I remember my first encounter with photography when I borrowed a Yashica camera from a friend to shoot our picnic which by mistake I lost. I was so scared of my parents that I traveled all the way to Kalimpong from Siliguri (North Bengal) without money and somehow got that camera back. With no art background in the family, all memories are from school. It was my teachers who identified that I am good at arts especially sketching, and writing hence they allowed me to represent my school at various national and international competitions. Since my father was on a stricter side, I used to inform my mother about the participation and prizes I used to win.
At the age of 16, I arrived in Delhi and after doing odd jobs for a year I got admission in Delhi University. After my post-graduation, I started working and simultaneously started traveling and photography. So far I have covered more than 100 cities in India and Nepal and mostly my work revolves around the stories of the people whom I meet while traveling and their respective socio-economic environment. For the last few years, I have been concentrating on my personal projects.
I was working with ad agencies and had an exposure to books related to photography. While working as an intern back in 2009 I was asked to do all kinds of work irrespective of the fact whether I am into a creative or servicing department. Few of my seniors used to show pictures from “ads of the world” and used to say “Bhai kuch badhiya copy likh de, absorb kar lenge”. Also, while working as a junior artist in a Bollywood movie “Bhag Milkha Bhag” I realized the importance of camera and the role of DOP. In the same year, I borrowed a point and shoot camera from a friend and took a weekend beyond the auto mode photography workshop. Post that, I broke my PF savings and bought a Nikon D3100 and started practicing on my own. Internet and Photography Magazines were my source of information back then and today.
I don’t prepare a lot while shooting locally. I utilize almost every time in practicing/reading photography I get beyond office hours and it has become a habit now. When I am working on a project or traveling, I like to make proper step by step notes in my diary about the people, place, culture, and the story I can cover and if not story, then what I can eat, explore or even how can I make new friends in the places I am exploring. For me, it’s not always about making photographs; it’s about enjoying myself too.
Every photograph has its own charm, it’s subjective. Personally, an image with strong content with good light would suffice being called a good photograph at least for me. Added lines, geometry, forms, layers definitely take the photo to the next level.
Having patience is very important, good things take time. If you are sure about photography, Get proper photography education, assist a photographer, or get a mentor ship if feasible, it will help you build your perspective. Respect and observe the place and the people you are shooting. Practice, Enjoy, and Practice.
Jai Thakur is an independent travel & documentary photographer based in New Delhi, India. The majority of his works revolve around the socio-economic environment of the society. Other than the number of group exhibitions, he is a recipient of various national and international awards including Sahapedia Frames Grant, Water Hero Award by Govt. of India and National Geographic's MyIncredibleStory. His work has been published in multiple platforms like Dodho Magazine, National Geographic, HIPA.ae, Indian Photo Arts Magazine, 121Clicks, Photographers Forum's Book, Edge of Humanity, etc. He appeared in the MX Player Web series “Express Yourself ” on River Conservation. As a day job, he works as a Business Research Analyst.
- Jai Thakur
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Interview: Shashank Joshi
Written by: Harshita Sharma