Sunday, August 3, 2014

Just as love happens without a notice, photography happened to me, says Anirban Banerjee

On a rainy evening, I came across Anirban Banerjee – a marine engineering cadet studying at Amet University and an amateur photographer (as he prefers calling himself). With his DSLR strapped securely, he was ready for action. If you walk by him, you probably won’t notice as he frames his camera from the hip, then clicks, and casually turns to pan one more. Growing up in Vizag, the Jewel of the East Coast, Anirban developed his love for photography with a cell camera and his childhood album. Later armed with a DSLR, he became mesmerized with the nature and the little slices of life happening all around him. He wanted to capture these – the reflections of everyday life – real, unaltered impressions of nature and environ. He made his camera the eyes and ears of the mundane nuances of life, capturing the mood in a fraction of a second, freezing a moment that all would forget in the same amount of time – to only enjoy the candid captures later on. Here’s a heart to heart chat with this budding photographer.

Films & TV World: What first drew you to photography - and how did you discover it?
Anirban Banerjee: I actually don’t remember what drew me to photography, but it just happened as love happens without a notice. I partially remember during my school days my friends had a mobile which had a cam in it. It was a big thing back then. We used to click pics in that. None of my friends neither do I could capture the perfect moments with it. So I decided one day I would make myself capable of not missing the moments again. Slowly as time passed I started capturing the precious moments with my mobile.I got my first still point and shoot camera which was a canon powershot, when I cleared my 12th with a good percentage. Now I am a marine engineering cadet and own a DSLR. I don’t consider myself as a photographer as I aint that good, but yes I do like to capture the perfect moments of nature as well as the things happening in and around my life.

F&TV: How did you find your calling in Nature photography?
AB: Seeing is believing. Nature is something which has the capability of surprising you each and every day. I am basically from Vizag where the beautiful beaches, the hills, the greenery, the lighthouse, etc. and even the nature can stun you. We see it on a daily basis, but at some right moments its picturesque perfect. I wanted to capture those moments and retain it to posterity.  

The other reason why I found my calling in Nature is cos I believe “Life is Short, Don’t miss the short and sweet memories in it". I do remember one day it was raining heavily; I was sipping my hot coffee and was looking outside the window. The view of the rain drops falling on the green leaves and the flowers looked magnificent. Such moments are rarely seen and I dint want to miss such a moment in life. This can also be called a call from nature.

F&TV: Any difficulties you encountered when you embarked on this profession?
AB: Frankly, photography to me is a passionate hobby, not a profession. I just enjoy capturing pics of nature and people around me. By profession, I am still a student of Merchant Navy with dreams of becoming something big in life, just like any other guy of my age. My parents have been very supportive of my choices in career and have never said no to me for anything. So when I started pursuing photography in my free time, they never objected me saying that it will affect your studies and all. However Mohan Das sir also supported me in this hobby of mine. You can say that he is my Mentor in Photography. Now I can proudly say that “I am a Merchant navy cadet and a passionate photographer“. So I didn’t face much difficulty when I embarked myself to photography.

F&TV: Any clichés in photography you steer away from?
AB: I don’t spend a lot of time on my picture to make it perfect. I’m not that particularly talented in terms of photography or—I’m not technically efficient. But I think the thing that I’m good at is bringing a good picture into life, no matter what. I do what it takes to get it done. I also believe, if it’s meant to be, it will be. I don’t steer away from anything. If anything is interesting in front of my camera, I capture it.

F&TV: How important is content versus form in photography. Which one plays a stronger role for you?
AB: Content and form are both very important elements in a photo. Every photograph is a fight between Form and content. A good photo is one which encapsulates an effective fight between composition and content. If content wins the photo is too conceptual and similarly if Form wins the photo is too graphic. But if both are balanced, the picture will be a good one.

F&TV: There are so many possible narratives for each of your photographs. What do you actually perceive when you are clicking them?
AB: When I am about to click a particular picture, there is something which comes in my mind. For example when I am about to click a picture of an old woman in a street, my aim is to let the picture reveal what I am trying to express - the emotions and expressions - and it should be able to speak on its own. If that happens, I guess, that’s the perfect frame.

