In conversation with Ritobrato Kundu, the photographer

Photography is the new trend of the young generation, but it needs passion to become a successful photographer. Very few people have the courage to follow their passion. Ritobrato Kundu is one of the extremely talented photographers who creates magic with his talent and creativity. So, here is what he tells us about his photography.

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1. What does photography mean to you?

Ritobrato: Standing at this juncture and having clicked over thousands of photographs, I can solemnly proclaim that photography to me is equivalent to what breathing is (I still require oxygen though). It’s probably what keeps me going on every single day, be it after a long day at the office or to kick-start a real long afternoon. To me, it is the last thing that I have in my mind at night and the first thing which pops up in the morning as well, (I dream about women, money and cars as well but that’s a different story altogether). Photography is that whip of air after a tiring monotonous and exhausting day. Photography to me is like water to the thirsty traveller on a long scorching desert. The list of comparison never ends and this pace is not enough to describe what it means to me. It is that attribute or USP that defines me and makes me the person I am today and I clearly state that it shall continue to do so always.

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2. When did you start clicking photographs and when did you decide to start it in a bigger scale/professionally?

Ritobrato: I cannot remember the exact day when I started clicking keeping photography in mind, but in every trip or get together, it was me who always took up the camera and started clicking scenery, moments and people (mind you this happened when the concept of digital cameras became pocket friendly and my dad decided to invest in one). But then if actual photography is taken into consideration, then the 1st of January, 2013 was when my father took ear to me pleads and handed me a DSLR, a canon 1000D. My joy knew no bounds as I pressed shutter to whatever that appealed me, and as an early amateur, went out to every place that the city had to offer. I never intended to take it to a bigger scale, as I thought that I did not have the material and lacked belief and faith on myself to make the cut to the bigger stage. Learning the various aspects and mixing it with my own ideas, confidence started to grow in. I particularly owe credit to a few friends and seniors who stood by me and instilled the much-needed courage and encouragement. I stepped up my gears, and that is when my photographs started to plead my eyes a little, and I decided to take the plunge, 2014 was a nice year for me and the plunge did not let me down till date as I have been treated well.

3. What kind of pictures do you click?

Ritobrato: As a photographer, I believe that one should not limit one’s eyes to a particular genre and should click whatever that pleases the eye. But then again, you have specialists who have excelled and gained success on a particular line of thought and action. Same goes for me as well, I take out my camera and point it on anything that fascinates my eyes, but in the last few months or so, I have concentrated myself to a definite line. I like to associate myself to clicking people, notably portraits in their best of attires, bringing out the emotions within them on a few favourite hand-picked locations. A few people name it as fashion photography, but then to associate myself with a huge, tried and tested genre as fashion photography is quite challenging and I believe I don’t have the qualifications or experience to tag myself to it. On a shorter note, I click people, I click them in their best with an attempt to make them even better, I click their emotions, what they express out whenever they see a camera towards them along with a touch of my own signatures.

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4. Which one was your first picture?

Ritobrato: The first photograph happened in a rather weird way. I came back home real late after buying my new camera and was totally irritated seeing that there was a power cut all around our neighborhood. Even our inverter had given in and there was complete darkness with a lone candle shining on the table and my mother clapping around randomly attempting to kill a mosquito. I missed capturing the priceless emotions of my family immediately as they would have upon seeing the new camera but I noticed there were guests at our place, and they had just left because their tea cups were still in the table. The candle produced a certain unnatural aura and shape of light and in a flash, a certain pattern grabbed my attention, like a man possessed my hand, ripped open the packing of the camera box, took it out and clipped the shutter button crazily. And till date, I have never reproduced a shot which can pass over this first shot of mine.

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5. Whose work has influenced you most?

Ritobrato: My father once told me, that there are no definite sources for knowledge. It can emanate even from the smallest of origins, and sometimes the average piece of junk can turn out to be the most extraordinary. We all at some point of time copied one photographer or the other and there are certain people who kind of fascinate us. I have had my share of influences over the couple of years as well since I have donned the camera. My list of influences ranges from the senior who showed me how to hold a camera for the first time to the fellow photographers I have worked with. All of them gave me something to learn and I tried to gain from whatever they posted or showed me.With the advent of Facebook and a few other social media, it is not tough to see a lot of photos. I won’t name a few fancy names via google, as I don’t look underneath for the names as I go through photographs, because that would in a way make me partial to that person and limit myself. I believe in sharing knowledge through any medium with any person available out there, because at the end of the day, the unique creativity of every person is what I aim to catch for.For me influence should never have a name, certainly in this field,for you never know what might please your eye out of nowhere.

6. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

Ritobrato: Nothing precisely, I would say because if I had known that one thing, it would not have given me the urge or zeal to know it again from scratch and work on it. Complacency is one negative aspect which I try to fight always. At times not having knowledge over anything helps, because then you learn it from the basics and learn it in context, get instant practical access, and also modify it for your own creativity. But deep inside, before I started to take photographs, I wish I in some way or the other knew that it would shape up this big and would be such an integral part of my life. Then in that case I would have pursued myself into this field, taken proper courses and education, and pursued as a career and living unlike now as it prospers as hobby and freelancing.

7. Among your works, which one is your favourite? Why?

Ritobrato: Light a candle and then tell me which side of the candle glows the most. And then only I would tell you what my favorite works are. (Laughs)

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Well, a few of my shoots turned out pretty well because of the things being in my favor, from nature to the people to the location to weather and the entire crew. A particular studio work and two or three outdoor works remain close to me, because they pushed me to the limit of creativity and improvisations and at the same time, the entire crew tried to overdo each one of us for bringing out the best. The entire crew sat in a mini competition as who would perform the best and on such conditions the outcome is definitely the best. I have a particular favorite though, but it’s completely different from the genre I work in these days. and that is the photo which bagged me a certificate from Times Photo Journal, and so it continues to have a special mention and special name all around.

