Where the Streets Have No Name

 

A Reflection of Life

Photograph/Subrata Biswas

Photograph/Subrata Biswas

“My painting has influenced my photography, and vice versa,” says Subrata Biswas. “Every art we practise or admire tends to influence the other, and that’s beautiful.”

When we were small, the local television network in Calcutta would show Satyajit Ray’s movies, which I would watch with child-like fascination. Years later, when I started painting, when I started appreciating composition, I realised that every frame of every Ray movie is a photograph.

Colour versus B&W should always be a deliberate, measured choice. Elaborating further, including a particular colour, or to print a certain tonality, is also a crucial decision. Photograph/Subrata Biswas

Colour versus B&W should always be a deliberate, measured choice. Elaborating further, including a particular colour, or to print a certain tonality, is also a crucial decision. Photograph/Subrata Biswas

While developing my street and documentary aesthetic, I have been greatly influenced by the framing devices that Ray would use. Apu’s gaze, his reflection in the water body, the whole idea of not showing the character directly… when the grandmom narrates the story, you see a stark shadow of her profile, when she passes away, you only see a pot breaking. Street photography has a lot to do with symbolism… what do you show, what do you not show, the choices you make will eventually decide whether you become a true auteur.

The whole idea of waking up with the city is what fascinates me most about photographing the streets. Photograph/Subrata Biswas

The whole idea of waking up with the city is what fascinates me most about photographing the streets. Photograph/Subrata Biswas

On Inspiration

Henri Cartier-Bresson and James Nachtwey have been indomitable influences on my work. Lately, Roger Ballen’s work has struck a great chord with me. His use of drawings as leitmotifs, the suspension of reality, the whole idea of ‘documentary fiction’… it’s inspired me to ask myself how I can find the surreal within the real, a nagging thought that has led to images like the clock portrait, on the right.

Every city has its own rhythm, recognising which would help you preempt moments. Photograph/Subrata Biswas

Every city has its own rhythm, recognising which would help you preempt moments. Photograph/Subrata Biswas

“I come from a painting background, and street photography, for me, is where composition meets emotion, where art meets heart.”

I prefer working on long-term documentary projects that have a street-inspired aesthetic, combined with a prolonged engagement with the subjects. Photograph/Subrata Biswas

I prefer working on long-term documentary projects that have a street-inspired aesthetic, combined with a prolonged engagement with the subjects. Photograph/Subrata Biswas

Engineer, painter, photojournalist, documentary photographer, Subrata Biswas wears plenty of different hats, some, at the same time. You can see more of his photography and painting work at www.subratabiswas.com, and on Instagram (@subratabsws).

 

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Tags: Arindam Thokder, Better Pictures, December 2015, dhruv dhakan, Manu Thomas, Monica Tiwari, Prasad Mahale, Raj Lalwani, Street Photograph, Subrata Biawas, Swapnil Jedhe, Vinay Panjwani, Vinod Babu