Conversation with Travel Photographer Saurabh Chatterjee

Conversation with Travel Photographer Saurabh Chatterjee

Q. Thanks for accepting our invitation. Please introduce yourself to our viewers.

I am Saurabh, a Travel Photographer. My dream in life is to see India. Being a Photography Educator, I dream to make every ‘camera owner’ a great photographer. After working in the IT industry for a decade, in 2013, I quit my job to travel and have been doing so since then. To make a living, I teach Photography and organise Photo-tours. I started my photography with my dad’s film camera in 1990 during our family trip to Puri.

Q. What made you get into the field of travel photography?

My first love is travelling. When I went to places, I wanted to bring back good pictures for my family and friends. That’s how I started.

Q. What is your definition of a good travel photograph?

A good travel photograph doesn’t just capture what you see, but how you feel. It should transport the viewer to the place by capturing its essence.

Q. Tell us about the different places you’ve travelled and your favourite places to shoot

I have traveled extensively since the last 20 years to almost every corner of our country (except Andaman and Lakshadweep) a lot in Europe and some in the United States long time back. My all-time favourite places to shoot in Ladakh and Spiti.

Q. What are the challenges you have faced as a photographer and how did you overcome them?

I was always a very shy and introvert person. I found it very difficult to connect to people. I had been working on myself as a person and my behaviour for a long time and got a little better. Also, India is a country of many different languages. Sometimes language can be a barrier, but I realised, its body language that matters most. I make sure, I know a few words of any language, at least to ask – “Can I take your picture please?” Adapting to the weather can be a challenge, to be on the safe side, I keep myself warm all the time when I travel to the Himalayas. I also eat very little food when I travel so that its easy for the body to digest.

Q. Share one of your memorable experience as a photographer .

There have been several. About 5 years back, I started making prints of pictures and giving it back to the people. On one occasion, when I reached the house of a gentleman’s picture I took in Spiti, his wife came out. When I took the print and gave it to her, she was almost in tears. It was her husband’s picture and he died recently in a road accident. That is one experience, I will always remember.

 

Q. How tough it is to take photography as a full-time profession ?

As a profession, for some, photography is one of the highest-paid professions – I’m talking about weddings or fashion photography. For most others, its a tough choice. Also, most photographers are good at taking pictures and not in marketing or business. The really successful photographers are the ones who have a good combination of both skills. Many photographers, just to get business to undersell them. This has made life difficult for the whole community of full-time photographers. With more photographers joining, the rates are also on a steep decline all over the world.

Q. Share your opinion about a photographer’s ethics and making a positive impact with photography.

I strongly believe the need to be a good human being before being a good photographer. Simple things like taking off shoes before entering a farmers house, not touching my subjects, asking for consent before taking pictures and giving back in some way. My policy is not to disturb or interrupt people in their chores but capturing them as is. I always believe to make the world a better place and do my bit to make a positive impact. I work with several NGOs to teach photography to the underprivileged and help them explore the beauty of our country or choose photography as a career option.

Q. How important for you to win an award in photography?

Initially, it can be a big encouragement to receive an award, but after a time it can become addictive. There are many photographers I come across who take only the kind of picture that will help them win an award and nothing else. I can also cost a lot of time and money. I would rather spend my resources travelling rather than spending time on applying for awards. That’s the reason, I have hardly received any. Its not important for me at all. So, IMO, it’s good to participate and win awards, but don’t a slave of them.

 

Q. Give me the name of some photographers that’s you think every travel photographer should follow?

I have been following many photographers for quite some time. Raghu Rai, Steve Mcurry, Ansel Adams and Sebastião Salgado have been my biggest inspiration. There are many photographers you can follow based on the type of travel photography you do. One word of caution though – don’t follow people based on the number of Instagram likes they have. I personally know some great photographers who are almost non-existent on social media.

 

Q. What does Saurabh Chatterjee love to do when not behind the camera?

It rarely happens that I’m without a camera. I love to read when I’m not with my camera or spending time with my family.

 

Q. Tell us about the cameras and lens you use. How important it is to choose the right digital camera and lens for a photographer? Do you have any dream camera or lens?

I have had many different cameras over the years starting from a film, then a digital Sony Cybershot and then various DSLRs starting with Nikon D50, D60, D90, D7000, D610 over the last 20 years. Currently, I use a Nikon D750 and D810. I am also quite impressed by the Fuji mirrorless cameras and use them frequently. I really don’t have a dream camera that I aspire to own. I dream to improve myself and get better. I’m thinking for a Nikon Z6 because of the video and low light capabilities. It’s very critical to choose the gear that suits your requirement. We first need to decide what we want to achieve and choose the gear based on that, not by seeing what others use. I remember, I used to have an 18-200mm lens for a long time and loved it. Many people might say, its not the best lens, but it really suited my requirements. Especially when I went hiking in the Himalayas, where I don’t have the luxury of carrying a heavy bag full of lenses on my back.

 

Q. What message do you want to convey to the aspiring travel photographers?

Most of the young generation is eager to travel which is good. They do it with a lot of enthusiasm for some time and then stop due to family or job pressures. I suggest people to be like a tortoise – slow and steady and continue for a longer time. Also, there is nothing called overnight success, which the youngsters expect. It takes a lot of time and dedication to build a decent image library. I get a lot of requests from people asking for likes and follows. I advise them to spend more time taking better pictures rather than asking for likes. There are no shortcuts! Period. Don’t know why people of this generation is so hungry to reach. It’s just becoming show off business. We used to take pictures for ourselves, for the love of Photography, not for the fake following 🙂

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Your Website link – http://siaphotography.in

Biography :

Nomination – Top 10 Most Influential People in Photography by Asian Photography magazine in 2018.

Nomination – ICIT Photography Awards 2018 by Innovative Council of Indian Tourism (ICIT)

Top Photographers Telugu States

Honorary  UPI Diploma in Photojournalism

Meritorious Service Award for Training people on Photography at International Camera Fair, Chennai.

Trainer of the Year 2015 – Photography Workshops

Featured by The Economist, UK in a documentary on Hyderabad

His works have been published in several national and international publications including the National Geographic Traveller, Lonely Planet, Timeout Explorer (UK), The Times (London, UK), Deccan Herald, Deccan Chronicle, Discover India, Timeout Explorer, etc.

Saurabh is the founder and mentor at SIA Photography where he teaches various aspects of Photography. He also organises Photo-tours to different places in India and around.

 

 

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