I started my photography journey quite late in life when I was well into my forties. It started when a couple of years back I got a set of camera and lenses as a gift and it coincided with my tour to some European countries. I took lots of images, experimented with framing relying largely on my previous interest in painting, and when I showed the photos to some experienced photographers, many encouraged me to pursue them seriously and professionally.
Since many people encouraged me, I have tried different genres including wildlife, landscape, studio, travel, and documentary. However, except for the last two, I have not stuck with the others. But it has helped me appreciate the hard work and planning that goes behind each genre. I have persisted with street photography since I love the challenge it offers me. I love to catch the candid moment, a moment that is unique in every sense.
It was 2012 and I was just taking my baby steps into photography when I decided to travel solo and document the Jallikattu event in Tamilnadu. Out of many solo trips I took all these years, going to Russia to cover the Football World Cup in 2018 is something I remember with fondness. It was my first big assignment outside of India and I had stayed for almost two months in a country I had never been to, a language I did not speak. But after the initial logistical challenges, it was a great learning experience, traveling from one city to another, getting to meet and photograph the football greats like Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar. Later that same year, I traveled to Norway. It was a low-budget exploratory trip and I was using as much public and shared transport as possible. I happened to be on a 15-hour ferry ship from one coastal town to another. During one of the brief stops, I had got down from the boat to take some photographs around the dock and to my surprise and shock the ferry ship sailed off without me. All my luggage was on the ship, I was left only with my mobile, camera and purse. I was heartbroken at first but after settling down, I made inquiries to find that my destination was reachable by taking the road route - changing five buses one after another. So without further ado, I began the great adventure only to catch my ferry boat by the late evening. While it was an alarming situation, the way I dealt with it, gave me the confidence for future tours, that no matter how bad a situation I am in, I can handle that.
As soon as I get an assignment or I decide on a self-project, the first and foremost thing I do is as much research work as possible. Any kind of documentation, knowledge, and information is of primary importance. One cannot and must not dive into a project blindly. If the story is something related to culture, it is important to study the traditions and history before starting the project. If time allows, and if it is a long-drawn project, I would also do a prior fact-finding tour.
If you are a travel photographer, I would say look beyond the obvious while touring a place. Do not dive headlong and start clicking as soon as you arrive. Feel the pulse of the place; mingle with its people, then only you will get the true essence of a place. At the end of the day, stay true to your heart, see as many photographs but believe in originality instead of imitating.
- Lopamudra Talukdar
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