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Interview with Zulfi.

15 Feb Sandy

First , Can you tell us a little about of you and how you got started with Photography ?

I’m Zulfikhar, Travel Photographer based in Chennai. It all began when my passion for photography started as a child when my parents gifted me a film camera. As technology progressed and photography equipment became more accessible to everyone I pushed myself to discover the unexplored. I travelled to remote areas to find the undocumented, explore the unexplored and share the unseen.

Where do you get your inspiration for Photography ? 

My first ever inspiration was Timothy Allen, an English Travel Photographer. Later I found inspiration in every good image of all the photographers I came across.

Specially what is your favorite subject in photography? Which is your main genre?

People are my favorite subject always. I love to shoot Environmental Portraits during my Travel.

We know that you were Dubai based for a long time. Now you are in your hometown Chennai, India.

When you used to take snaps in Dubai and you take snaps in India…are there any differences you notice as a travel photographer? 

Yes a lot of differences. For instance, back in Dubai, it is not easy to shoot people! But it is not an issue at all in India. also there a lot of possibilities to shoot different genres in India. People are really very friendly in India.

Could you please guide the techniques of clicking the people’s faces and their lifestyles of the core areas? Because most of them won’t allow to be clicked always?

The formula to shoot people is really simple! First we need to make sure that you are as friendly as possible and approach with a smiling face. Talk to them for a while about their place and life, have a good interaction to break the ice. Most importantly, seek for their permission before you shoot. Then once you get the permission, choose the right background, light and capture your shots.

What are the gears you are using when you are clicking
☑️Commercial works like fashion
* kindly share some specific settings too which you like the most…

There are no specific gears for specific genres. Initially I had a canon crop sensor camera – Canon EOS 70D, then I upgraded my kit with a full frame body – Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Later on I also started shooting with Nikon bodies such as D810, D4s, D850 etc. I always prefer to shoot at Aperture priority except during fashion shoots at studios, where I always prefer to shoot on Manual mode.

Why are those gears much needed?

It is for the Dynamic Range. With rights gears you could get the most of what is available at the time of shoot itself. Post processing becomes easier and less time consuming.

Whose work has influenced you most ?  

There are quite a few names that would pop instantly, they are Timothy Allen, Jord Hammond & David Lazar.

Among your works , which one is your favorite ? Can you please share this photo ? 

It is hard to pick one favorite! There are quite a few, but I would say this particular photo would top the list because it was published at the Somerset Museum, London as the most commended shot.

Can you please share your any memorable experiences on your recent activities at your visiting to the places for photo shoot purposes? Ex- Kerala.

There was this one particular incident which happened during my visit to Kerala for shooting Theyyam Festival. It was 2’o clock at night and I was waiting to shoot the event which would start by 3am. Since I did not have any food earlier, I felt so hungry. There weren’t any shops or hotels available around, so I decided to go to the temple and ask if there was any food left, as they always provide free meals to all who attend the festival. Unfortunately it was all over. I walked back with disappointment. But suddenly a voice called out to me, a man from the temple management got me a full meals and said that was the last plate left. It was really touching. I felt so grateful. This is India for you, Unity in Diversity. I would never forget this incident.

Any favorite places you always love to visit…or any dream place?

The list is really long! I would love to visit Sikkim, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Myanmar and Camobida in the near future once this pandemic ends.

Any guidance for the amateur photographers?

Keep shooting, Keep learning! Be fully aware of the gear you use. Take feedbacks from others. Always improvise.


Interview with Street Photographer Cosmin.

15 Feb Sandy

  1. Can you tell us a little about of you and how you got started with Photography ?

I live in Bucharest, Romania, I’m 35 and I’m addicted to photography. Especially to street photography. When I was a boy, I was dreaming of becoming a coreographer or to work in the music industry, but I ended up graduating the Academy of Economic Studies. A total loss of time. I didn’t like it at all. As a student, I started working as an editor and voice over for a radio station, and after graduation I found a job in television. Again, a creative medium. Nowadays I’m still in television, working as a video editor. I am an active person and when I really like something, I totaly devote myself to it. No sacrifice is too big. I like to respect people and to be respected. I like to believe that photography is the best medicine, at hand and quite cheap. And it goes very well with music. For the last 3 years I’ve been an admin of the international street photography group OnSpot. During all this time I had the pleasure to promote excellent photographers and I got to learn a lot from them. I was part of various street photography exhibitions, as those from the Miami, London, Milano or Bruxelles festivals. 

  1. Where do you get your inspiration for Photography? 

From films, music and everything related to the visual domain. From the photographs which I see daily, from different talks with my friends. Photobooks play an important role as well. 

  1. What does ‘street photography’ mean to you?

For the last 5 years, it became some sort of an addiction. Or maybe it was from the beginning, but I have a different understanding of things now. It’s a lifestyle…And even if I wanted to quit more than once, I couldn’t do it.