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8. How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

Ritobrato: I follow a certain motive which goes as, “Take a photograph in such a way, thinking that it to be your last”. In this way, I strive myself to make sure every photograph turns out to be what I am aiming for, and I keep on repeating it unless the photo matches what I had visualized. Simultaneously, I try to keep myself updated with the latest works and trends all around the globe. Looking at hundreds of photographs in my specific line of thought has become a part of my daily activity. As long as google and YouTube are under net neutrality, the thirst for knowledge can never be quenched.So with these two around, my mantra of education stands in three points. Firstly, I try to learn any new technique and process to steadily improve my skills and creativity. Secondly look at photographs of what people click and try to relate them. And finally, incorporate your photographs and old techniques with the new ones to create something personal and unique.

9. How important is it for a photographer to “connect” with his subjects to bring out their true self?

Ritobrato: How would a food taste, just boiled or baked, without any spices or salt and sugar? Tasteless right? The same applies to the concept of connecting with your subjects. The connection brings life to the photographs, especially in case of portraits.If you are not aware of what the other person thinks of you and if you cannot express your desires and requirements and your outcome from that person, the resulting photograph would be equal to clicking something lifeless. With every photograph one should aim to attach a part of oneself into it, latch onto it and then only it would be worthy enough to be called a photograph.

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10. Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?

Ritobrato: Improvisation is the word always and if it clubs with another word called backup, then 90 percent of the unpredictable aspects can be avoided. Generally I love playing with light and shades and that to the natural way, so my locations and weather conditions are ideally the afternoon sun and in a place where there is enough light and shade all around. Old parks, cemetery, old buildings make it up primarily, and the sun after 2 pm produces brilliant color hue and effect for my mood and photographic ideas (The early morning sun is beautiful as well, but my mornings generally start from post 9pm).

Now if natural calamities of weather or man-made ones (read political) come in my way, I keep an indoor space available, be it a studio or an empty place of ours for shooting peacefully so that it doesn’t alter or hamper the schedule. I am such a person that I commit myself totally to a shoot on that particular day and it irks me to the core if I don’t get it done on that day itself. It becomes an obsession to finish it off that day itself. Other unpredictable issues range from a sudden emergency work or health issues or weird people barging in during the shoot. It is then, when I look at the calendar for alternative options. And for people issues, I always ask 2 to 3 persons simultaneously, and keep a few as backup, so that if one cancels suddenly, I would have someone else to click as well.

11. What makes a good picture stand out from the average?

Ritobrato: Like my father said, sometimes the average piece of junk can be as meaningful. There are no standout photographs, because I believe people put in their soul while clicking them and you cannot exactly differentiate a certain thought to be average or good. But since all my answers are becoming diplomatic, I would say it takes little things to make a photograph stand out from the rest. A certain geometric pattern needs to be followed, with uniform or calculated spacing. The horizon line should be perfectly straight. The composition should be kept in mind, and placing the thing exactly where it should be and not tampering it. And finally the most important part, the post processing must never be overdone, because the post processing is as equally important as clicking the photograph on the first place, but then again it unique to personal to one self as to which photograph falls under the good category and which does not.

12. How does black and white vs. colour play into your work?

Ritobrato: One of the frequent quotations you would see in many a people putting underneath their Facebook profile pictures in black and white, “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” I slightly differ from this phrase. Yes, without any doubt black and white adds that charm and an extra classy look to a photograph that colors can never reproduce and the earliest and the greatest of photographs still exist in monochrome colors. I happen to have a colorful approach to my dreams. I believe in putting on colors to the dreams people see through me, so in my work colors play a much more predominant part. Of my photographs and putting it out on percentage more than 80% of the photographs are vividly colorful, and well if u have amazing resolutions in phone and monitors, you just cannot resist playing with them in high-definition.

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13. What are your future plans?

Ritobrato: Very quickly I realized that photography is an expensive dream and hobby to pursue. Yes, great people would say that gears don’t matter, the person behind it does, but then again, one who has got valid and vivid experience and with technology so rapidly advancing, and competition getting fierce all around, the need for upgrading yourself is very necessary, and the up-gradation comes quite hefty. Right now, post engineering I have landed myself a job and happen to work there, and a major part of the savings goes to a piggy bank called photography. It’s like a business, once you have taken it up professionally, and without it I believe you won’t be able to prosper or advance. Money talks as always. Photography is such a field, where being second means you are first in the long list of losers. You always have to be the best and keep on doing that if you want to move ahead. So my plans remain crystal clear. Earn money, save-up, click small assignments on weekends, save-up again, and invest efficiently and after a good few years with enough of experience, start off your own services along with the aim of imparting knowledge to others. The idea of self learnt sells good in autobiographies and interviews and not on real lives. One trusts the certificates, most of the times rather than the actual work.

14. What advice would you like to give to the future photographers?

Ritobrato: I have a fellow junior photographer working with me. I generally work alone, but I found this guy having the same passion and zeal as mine. I would like to pass on the message that make sure every photograph you click treat it as the last one you are clicking, and that would bring out that extra bit of zeal in you. The competition is very tough out there and talent is in abundance. Use the right resources at the right places and make efficient use of what you have in hand. I too am majorly a Facebook photographer with a few uploads here and there, but then make sure once you have reached your best, then only startup. Facebook at some point of time is a great market to advertise and nothing lives without marketing. Above all, be humble, learn and share, because only through sharing, you would gain much more when others would share back to you. Keep clicking ! 🙂

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You can check out his photographs on his Facebook Page, Rito-Graphy.

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