"A photo must have emotions to stand out" interview of Raj Sarkar, Kolkata based street photograph

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Raj Sarkar is a Street Photographer and Educator based in Kolkata, India. He loves exploring possibilities on street. His main object is to Freeze the emotions and actions of people.

Raj holds MBA Degree in Finance and Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Application. He is the founder of World Photographic Forum, Curator of APF magazine Street Photography.

He loves exploring possibilities on street. His main object is to Freeze the emotions and actions of people. He delivers lecture on photography in various Colleges and institutions like IIM (Indian Institution of Management), Union Chappell school etc. He also conducts countless workshops on street photography.

He also curates’ various exhibition and he has also been appointed as a judge in various competition. Raj is a recipient of various awards, recently he has won the International Puskar Mela Contest, Winner Wiplay Photo contest “India in Color”.Finalist of Garuda World Photo contest and HIPA and his work has been exhibited worldwide. He reviews various gadgets and camera including Fuji x camera for Fujifilm. His article has been published in all renowned magazine and websites in the world like Fujilove, Street Photography Magazine, USA, Viewfind, APF Magazine, Smart Photography, Better Photography, Asian Photography, Chiiz magazine, Saveus,121 clicks, National Geographic and more. Recently his photographs has been showcased in London Street Photography Festival and Indian Photo Festival.He was a executive member of Kolkata Inernational Photography Festival 2019 and Portfolio reviewer in the Street Category. A Photography book published from House of Lords consist of his 40 photographs .

Presently Raj Sarkar is the Mentor of FujiFilm India.

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Interview of Raj Sharkar

by Muhammad Imam Hasan

What motivated you to be a Street Photographer?

Ans: The unpredictive moments and candid nature of street motivated me to be a street


I know you are a service holder. How do you manage time for photo shoot in spite of tight job schedule? Job vs passion?

Ans: Yes, I work in Airports Authority of India in the capacity of Sr. Supdt (Finance). I perform general

duty which starts from 9:30 am to 6 pm. Saturday and Sunday being off day . Generally I do

photography every day, specially early morning and after office hours that includes

two holidays in each week. So, I get enough time to pursue my passion. In case of travel for

longer period or travel abroad I usually take Leave in advance. I have some responsibility

towards my job and I impart that seriously. It was never Job vs Passion for me. If I miss any

event due to office, its always next time as hundreds of event happening in India every day. I

personally, enjoy doing both i.e my office work and photography simultaneously. For me

photography is a philosophic journey so as the life. Everything is well connected but we have

to understand the metaphor. I believe, everything will turn in your favor as long as you enjoy

doing that with positive mind.

We street photographers are too much trend about replacing body parts and juxtaposition … don’t you think these are making street photography cliché?

Ans: First of all I must tell you that photography is an art and art is relative. As photographs are two dimensional so subject placed at different distance gets submerged into one entity and look like single body of art. Though this is a demerit yet we can use it in our favor. We must understand that camera can’t see like human eyes.

In art nothing is cliché except our very thought to stamp something as cliché. The word itself ‘cliché ‘ is a relative. Replacement any body part by another element or subject does not represent street photography only rather it’s a very small part of it. Most those beginners tries this kind of stuff and sometimes professionals too do these to have fun out of street photography. Street photography is very vast so we have to look at the other side of street.

Juxtaposition is a word which creates some confusion within some street photographers or viewers. I saw a photograph taken by Steve McCurry where some kids were playing with abandoned tank that was used in a war in past and the sky was so blue and the soil was almost red in color .The interpretation was like that “ In the photograph there is a contradiction with life and death. Here , the tank resembles death as its used to kill and the kids are symbol of young life. Here another interesting part is the contrast between the color of the sky in comparison of color of the desert.

Most of us consider that replacing any body part is juxtaposition only but it has got vast meaning. For me every photograph in some way is juxtaposed.

Do you take up any project or plan and then go out and shoot accordingly, or just simply go out without any such plan and shoot?

Ans: As I already said I love what is uncertain in street or impromptu and candid. I simply go out for shooting without any preconceived ideas and whatever comes in my way just try to capture but it has to be interesting. Reviewing our own photograph is very important. while reviewing, one may find various ideas, suppose you got same type of three or four nos. of photos where the mood is same or the color or anything that is interesting so keeping that in mind , we can shoot this type of more photo to create a series from our very next shoot. Sometimes we make plan and implement and sometimes we shoot then initiate plan, it’s a vise versa. I believe that a Journey should always start without a reason but after certain time it must have some reason but the journey is must. Implementation of any plan or ideas has some limitations but by doing our regular work which always can offer new ideas and the effect of that may be infinite. As a photographer we always should explore the possibilities of unique things.

What elements make photo stand out for you?

Ans: Emotion, Emotion and emotion… Here I am not talking about human emotions in a photograph only but emotion of colors, emotion of nature, emotion of surrender, emotion of music etc.A photo can connect you with various emotions even there are some unknown emotion which cannot be expressed in words also. While looking at a photograph if you feel any connection or attached with an emotion that may be referred as true decisive moment for you where nobody is standing between you and the photograph.

What are your inspirations in the field of photography? How did they influence you?

Ans: Past work of genius photographer like Henry Cartier Bresson, Ernst Haas, Michael Kenna, Raymond Depardon, Raghu Rai, Raghubir Singh are few names inspired me a lot. From recent time, the work of Rohit Vohra, Rammy Narula, Vineet Vohra , has inspired me though the entire universe is the source of inspiration for me.

All the photographers mentioned above are unique in their work. The variety they have produced in different condition of shooting is just marvelous.

What’s your future plan about photography and photography career?

Ans: I want to learn the craft as far as I can. Last year I joined as a Mentor Fujifilm India though to grow as a good photographer is my main aim and gathering knowledge through travel from every corner of the globe is my desire. I also share my views on photography in different platforms and photography workshop on regular basis. I do not have any specific goal for photography career.

According to you how should a typical camera for street photography?

Ans. Preferably a small camera that can freeze decisive moment is enough for me. In addition to that good low light performance and good dynamic range. When you have a small camera, people around you starts ignoring and they will never take you seriously as a photographer that’s the bonus for me to get candid shot out of any chaotic situation. I like Fuji Gear as Fujifilm offers various small cameras for all kind of photography.

Any Suggestions for young photographers?

Ans: For me every photographer or seeker of art is a learner. We all learn every day. But for those who are about to start their photography, I will advise them that just click everything with your fresh eyes and mind at least for two years. I firmly believe a fresh eye can do wonder as they are free from any preconceive ideas and guidance. Any kind of guidance from beginning creates limitation within an artist and stops natural growth. We should let them free from any guidance, they should click whatever they want to. After one or two years of practice they all will develop their own vision of seeing things uniquely. And to hone the skill, they need proper guidance or a quality workshop on photography to progress further. Photography is a philosophic journey and one must enjoy it by exploring possibilities in anything.




This Interview was taken by Muhammad Imam Hasan

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All Photos are Copy Righted by (C) Raj Sarkar

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