  1. Who are the Masters of Photography who inspired you most in your photographic works?

Joel Meyerowitz. Trent Parke, Alex Webb, Elliot Erwitt, David Alan Harvey, Constantine Manos have a special place… But there are many otthers.

  1. What first drew you to street photography—and how did you discover it?

I don’t recall exactly what made me want to take photos of what I was seeing. It just came to me I guess. It happened about 15 years ago, when I touched the first camera. Many stories to tell since that day.

  1. Are you believe that observation is the main thing in street photography ? 

Yes, observation is a key factor in getting a good image and also in evolving as a photographer. But in order to develop a sense of observation you need to back it with lots of work and patience. Time is no ally either…

  1. Black white or colour and why ?

It doesn’t matter to me if a photograph is in color or in black and white.

It’s the message that matters. I think it’s every photographers decision what he or she wants to pass on. Lately I’ve chosen to edit in color, but this doen’t mean that if an image would look better in bw I won’t edit it that way. It depends a lot on circumstances and the message. In both cases, I try as much as possible to show the mood I observed while photographing, and not to distort things. After all, life is so colorful that it would be a pitty not to show it. I think a photographers should follow their own style, their gut, and the message they want to convey. An image doesn’t have to be in bw to be timeless.

  1. In a street picture, do you think the contrasts of light are important to tell a story or are just an aesthetic fact?  

The light can certainly create stories through the shapes it creates. I believe though that it manages to help the composition especially through the volumes that it gives. The study of light in the street is a good exercise…to try to minimalise the composition with the help of light or on the contrary, to paint with light in a complex image.

9.    Taking a shot in the street could be difficult at times; dealing with people’s reactions or making sure it is not invasive in the various situations that could arise, is not always easy. What is your approach in these circumstances?

Getting closer to the subject is a big challenge. You don’t know what the reaction will be and it is always a risk taken. That is why I believe it is important to smile, to be opened, so that you won’t be seen as a menace to them. I get quite close to my subjects, sometimes I shoot from the hip in order not to alter the subject’s state of mind or being in the moment. Once you are being noticed, the photographed ones change their attitude. Things have changed, as the Covid crisis came along and people’s behaviour changed. It will be more difficult to get closer. A real challenge now.

10.     What is your approach with your camera when you are shooting unknown people in the street? This is a problem for many photographers: how do you manage it or how did you overcome it?  

In the beginning I used to avoid photographing people. Little by little I realised that what doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. For me listening to music really works, I act as a tourist in my own city. And people feel that. I have no problem with photographing strangers.

11.   Which subjects, both people and places, inspire you most and make you to look for the shot, or that you think better represent your city and your land?  

I think variety is very important in photography. So I try not to think in advance of a subject, when I go out. I might get lucky and catch a candid moment or just the everyday simplicity… Having options is a plus in my opinion. If the location has photographic potential as well, then it’s a real bonus.

  1. Do you think is there something unique in the street photography that distinguishes it from other genres?  

Yes, the sincerity and naturalness of the moment. The liberty of not answering in front of anybody for the way you want to depict reality.

  1. In recent years, Street Photography has boomed, what do you think it’s due to? And what evolution has there been?

I would begin with the second question…I think we are dealing with a decline nowadays in street photography. Lots of cliches, people just want to imitate in order to get fast appreciation and recognition. Street photography has boomed judging by the number of images, not necessarily through quality.

14.  What kind of gear do you use?

I use my  Fujifilm XT2 with a 8 mm lense , in 95% of the cases.

15.   If you want to start any other categories then which genre do you want to start and why?   

I am attracted by documentary photography. You dedicate yourself to a cause, you get pretty involved and it requires lots of time, it needs to let things settle down. It seems very difficult to me, but that is why it is so challenging. 

  1. Which are the limits of ethics in a street picture ?

Respect for the photographed people is what matters first and foremost, in my opinion.

There is a limit to all things. I try not to get to the limit and not to depict  my subject in humiliating way.

  1. Among your works, which one is your favorite? Can you please share this photo?

And please share your best six photos .

I can’t name a favourite. I just hope that some day I will have an image that will count for something, or will be able to change something.

  1. How has social media played a role in your photography?

Every Friday, I promote a photographer on a fb page: On Spot Gallery. I’ve seen thousands of images trying to get the best selection for the page and I can say it helped me grow, from a visual point of view. On Instagram also, I discovered many good photographers. Social platforms are a good thing, but only to a certain point.

  1. What tips or advice do you have for others who are started with street photography? 

The best advice that I got from a friend, also a photographer, was not to look for the sensational. From that moment on, I started to appreciate much more simplicity, and the banal. Another advice that I would give is for them to try anything, without restrictions, to let their imagination fly and to be inspired by other photographers. Attention though… to get inspired, not to copy, because it’s a big difference. We all sort of change our perception through the images we get to see daily. I think in this case the Internet doesn’t help. What works for me, doesn’t neccesarily work for you as well. Without work and practice you can’t achieve too much. I believe that one of the biggest asset a photographer can gave is perseverance. Nothing falls from the sky and you have to make sacrifices and to be passionate enough not to perceive things that way. Another advice is for them to buy photobooks, as nothing compares to watching printed images, to attend workshops when possible and to be opened to new experiences. Also to watch as many films as possible (films with photogeaphic potential) and to be amazed by the things and places they encounter on the way. To write down their ideas, not to be afraid of new things and to believe in themselves because they are unique. Not to forget, modesty is also important. There is no magic recipe, only too short days.

