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Street & People Photography in their environment

Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata
Joydeep Mukharji, a photographer from Kolakata, believes that an artist's work must be good consistently to be considered as an art. One must have ‘eyes like a shutter and mind like a lens’!!.... He likes to work for a cause, not applause. He was always interested in various kinds of sports, trekking and traveling. He started his photography in 2003 during a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp – Nepal. From this time forth this passion became an integral part of his life even while working in a Kolkata-based MNC. He believes that a photographer must be technically competent to use the various techniques to change a photograph from a mere snap to a “snapshot of someone’s life”. Photographs can be used to narrate a story, and thus should not cater to the aesthetic aspect only.

Translation by Meghana Shah


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

I am fond of “Street & People Photography in their environment”. Since my early days, I have been doing photography on this subject, as I always love to ‘work for a cause, not for applause’. I live life to express, not to impress! I think a photographer should be technically competent to use the technique, to change a simple snap to a “snapshot of someone’s life”. In my point of view a photograph can be used to narrate a story, so it should not be limited to the aesthetic aspect only.

The best thing about street photography is that, it allows the viewers to draw a greater meaning of it than the photographer has executed within a second. The best part of street, place, market or city is that; more things are happening, even within a small zone at any moment, than a human mind can comprehend. Photography allows us to freeze one of those moments and study all of the dramatics of the same. That is the reason why the photographer must have ‘the eyes like a shutter and his mind like a lens’, to capture the moments and happenings within a split of second.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

People often think of me as from old school, but still I am a blind fan of street photography and follow the pictures of the legends like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Raghu Rai, Steve McCray, ED Kashi, James Nachtwey, Sebastiao Salgado, John Stammeyer and many others. I do follow Magnum to improve and upgrade myself regularly, so I can add the variations to my snapshots, as the photographic world keeps on changing.

I am often attracted to break the rules, but still I can say one must have strong basics in any category of photography to execute a better frame. Here are some of the basics which I do follow on the streets at the time of photography. Let’s share some of them.

Be Candid:
Candid Photography refers to photographs clicked informally, without the person’s knowledge. While facing the camera, people tend to put on a fake photo-smile or they act differently, consciously. By being unobtrusive you can capture the unabridged side of a person and his/her daily life activities with true emotions.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

Get Involved:
When you want to capture a person’s true side you have to interact with them. While photographing children, getting involved with them is the best thing to do. Interact with them and let them play with you. They’ll smile, they’ll laugh after knowing you within some time and your camera will capture a genuine happiness. The same is applicable for elder or aged people. Make them laugh and tease them with the camera. Every now and then you’ll come across a gem of a photo which captures the true side of a person like nothing else!


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

Shade can be nice
Studio photographers can spend thousands on flash equipment that casts soft, even light on their subject. In the shade, nature tends to do all this for us. When we are in the outdoors, we find that softly shaded areas provide us with the best lighting. We may also find, same is the case with the indoors.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

Backgrounds can be Subjects too:
Background where a person is standing or what a person is doing can add new dimensions to the photograph. If we are photographing the locals in a different culture, try to capture the environment around them in the photograph. A few more important points to remember during street photography are, not being obsessed with the perfection, be unobtrusive – keep low profile, to avoid disturbing your subjects. While taking photos don’t worry about post processing, try to capture a strong subject. If the subject is strong and displays a story, processing doesn’t matter.

And last but not the least, always strive for more! For anybody who is interested in street/people photography, one thing you have to keep in your mind is you have to go out with you camera on street regularly! Else there is a chance that you might lose your bodily reflexes, as well as sharp quick thinking about the frame you want to capture. Missing good frame/story/candid moment can make you feel depressed at times. Sometimes those who are doing street/people photography love to cover a mass event, street moment or some cultural program on the street/road too. I would suggest carrying a camera body and a lens, so that you won't miss the opportunity.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

Here are some Composition Design suggestions which impact street photography -

Balance of the elements & colours:
One of my photographs is here– a colourful umbrella and a person inside that on the street – I have tried to portray a colourful street in the monsoon.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

Proper rendering of light using value:
Another photograph is of Shimla Mall, which displays the play of shadows. These shadows show a proper use of light on street.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

Centre of interest:
A woman on flooded street captures the centre of interest, with the environmental issues.

Perspective, Space division, Harmony, Movement, Rhythm:
The Photograph REFRESH YOURSELF and THE MUSK MAN are examples of the perspective, proper space separation and a perfect harmony.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

Direction of line(s):
In ‘The man coming down from the top of The Fort of Rajsthan’, the line of a narrow street towards the city implies the direction in which he is proceeding.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata

Positive/Negative Themes, Creativity: The Photographs – STOP, Two Young Ladies Dancing on the Street, Women are with Fire pots are the examples of positive and negative themes which we can see every day on the street. But creative ideas make photograph attractive, rather than a ‘snapshot’.

Positive/Negative Themes, Creativity: In photography or any form of art, you have to work hard... really hard - to achieve the perfection in the variations, the story and the expressions. Unlike T-20 cricket, photography is kinda test match – it takes time to improve yourself. From each and every mistake you will learn something or the other. See lots of renowned street/people photographer’s works. Follow Magnum website to get better ideas/compositions to identify the strong subject easily. This will certainly take your photography few steps ahead.


Street & People Photography in their environment Joydeep Mukharji, Kolakata














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