual feature of street photography?
If there is any rule in street photography, it’s only the ‘candidness’ which makes this genre so interesting and challenging at the same time. This very aspect sometimes leads to unusual incidents in the street: people objects on being photographed without consent. It’s absolutely understandable though. But in India, we don’t have to face this much as people love being photographed.
How important is the originality of work in street photography?
Original work (in the sense of original ideas or thought-process) always reveals the individuality of a photographer that makes him/her work distinctive from others. So, yes it is important, otherwise, you are labeled as a ‘copy-cat photographer’ which indirectly gives credit to the artist you copied.
How can artists find their independent styles?
Independent style: I don’t know if I have it. I think I take every kind of image. But yes, have preferences or inclination towards lyrical, poetic, evocative and mysterious images.
A photographic style gets developed with increasing experience and maturity. Manifesting experience of life into photos with stability may be helpful to create a style. The photographer makes sure if it is independent or not by his/her personified nature. I always believe that every photographer has their unique potential, but they are trapped by the outwardly glow of the diamond box. They need to dive in and experience the real majesty of a diamond inside. Hence a photographer develops his/her independent style when he/she is independent by nature, experienced, matured, and always dives into the inner self to proceed.
What are the clichés in street photography that you don’t appreciate?
Visit street photography groups on Facebook, there is 70% of cliché photos. I don’t like photos that don’t ignite a strong sense of feeling in or within me. Visual tricks/pun is like passing showers for me right now, but when done with originality and perfection, it can be also very effective and profound.
What is your take on social media influence on street photography?
Social media has merits and demerits since its inception. It’s the photographer’s personal choice to decide which social media platform he/she needs to stick to. Even though facebook bores me these days but it’s still the easiest way to connect people around the world. Although Flicker is not so user-friendly but still it is the best for street photographers in my opinion.
Since some random lesser-experienced folks started their own groups or Instagram handles for sake of fame, popularity, and money (through paid exhibition) the beginners in the field of street photography are drawn towards negative direction in India. The ‘like-culture’ on Facebook and ‘followers-culture’ on IG have worsened the scenario. From my personal experience I am saying this, ‘everybody wants to lead, nobody wants to follow’. I am still a student to this craft and always will be because a true teacher never stops learning new things and unlearning the mistakes.
What is the most underrated feature of street photography you wish everyone discussed more about?
A street photograph is a psychological bridge between the photographer and the viewer. These two sides connect well when this very bridge conveys a strong feeling or creates a dreamy mood which has a profound impact. In order to create this impact, a street photographer supplies the emotional puzzle to viewers. Now it’s up to the viewer if he/she can decode this puzzle and unlock the treasure so that he/she can feel united with the emotion and mysteries of the photographer.
What differentiates a professional street photographer from the rest?
Well, I am not a professional street photographer; I do it on my personal urge, i.e. a hobby. I am going to answer this question in a different way. A good street photographer is always ready (having good reflexes), possesses delicate eyes to see the rhythm in chaos, intuitive, dilute him or her in an unfolding scene, calm and composed, and self-confident. These above qualities differentiate a good photographer from the rest.
Who are the street photographers whom you look up to and why?
I love soulful, evocative, mysterious, ambiguous, emotional and original images and thus those who take these types of images I follow their work, namely (only contemporary artists)- Stavros Stamatiou, Rohit Vohra, Ania Klosek, Barry Talis, Bojan Nicolic, Muhammad Imam Hassan, Swapnil Jedhe, Taras Bychko, Udai Singh, Bragdon Brothers, Julie Hrudova, Dirty Harry, Forrest Walker, Gulnara Samoliva and so on.
Do you believe readings and studies on this genre does help? Which work you recommend and why?
Yes, street photography is such a genre where one needs to have a basic knowledge about it first hand. I recommend Eric Kim’s blog for starters. Here is the link: https://erickimphotography.com/blog/.
I found his compositional and geometrical tutorial very helpful for beginners. I already mentioned some names of contemporary photographers in the previous question. Following their work also helps.
Do you take photos for yourself or for others?
I do photography to express myself, not to impress others.
You have a very unique style of finding stories in very subtle things. What do you attempt to portray from these works?
A Photograph wears the expressions of the photographer. My psychic features are reflected in my photos and since I am not a good speaker or writer, I express myself through photos.
What message would you like to give other practicing street photographers?
Follow your gut-feeling and believe in yourself that you can make the difference. Don’t get delusional by the desire of fame and prosperity. Success follows them who are hard-working, sincere, and honest. History only remembers those who are odd and different from others, so be different.
Presently he’s been working on a series ‘Duos,’ a collage of two photos which when looked at separately holds no connection but when combined together these photos narrate its creator’s brilliant skills, sense of humor, and distinctive outlook for street photography.
Learn more about his work at koushiksinharoy.com
We will be sharing more stories from other innovative street photographers with you soon.
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