Eric: Hey, what's up street dogs! This is Eric Kim from the Eric Kim street photography blog. Currently in Kolkata with my homeboy Krishnendu, so Krish, why don't you introduce yourself to the viewers out there?
Krish: Hello, I am Krishnendu from Kolkata. (Eric: And speak up because it's kind of quiet) I am a street photographer from the city. My profession...I am a teacher, so photography is thing that makes me feel happy. I take photographs forever.
Eric: So, you know, you--I shared some of your work on my blog recently and you told the story of how you first got into photography through the father. So maybe, why don't you tell us a little bit about your early experiences with photography and maybe how you kind of discovered that street photography was really interesting to you?
Krish: Yeah well, my father, he took me my first camera, so that was a small little camera called V803IC. And I still have that camera. And I remember my first shot, it was in the winter afternoon, a person was sleeping on the road. And the heat of the sun, the sun rays were on his face. Still The person was sleeping comfortably. I found it really interesting and I captured it with shivering hands because it was my first photo and I was taking out my camera in front of so many people. They were staring at me with some weird looks: ''What do you think this guy is doing with the camera in the street?'' Still I took the photo.... so that was the first experience, I mean that was my first photo. And after that when I came back home and I saw the photo in my PC I found that it was so interesting that the person was sleeping in that heat, in that sun ray. And I found that these moments of street life, it was so much interesting which I never noticed in that way. I noticed, I saw those moments passing by, but I didn't care about it that much. But from that very first shot I found I fell in love with people. I started loving people these stranger's, lone people, I started loving them more. so that is the best part of street photos and I think that's why I'm so interested in street photos because it makes you get closer to the people
Eric: We were talking earlier about how a lot of other photographers, when they're shooting, maybe in India, that it's not so much about interacting with the people, but they stand really far away and use huge tele-zoom lenses, stuff like that. What's your opinion about that?
Krish: Opinion, I should not give [an] opinion about that, but I think I prefer to shoot people at more close, I should get closer to people so that the person will also get comfortable with me. I can connect to them. If I make them so much distance, then my photograph will also reveal the distance between me and my subject, what I'm trying to photograph, what I'm trying to convey. So I prefer to go closer.
Eric: Yeah, 'cause you shoot a lot with your Nikon D90 12 to 24 lens, which is a very wide lens. And, you know, I think one of the difficulties a lot of street photographers have is, you know, getting close to people. So if you see somebody you find interesting and you want to photograph them how do you tend to approach them? Like, do you just go take the shot? Do you talk with them first? Or something in between? How do you make your subjects feel comfortable?
Krish: Yeah, it depends a lot on the situation, because if I need a candid moment, then obviously I will not talk to that person previously. If I talk to him, then that's wanting ... So I'd obviously take the photograph first, and after that, I'd always prefer to show that photograph to that person, "see, I have taken that photograph of you." I have done this thing many times, that I've taken taken the photograph without informing that person, that person didn't even know that I had taken a photograph. ... I went to that person and showed him the photograph, and I never got any bad experiences, bad reaction from them. They always enjoy that, and they thank me, and sometimes, this also happened that they give me their e-mail ID and ask me for the photograph. Again, if I need a photograph of that particular subject or that particular person, then that candid moment is not that much required. I can shoot from the date front (?). I can take a photograph of that person from the date front. Then I obviously go and ask that I want to take a photograph. It just depends on the moment. It's kind of finding -- in between both. If I say I want to shoot it first then I shoot it, or if I want to be closer to that person, then I will go. That's the difference.
You told me about one of the projects, some neighborhoods you visit over and over and over again. Can you share about like how you would, you know, get the people to trust you, and also like how you gave prints and stuff like that, that story you told me before.
Oh, yeah yeah. Previously those, long ago, I mean long ago means one year ago, I went to a particular village, countryside of West Bengal, where I shoot a particular family. And uh, after shooting I went and came, but when I went there first, so they were bit, kind of skeptical, what this person, particular person wants to do with these photographs, why am I so much interested to take their photographs. After that, I initially, I went there and, uh talked to them mostly instead of taking photographs I talked to them, I just, uh, trying to be, I was trying to be more comfortable with them, and make them comfortable with me
So..after that I started taking photographs, I had to convince them also that I had no such any other bad intention or something etc etc..So after that they were very much comfortable with me while taking photographs and they helped me out- while taking the photographs and when I gave them some of my prints..and some of my prints-they were SO excited-I mean they were so so happy about all those photographs and they invited me for lunch also and when I say that I don't have much time for lunch..they insisted that -to make sure so that I can come again-not for the photographs since I have completed taking all the photographs-they were not sure whether I will come back again or not..they asked me 'please come there for lunch at least whenever I get time. And I actually went there..and it was fun..it was fun..the food.. with them..they are so- such a nice people...so..so..just so innocent..they don't have that much of complication in their mind and they can easily offer you whatever they have-like that. It was nice experience over there.
ERIC: It's really wonderful to see how you get people to feel a lot more comfortable around you. I think its always more difficult to shoot when you're a local than-rather than when you're a tourist. So for example, I've been here in Calcutta. I've been taking photos of locals -oh you know its like a-an Asian tourist-and its like-they're all just really open to me-all very friendly-they don't mind me taking their photograph. But as an Indian taking photos of other Indians-its not as apparent that you're a tourist or whatever so-how do?-how do people tend to react according to that-y'know?
KRISH: The most common question I have ever heard that: What will you do with these photographs? How much money will you earn by selling these photographs..they will not react badly..they never do so- but when you are photographing a person..when you are doing your work with full honesty..then this kind of questions..or this kind of attitude makes you feel bad..it pushes you a little bit backward. so, these are the things. But they never react in a bad way..they will not harm you..but yeah, it will be bit difficult ..it is a bit difficult for us..local guys..uh to shoot local people because they are more skeptical about us that: what are our intentions ..or something like that. So, it takes much time to make them comfortable with us or convince...
ERIC: Yeah, well, its interesting because as an Asian guy with a camera its like almost any single country I've been to -including America they just think like-I'm just like a dumb Asian tourist with a camera-which a good cover for me but even when I'm in Asian countries like Japan or Korea- I actually have a difficult time because: people are like: I look like a local and they're like: why you taking photos of us whereas you know if I was a foreigner in Asia then it'd be not as obvious. When it comes to street photography in India, how would you describe-you know- the current state of affairs and maybe share a little bit of story on how you joined the Indian Street Photography Collective :that's Life -maybe the influence and how its helped you as a photographer?
KRISH: It has helped me a lot-it has helped me a lot -I ..even though through Facebook it is very much easier to see-to go through different works of different photographers-but still - I didn't know -Arindam Thokder <missing name>, Amit Chakravarty..I was not familiar with them. So, joining that's Life- I found their work-I mean-they're awesome- I learnt a lot..Prashant's uh-they're amazing each one has a-their own language-their own style-so, it was a learning experience-it IS learning experience..I'm learning from them everyday..and about joining..it was just a normal thing-send in the port folio..i knew the few people earlier..i send in the portfolio and everyone thought that it was good enough (laughs) so, they accepted me as a member.
ERIC: Cause y'know before you joined That's Life would you say that's its very difficult just working by yourself in terms of finding direction and ..?
KRISH: no-and yeah. Difficulty in work-that is same here-now also
but yeah.. finding direction as I said earlier that uh-