Interview with Arturo.

15 Feb Sandy

First, can you tell us a little about yourself and how did you get started with photography?

Photography was not initially important to me, it did not attract my attention. What did attract me from a very young age was traveling. Over time I did need to show what I saw, what I lived and what I felt, but it was really bad taking photos with my little camera. When I showed the images to family or friends, the only thing they saw was a moving photo and in which it was not known what I had wanted to take, it was very frustrating. Little by little I was striving to capture the essence of travel, so I gradually became interested in the world of photography. It was very hard for a long time, I traveled frequently, but saw no results. I returned and did not achieve my goal, my photographs were hardly improving, but fortunately, after a lot of work, I think that more or less I was improving when it came to capturing what I saw; Although I am an eternal dissatisfied and I am always unhappy with my work. From my travels I come back with the feeling that I could do better and maybe, that feeling is good to keep trying and improve as a photographer. Currently, I cannot conceive of traveling without my camera.

How would you describe your photographic approach?

Mainly my photography is documentary and anthropological. In my trips I look for people within their cultural and social environment to which they belong and it is there where I really feel comfortable. I focus a lot on fading cultures and ancient traditions.

But obviously, when you travel you have the opportunity to see many things and live countless situations that are worth photographing, and I do. I am not as “purist” as other photographers, who are very clear about their specialty and find it difficult to get out of it.
Where do you get your inspiration for photography?
Many years ago, I paid a lot of attention to the works of the great masters, Steve Mc Curry and Sebastiao Salgado in particular, I was amazed at his photographs of places I had traveled to and seemed to me other places, I was amazed to see what they They were able to see and how they reflected it in their images. They inspired me a lot, but now, I just let go and I’m not aware if something or someone inspires me, I just enjoy it like the first day.

How has photography allowed you to connect with local cultures?

I think it has been the other way around, that visiting other cultures or ethnic groups was what made me feel little by little the need to photograph them and rescue those unique moments, that I had kept in me, but that little by little they fade over time .
It is true that since photography is digital, it is much easier to interact with the people you are going to photograph, showing them the result on the screen, it takes away tension at the moment and is cause for laughter. With analog photography, you shot, thanked and left, it was much colder.

What is your equipment for travel photography?

I currently work with Nikon D800 and for various purposes.
Nikon 24-70mm
Nikon 70-200mm

Nikon 16-35mm

What configuration do you choose?

I only give priority to the diaphragm and by default I have underexposed 1/3 of the diaphragm to give it a little more contrast.

Which travel and portrait photographers have influenced you?

I think I anticipated this question earlier and answered it.
There are many photographers that I like, but in particular and the ones that influenced me the most were Steve Mc Curry and Sebastiao Salgado. The first one has masterpieces, in which you spend a good time looking at the scene and nothing is missing, everything is perfect and Salgado, what to say about this photographer, that magical black and white. But as I have already mentioned, there are true masters of travel photography.

What is the importance of portrait photos?

For me, everything is the modality in which I am most comfortable. As I mentioned before, on trips I take advantage of any scene I like, landscape, Street photography, details, I do not care, but it is with the portrait that I get the best results.

Have you ever missed what could have been a memorable shot?

Yes, I have failed not once, but a few times. On some occasions for not having the camera ready and being a quick scene and the image has moved, or is out of focus. I have had many situations in which I have not been able to achieve that unique image and that creates frustration that lasts for several days.

Among your works, which is your favorite? Can you please share this photo?

It is very difficult to stay with a single image, but I will choose one of the ones that I like the most, which does not always correspond to the best, it may be due to the circumstances in which it was taken, there may be some more sentimental than technical reason in that image, but I will try to make the photo you choose take a bit of everything.
This image belongs to a series, I do not know if it is one of my favorites, but it is true that I really enjoyed doing it. It is from some races that are held in Sumatra, Indonesia. I remember being in front of the oxen and when they got very close I had to run away and get out of their way. Everything had to be very fast and have the camera settings ready. It was really an exciting and good day, the result is spectacular.

What is your dream mission?

Good question. Well, I have had in mind for many years cycling the mythical Lhasa (Tibet) – Kathmandu (Nepa) route and being able to do a photographic report. But time passes and the years come upon me and every time I see it more difficult, although I always have it in mind. I also want to do a good report on the Rio Ganga, but there are many goals that I always have in mind.

Do you have any projects planned for the year?

It is a very difficult year to make plans of any kind due to the virus crown, I think this year you will be able to travel little. I had planned to organize some photographic trips around Africa, but you have to wait to see how the pandemic evolves.

Arturo López Illana