Thanks for sharing some work with us Swapnil. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?
It’s a pleasure to interact with team UPSP. I would like to thank you for providing an opportunity to showcase my work on UPSP.
I am born and brought up in the lovely city of Pune (India), which is known for a distinct laidback and cosmopolitan culture. I have completed my education in applied arts. Currently, I am working as an art director in an advertising agency. My first instance of using the camera came in early 2012, when I started clicking pictures just to break the routine mould. It was then that I discovered my initial liking and later on, passion for photography. One fine day, I accidentally came across ‘That’s Life’, an Indian Street photography collective. It excited the budding street photographer in me.
From behind the lens, I consider myself as an entertainer. I entertain myself and the viewer. I try to make my pictures as simple as possible so that even non-connoisseurs can enjoy it, with their own interpretations. Exploring the hidden art within boring mundane life that we live, has driven my passion for street photography.
The idea of capturing that ‘magical unseen moment’ from a very ordinary-looking scene is a thrilling prospect for me. If you observe, most of my pictures have a surprise element or a twist in them. It serves like a hook for the viewer, who can sit back and spend some moments with the picture.
The compositions that you use in your work are often very busy, and other times are unconventional. Can you talk a little about this?
Normally, I shoot only when something pleases me the most, which is either a story or a scene. In fact, as I look at it, every scene lets our imagination craft a story behind it. As I stated before, I want my viewer to spend some time looking at the picture and observing it in his/her own way. For that, I try and organise the visual clutter (which is and will always be an integral part of India and its landscape) in my compositions, so that eyes flow swiftly all over the frame. At other time, I click a special moment which might evoke viewer’s imagination. The results thus differ with the elements present in the frame. Eventually, my compositions are not deliberate efforts but natural instinct. I don’t over-think about the composition while shooting :), rather I see a story or a moment, and capture it as I see it.
You mentioned in an email to me that you had started working on a project, would you share a little about it?
Not exactly. I think it is getting developed simultaneously, from my body of work. Over time, I can spot some visual threads in my portfolio. In the future, I might put together these images and see if some form of a project or a collage takes its own shape.
You also mentioned that you prefer to shoot single images than projects. Is there a reason for this?
My photography is heavily time constrained, since I’m a working professional and also a family man. While shooting a project excites me, it also demands greater time commitment. I’m a street photographer at heart who loves to capture a moment and tell a story in a single image. I don’t plan anything before leaving for a shoot. I just shoot whatever comes to me.
You talked a little about your home town and shooting there. I have been told that capturing candid images in India as a foreigner can be hard as cameras tend to draw people, is this a challenge that you have as a local as well?
Yes, people do get curious if I wander with camera into the public places. Many think that I’m a press photographer and shooting some stories for a newspaper. If something illegal is going on, they get upset by the camera. But it is not always like that. Here in India, people love getting photographed 🙂 If you are trying to get a candid moment of a person, the other guys around ask that person to smile for picture. This makes candid photography, a bit challenging. And for a foreigner it becomes tougher.
If I come across any interesting spot, I simply wait and hang around. People get bored after some time and return to their routine activities and don’t mind if I shoot later.
The framing in your work is really spot on a lot of the time. There is conjecture in some people about cropping in Street Photography. What side of the fence are you on? Is cropping images something that you sometimes do to improve images? Can you talk a little about why or why not?
I’m an applied art graduate and my education helps me a lot when it comes to composition. While framing, I unconsciously avoid unnecessary elements and get rid of clutter, which I think, is a crucial factor.
I don’t get why some people oppose cropping. Is it really an unethical practice? Fixing the tilt or cropping the minor distraction at the edge can add a lot to the image. But, of course it has to be in limit. If you get everything right while shooting, nothing like it.
Shadows play a big part in some of my favourites of your images. Do you plan to shoot during times when the sun will be at the right angles?
I always look for some intriguing element to make my picture more interesting. I don’t deliberately look for shadows, but, it’s fun to juxtapose shadows with something mundane and create a story out of it. Definite shadows are the sign of good light and it’s always pleasure to shoot in such light.
I know you’re a member of That’s Life. How do you find being a member of a collective. Can you talk a little about how it benefits your work?
That’s Life inspired me to get into photography and now, I’m a part of it. It’s really a proud feeling. I must say that, whatever little I have achieved is due to That’s Life and I would like to thank every member of it; especially Kaushal Parikh for being very co-operative and supportive.
TL is probably the only street photography collective from India. Every TL member has his own style and is always keen on pushing Indian street photography to the next level, which makes it really a great platform.
Lastly, are there any parting words you would like to leave our readers with about yourself, or the images that you have shared with us?If any of the images featured here made you surprise, smile or think for few moments; I consider it a success!
Would you like to contribute to Urban Picnic with a series of images or be interviewed?
Sign up belowGuestGuestGaurav Khedekar