Bunty Gandhi, streetphotography in India
“We have accepted modern changes to society, but we have not left out tradition too. It is a way of celebrating life. As a street photographer, I try to bring these echoes and feelings in contrasts to my pictures. You just need to observe it, feel it and connect to it.“
How did you start doing photography? Is it your main job?
Photography is not my main job. I am account and work in tax field. In mid-2016, I was going through quite a tough time of my life and to overcome it, I started to click whatever looked interesting to me. At that time, my nephew told me to upload on Instagram. Initially, for a few months, I was shooting whatever I came across, but slowly I developed interest in streetphotography… but I was still far away from what you called real street!
What are the elements that characterize photography in your country? What is the state of the art of this medium in India?
Oh, there are so many. India is a very diverse country. As far as street/travel/documentary photography is concerned, India is a heaven because of its colors, festivals, diversity, traditions and even daily life activities on the streets. I would say that the state of photography -be it any genre- in India is doing quite well. Indian street photographers have been acclaimed on many international platforms. Though in past few years social media have made many street photographers more oriented to likes, reach and numbers, we still we have lot good street photographers.
How would you describe visually India? How is the syncretism of modernity and tradition developing? How does this characterize your photography?
As I said, India is very broad and diverse. I see there are some strong threads, which bond us together so well, in despite of so many religions, languages, and ethnicities as well as different cultures in the different states. Things go in parallel. We have accepted modern changes to society but we have not left out tradition too. It is a way of celebrating life. As a street photographer, I try to bring these echoes and feelings in contrasts to my pictures. You just need to observe it, feel it and connect to it.
Many of your shots propose a different look on life through the adoption of particular or unusual perspectives. What does this tell us of your idea of photography?
Adoption of particular or unusual perspectives does not develop in just one day. It is a continuous learning process. In my case, it is my limitations, be it with equipment or my personal condition, which have made me focus on things differently. You develop particular visions, ideas, perspectives, and connections between elements and layers out of this. You start to understand the universe like never before. So it’s about process and it’s important to know the right process.
Are you interested in bringing your street photography out of India? If yes, where? Why?
That would be great! It is a scary question for someone who has done almost all of his photography in a small city only. India itself offers so many varieties that I need to explore first. Cities like Delhi, Kolkata, and Varanasi are on my top most priority. Globally, I would love to visit Asian countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia…they have a very good trend of street photography. Moreover, from the pictures I have seen, I find colors of Cuba very fascinating!
You are part of @indiaspc. What is the goal of this project? How much do you think it is important being part of a collective to enrich ones photography?
I joined @indiaspc collective just recently and the collective is still in its initial stage but our goal is to highlight the good quality street photography of India that matches to the international level. I think it is very important to follow collectives even if you are not part of it… you get to know masters’ work from all around the world. It is a great part of learning.
And what about social media in general? What role do they play in extending the reach of photography in what are called developing countries? How do they shape also the idea people have of other countries?
They play an important role. See, a good photographer is a good photographer without social media too. However, with social media, more and more deserving photographers are getting recognition. Young photographers get inspired by masters works. I feel street photography has gained more popularity now in developing countries because of social media. And yes, social media surely change the idea we have of other countries. By observing pictures on social media, you become aware of quite many cultural things of other countries.
What is the greatest visual misperception you recognize in foreigners visiting your country?
I remember once I saw a tourist bus passing by my city. They stopped at a place for a while. I saw two foreigners clicking dustbins and cows searching for food in it. They were so excited that they eventually called all of their friends. However, things are changing. This is a great misperception. India has much bigger meaning than this. I know quite a number of street and travel photographers who love to come to India repeatedly. They feel they have a life changing experience here. We may not have prosperity like Western and European countries, but we are not the country of snake charmers anymore. Come to India and experience life!
The photographer you feel has more influenced your style? In what way?
Vineet Vohra from Delhi, India. He is absolutely a legend. It was only around August 2017 I came across his works and it influenced me like no other. I discussed his photos with friends all the time. To be honest, it was just after that I came to know him that I understood what real street photography is. I just love the way he connects so many elements in his photos, his layering work is just splendid.
There are severals like Gabi Ben Avraham form Israel, Stan De Zoysa from Spain, Suresh Naganathan, Himanshu Thakur, Anirudhha Guha, Vipin Singh from India, Maciej Dakowicz from Poland. Quite of my friends’ works too inspire me.. All of these have very raw approach.
Next and upcoming projects?
I am planning to do new series that are more themed in the near future. It could be anything, but such series challenge you more. Another project I want to do next is “Life in Coastal Areas.”
Credits: Bunty Gandhi
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