F&TV: During your photo shoot - how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
AB: This is a tough one actually because I myself don’t know about it. However the way I work is that sometimes I have only a few seconds to capture a scene or frame a picture. Whereas sometimes I can slow down, plan the shoot and slowly execute the shot. So all depends on the situation.

F&TV: Do photographs naturally inspire or have more potential to inspire? Just the same way words do with authors?
AB: Absolutely!  Moreover, photographs have the capability of expressing or influencing more than words. Just by a glance it can express the thing which the photographer wants to express. But both the words and photograph are to be bound together to make it a perfect combination.

F&TV: Do you work with a very ordinary idea, yet very familiar, and very non-descript?
AB: I always prefer clicking things which are very ordinary and familiar and that are omnipresent in our day to day lives. These moments can happen anywhere, anytime in our daily grind, but we tend to overlook them. I live these moments and those who miss can savour those extra ordinary moments in my photographs and appreciate them. The whole reason I take these pictures is for those moments of clarity. For that single moment, everything seems to make sense in my world. And I think we all look for that in our lives, because our lives are generally filled with chaos and confusion and disorder and complication. And we all strive to find moments of clarity, of order.
F&TV: When shooting, do you look for something that’s familiar and yet strange or it’s enough for you to be strange and mysterious?
AB: Actually it depends. But yes I prefer to capture something which is both strange and familiar. But is also depends on the eyes of the viewer. Since a photograph is frozen and mute, since there is no before and after, the same photograph can be interpreted differently by the viewer. And that’s why I really try to bring in a conscious awareness or a narrative in those pics. Though it may be both familiar and strange for me, but for others it might be something very strange and mysterious. At such times, I deliberately avoid explaining the plot or anything like that. I want to privilege the moment. That way, the viewer is more likely to project their own narrative onto the picture.

F&TV: Do you get disappointed when you don’t get that near perfect shot?
AB: Definitely! For a fact not only me, you can ask any photographer in the world and he would also give you the same answer. You definitely feel bad and disappointed when you don’t get that perfect shot as you envisage. But as the moments in nature photography are just for an instant, you have to be content with what you get at times. Else, if you miss it, you never know if u can ever capture it again. Thinking that, it doesn’t get frustrating.

F&TV: Would you describe that as the motivation to do something better?
AB: Yes. It’s indeed a motivation and a lesson to be more agile and get that shot better before it fades to oblivion. Once you realize what you missed, you will take care next time and get that perfect shot.

F&TV: Nudity speaks 1000 words. What is the difference between nudity and vulgarity?
AB: People have made a line for nudity being vulgar. I guess, it’s just a state of mind as to how one perceives things. Nudity is a physical state of exposing the parts of the body that we generally cover in public. Vulgarity, contrarily, is defined not by the physical state so much as the reaction that people have to it. In summation, nudity is not by definition vulgarity. If it offends your senses, however, then you find it vulgar.

F&TV: Who are some of your favorite photographers, and how did they influence you?
AB: As I’ve told before also, I am not a pro photographer. So, I hardly know any photographers or have been keenly following any particular one. Photography is my hobby and a very important part of my life. I never had any formal training for this nor did anyone guide me through this. All I did is just take a camera and start clicking it. But yes, I still go through my childhood pics clicked by my dad. He has preserved my childhood alive in those memorabilia in the photo album. In a way, this can be called an indirect influence on me.

F&TV: What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?
AB: I want the viewers to appreciate the marvelous moments and the emotions which we see everywhere in our day to day life. My work shows these candid moments. Till now, I was pursuing it as a hobby, but am trying hard now to learn the finer nuances as a professional and master it.

F&TV: What are some tips/advices you would give to yourself if you started photography all over again?
AB: As to all those like me to whom photography Is just a mere hobby, I’d like to say that come out showcase your talent. There are people out there to admire your work. Don’t let your talent go waste by keeping it confined within you. Go for it! Grab the opportunity. Don’t think too much and don’t hesitate. And ya, don’t stop working as there are millions of people out there who are working twice as hard as you are. So Just Go for it!!

Thank you, Anirban for exposing us to the best moments captured by you. In short can only say, “Brilliant work by an extremely talented amateur” as you prefer calling yourself. Perhaps some day we will get to see more of your "captured moments" of life and scenery albeit as a professional. What a treat that would be! Till then, we will be waiting for more.

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