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FO2 Stage | Vipin Singh

by Team FO2, 24 Jun 2023

My love for photography started in Kota. Like most other students, I was preparing for JEE. I used to really enjoy clicking candid pictures of my hostel friends. So when I got into my engineering college I bought a DSLR and very soon started experimenting with it. 

It was only after watching a documentary called ‘Genius of photography’ by BBC, that I got introduced to the "Street Photography" genre that was something I liked doing. So, I started researching street photography, watching the works of amazing photographers. I came across Henri Cartier-Bresson's and magnum members of that era and it kind of changed my perspective on photography and inspired me. Since then my interest in street photography started growing and I just knew that I had to make a choice. I dropped out of the engineering college in 2nd year and came back to Delhi.

I knew I wanted to pursue photography as my full-time career but I had a hard time convincing my family in that duration. Everything was falling apart but I stayed strong and didn't give up. I started doing all kinds of commercial work. I took whatever came my way as I wanted to learn, make contacts in the community, and earn some money because street photography doesn't provide money very easily. I also started a studio for commercial work but it was affecting my street photography. I quit the studio, as it was plagued by non-profitability and fraudulent partners. Everything that comes across, teaches you something. I learned a lot about lights during my studio days which helped me develop my technical skills. During that time I was also very fascinated with filmmaking. So, when I met a group of filmmakers who asked me to join them in Bangalore, I just couldn't refuse. I started working with them and we were 4 members on the team. I used to do lighting and color grading. We started making music videos and stop motion videos. I consider my years in Bangalore were my learning years. We did different kinds of projects which kept us so busy that I got separated from street photography, once again. Even if I was keeping myself busy with different kinds of work, I would have never found that creative satisfaction in it like I get from street photography. I have realized that filmmaking was just a fascination for me but when I got into it, it didn’t feel connected. After 3 years in Bangalore, I kept thinking about street photography. It was the reason to get me started in this field and I wasn’t paying attention to it. I left that team and decided to be independent and focus more on Street photography. 

I wasn’t in a good mental place after I came back, I was trapped in many issues both, personal and professional. I started my street photography again and bought a Sony Rx100 as I wanted a lightweight good quality camera for my long walks on the street. I had to start it all over again but now I was more experienced technically so that was the benefit. As I started again, my mental state improved constantly and I got into a much better place. I started feeling the creative satisfaction that I was lacking all these years. I was doing everything more open-mindedly and with better ideas. Getting back into street photography also helped me with my introverted nature, I started becoming more communicative and active around people which hasn’t happened in years while working in closed studios.

I started meeting many photographers around Delhi and started learning from them. I also became friends with the National award-winning photographer Himanshu Singh Thakur, I started going on photo walks with him and learned a lot from him. It helped me improve my skills and I started practicing more and more towards developing my own style.
Street photography has its challenges, some people seem very happy to be in camera but some might be offended, and if they do you should be polite enough to delete their pictures. It is like a gamble sometimes you win it and sometimes you don’t.

Once my friend and I went to Mayapuri in Delhi which is an automobile junkyard, it was pretty old and raw so we were very excited about it but when we reached there with our cameras, the people from there frightened us to not take any pictures. Some issues were going on with the neighboring residents (which we get to know about later) and they thought they sent us to picture things against that place which might help them shutting it down. We explained our situation to them but they didn’t believe us and we agreed not to shoot anything and moved back. On our way back, my friend saw a statue of Lord Shiva on a tree which was very fascinating, he took out his camera and took one shot but those people saw us and they came running towards us, they were trying to snatch our cameras and we were trying to pull it back. Luckily, in around ten minutes police came in and protected us from the situation and later told us about how dangerous that place is. We were terrified since that incident and decided not to go to any shady place without proper research.

 These small incidents and experiences make you who you are, Social media is a great platform but you have to keep working on it constantly. There’s nothing called immediate success. It took me 2 years to see my work featured on other pages but now I got featured many times in different pages including Nat geo Your shot. It is very encouraging and motivating for me. I have also been a finalist in Hipa 2019, NatGeo Your shot exhibition at Photofest, Mexico & phosofia, Bulgaria.

 Instead of following the trends, shoot the subjects that you like. It can be anything. Study good artists, good masters, inspire by their work but don’t try to copy them and don’t stress out over the numbers. If your work is original, people will find you eventually.

Vipin Singh


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