Imagine a time when Photography meant using a 36 shot film roll, carrying around heavy manual cameras and lenses, constantly worried about not wasting precious film rolls, and unaware of how the picture would turn out until the film was developed! Add to this the unavailability of a knowledge goldmine like the Internet and social media to learn the art's basics and nuances. In this challenging milieu, along the banks of river Damodar in Durgapur, armed with an old manual Zenith camera, young me found my passion for Photography. I was mesmerised and proud of myself when I held the magic created by the combination of colours on a glossy paper of a setting sun beyond the horizon. I found my calling in that magical art of Photography.
Soon my passion became my profession. I joined the Indian Air Force as a professional technical photographer. There I met my first mentors, who expanded my perspective on Photography and introduced me to newer dimensions of the technicality of the art. I tried my hand for the first time on a high end camera, a Yashica TLR. And subsequently I graduated into the art of black and white negative and print processing, colour development and printing and the most importantly transparency processing. It’s the time when I got hold of my first personal camera, the Nikon FM2. Now I wanted to explore more unknown vistas of the field and express my creative genius beyond the constraints of the Air Force profession. I retired from the Air Force and started my independent photography journey to its aesthetic world.
When you go on a journey of your true passion, some encounters profoundly impact your life. I had a life-changing encounter when I attended a photography workshop in Rajasthan. The diverse set of photographers, who participated in this workshop, expanded my skills and imparted valuable lessons to me. One of the most important lessons I learnt from these photographers was the impact of post-processing on the quality of the pictures. I learnt how post-processing could elevate the image captured by the camera to a new level, one that is as good as what the eye had seen. I dove deeper into this vast ocean of Photography and emerged as a mentor capable of guiding and making great photographers after spending 25 years in the field. After spending some years as a mentor in some photographic companies and clubs, finally I started my own photo tour and workshop company “ARUN SAHA PHOTOGRAPHY(ASP)” to spread my knowledge in the field in a wider way.
Though my body of work describes me more prominently as a travel and people photographer, but I firmly believe that genre in photography is just another word from the dictionary. If one knows his gears best, has the understanding of light, has a prominent sense of composition and possesses a distinct visualisation, he can excel in any genre of this art field. And this made me travel between almost all the genres from landscape to birding to wildlife to portrait to street to people to travel with equal aplomb. This helped me immensely in quenching the photographic thirst of my students and participants of every kind. In my tours and workshops, I emphasise more on the learning and understanding of the photographic art rather than just taking fabulous shots.
The tours are never completed with just taking shots. The biggest take away for the participants I consider from my tours and workshops are the learning of lights, the compositions, the finding of the subjects and finally how to process images to get the final output through my experiences over the years. Under the banner of ASP, I’ve mentored 883 Indian and 47 foreign photographers successfully through 108 different photo tours and workshops so far. Freelance contribution for media houses like India Today, professional photo shoots for corporate portraits and appearing as guest lecturer of photography for universities like Sandeep University (Nashik)& Techno University (Kolkata)are the other professional aspects of my photographic career.
After becoming an accomplished photographer and a mentor, I wanted to scale new heights by publishing a book, a dream for every photographer. When the thought of making a book arose, I could not think of a better subject than the historic town of Varanasi. The city held a special place in my heart, triggered by the scenes I witnessed as a twelve-year-old. I, along with my friend and ace photographer Rishi Agrawal, captured the life and history of this 5000-year-old town on our versatile camera. Me and Rishi painted this book with our lively photographs that told the story of this town, its unique vistas along the river Ganga, its people, and their livelihood. The book, “VARANASI, A PASSAGE TO IMMORTALITY” has earned laurels for us from different walks of society.
My journey in Photography would not be possible without the staunch support of my spouse, Prajna, and my children. My constant travel life keeps me away from my family for many weeks. Even though the kids miss me at home, they fully understand their father's love for art. My passion has rubbed off on my son, Etash too. He has developed his unique style and perspective of Photography. He challenges and critiques my photographs, showing me newer dimensions in Photography. I could not be any prouder of my son.
I believe that being a good human and keeping equal respect for fellow art lovers comes before being more proficient in this field. I consider making a difference in someone's life with all my knowledge and expertise the most honourable thing: a great human being and a remarkable photographer.
- Arun Saha
Follow Arun's work on Instagram: https://instagram.com/arunsahaphotography?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
Arun's Website: www.arunsaha.com
If you too want to share your journey into Photography, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Harshita Sharma & Vinay Matre
Interview by : Harshita Sharma