interview with photographer shantanu das
"As a child, I was very fond of a prehistoric 120-format Agfa click 3 camera owned by my uncle. Every time we went out on a vacation, my uncle used to carry the 'magic lantern' with him. I was never allowed to touch the camera and that only increased my curiosity about the 'machine'."
"I believed that there was someone living inside the camera who created the plants, hills, sunsets and human beings in the photographs. Curiously enough, the humans produced by the ‘machine’ always smiled. Years later, as I grew up, I came to know about the intricacies of the 'machine' but the fantasy and magic that revolves around photography still remains in my heart and will remain until the last day of my life.”
Shantanu, a winner in the Friends of the Earth (FoEI) 2007 photo competition, is particularly interested in capturing human emotions. "Anything that revolves around 'us' gets me clicking. I like to capture different human emotions, traditions, culture and daily life. The 'unity in diversity' in our race is something that I am aiming to portray through my photography."
It was some of his images taken in India, which led to him winning four prizes in the 2007 FoEI photo competition. Of his win, Shantanu says, "It felt great. It was almost like a reward for what I was doing for so long. Recognitions like these help you move forward in life and inspire you to take even better pictures. They're a great reward and inspire you to do even better work in the days to come. It's like a pat on your back which says, 'keep up the good work'.”
Good Work is certainly what this photographer aims to do. He sees photography as a powerful tool that has the potential to bring about great change.
"Images are so powerful that they might change the way you look at this world. If I present you with a picture of how life in the deep seas is suffering because of an oil leakage — it will hit, influence you and might change the way you look at this world."
"The message that I want to send to everybody - while I go on clicking people and portraying their culture is — everybody is so beautiful; everybody has so many reasons to celebrate! So why don't we be part of each other's celebrations rather than be concerned with only ours?"
"I guess with the world torn apart with so many problems and sorrows, we have forgotten how to smile. If my photos draw a smile on your frowning face, why not?"
Shantanu Das is currently working for the Times of India in Mumbai and developing his website.