I was born in a small town near Agartala. I belong to a lower-middle-class family & in my childhood, I have seen poverty very closely. However, I have seen my father & uncles working hard to cope with the situation, and I have also seen how our conditions improved because of their efforts.
As a child, I was always among the top-ranking students in my class, and the reason was not just me being good into studies but also because my father was strict. I also liked to play. So every afternoon, I used to go outside to play. That was an integral part of my routine. Me and my friends used to roam for 10-15 kms sometimes by walking, which was fun for me. From wandering in the village to traveling for business & then for photography, I have travelled a lot, and that is why my Instagram handle is “my.wander.tales”.
I was in the eighth standard when I started using the camera. It wasn’t my first choice for a hobby or something I had a passion for; instead, I loved painting. I loved painting so much that I desire to be a painter, and I feel unfortunate not to have the skill or talent to paint. But that desire of mine was fulfilled by photography. My father’s film camera became my first camera, and even though he had the camera, he wasn’t very inclined towards art. I think it was mainly because of the financial conditions of our family during the time when he was young.
I often went outside with my friends and carried my father’s camera with me. I realized very soon that I wasn’t very keen on capturing the photos of my friends but instead the pictures of beautiful scenery, landscapes, and our surroundings.
After my father passed away in 2010, I joined our family business and focused on work and family. It was then that I did photography to keep me happy & relieve my stress. To help me pursue my interest in photography, my wife helped me a lot in sharing the responsibility of business and family.
My wife and I went to the same school. We were just friends back then. As we went to college, we started dating, and after four years of dating, her father got sick and wanted her to get married. My family was also asking me about the marriage. So that time we told our family & luckily convincing them wasn’t hard, and since then we have been happily married and have a daughter who is 12 years old now. My daughter also shares a love for painting, the same as me; unlike me, she makes excellent ones. She sees my photographs and paints the same on canvas.
I used to click pictures mainly in Auto mode. But in 2016, I started learning about photography in depth. From then on, I started attending workshops to learn photography and explore it whenever I had time.
In 2018, I went on my first & most memorable photography trip. I went to Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh with two of my friends. I had no idea about the place, but when we reached there, I was so mesmerized by the scenery that it felt like heaven. For the first time, I actually realised the kind of pictures I could take! It turned out so beautifully that we canceled our return tickets, extended the trip, stayed there without network, and then returned after a few days when we felt content.
After that trip, I visited many places and had many great experiences. Recently I have been to Kashmir exclusively for landscape photography. On this trip, I have captured almost a thousand pictures, of which only around two hundred would be pure landscape, and the rest are a mix of landscapes & streets. I always try to blend human life with landscapes because that is my kind of photography. I love that sketch. Whenever I go to places and click pictures of landscapes, I try to find some element of human life in them.
Like every other street photographer, when I am on the street, I am shameless. When we try to click pictures on the road, people can react in any way; some might be happy and welcoming, while some might shout and be angry. Once, I clicked pictures in Delhi, and a woman spat at me. It is part of a street Photographer’s life.
During the pandemic, I had little to do because the business was not doing great, and I couldn’t go out to click photos. So I was simply sitting at home, and then in the later half, I did some portrait shoots with some models, but again it wasn’t satisfying. It was not feeding my soul.
I have been in NFT since January 2022. Initially, it was good as everything is. However, it’s becoming difficult for photographers as the platform is getting more significant, and many new technologies have come into play, especially AI.
After getting into NFTs, I connected to many prominent photographers worldwide who have been inspiring and helping me in many ways. One of them inspired me to venture into wildlife photography and for the first time in my life, I joined him for an exclusive wildlife trip to Masai Mara, Kenya. I never knew that I would love wildlife photography that much.
Social media has helped me a lot, not in terms of the quality of a picture but in how to communicate. I think every photographer feels motivated when they get a good engagement from the audience. But at the same time, I also think that youngsters or new people coming into this field should understand that social media is just a platform that may not be here in the long run, but their art and the pictures they click will remain forever. So obsessing over likes & followers is not a good thing when pursuing art. Instead, it should satisfy your soul.”
- Ratnadwip Saha
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Written by: Vinay Matre & Harshita Sharma
Interview by : Harshita Sharma