INTERVIEW: Swarat Ghosh

To celebrate our launch Fòcas Scotland features powerful work by five photographers exploring community, identity, and culture in Scotland and India today.

Since taking up photography in 2010, award-winning street photographer Swarat Ghosh has published in renowned outlets such as National Geographic

F: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into photography? 

S: My earliest memory of photography was looking at pictures by ‘That’s Life’ photographers such as Kaushal Parekh, Prashant Godbole and many more street photographers from India. I am proud that today I am part of this wonderful street photography collective which inspires many more aspiring street photographers (including myself) to take this medium seriously and emotionally connect with it.  

For me coming into photography is pretty accidental when my wife gifted me a digital camera in the year 2012. Initially, I joined a couple of Flickr Groups called “Hyderabad Weekend Shoots” & “The Camera Club of Hyderabad”. Over there the focus was more towards Street Photography. We used to travel to different parts of Hyderabad, and it was a great experience for me.


© Swarat Ghosh

F: Can you tell us how you find – or look for – your subjects and your stories?

S: For me in the street I normally try to catch the emotions more than anything. For me “Content” is the King. As long as I am getting strong subjects with varied emotions which people can easily relate to, I think as a photographer I have done justice to myself. I just enjoy the whole experience of making pictures till date. For me, photography is all about the timing and the capacity to observe. I pat myself on the back for the sheer dedication with which I push myself when making images on the streets. Many times I feel to skip on weekends (due to my software job) but somehow drag myself just for the sheer joy of clicking that magic picture at a time.

F:The compositions in your images are so striking and iconic. What’s your process when you go out and photograph?

S: There is no hard and fast rule according to me . Patience is the key imho. I can only tell you one thing now after pursuing photography passionately over the last four years, now – I just slow down. I’m not in a hurry to make images. I give myself time to simply enjoy the whole experience of travelling, and exploring every nook and corner of the city. Lately, I am enjoying the whole experience on the street with out worrying about whether I will get pictures or not on that particular day. And I will also consider myself to be lucky to get few great subjects at the right time of my exploration.

© Swarat Ghosh

F: What’s it like, for you, to be a photographer in India right now?

S: Mixed feeling frankly. It’s a great period for aspiring photographers in India because there are multiple platforms to showcase talents and exhibit their work (through festivals, books, exhibitions) but what is worse in today’s scenario that now there is also a great amount of competition you need to be top of your game to be successful. Only talent won’t work but dedication and sheer perseverance will take you a long way in this challenging time.

F: There’s been an incredible flux of exciting photography festivals emerging in India recently – how has that changed things for photographers?

S: Festivals are providing a fantastic platform for young photographers to showcase their work to the world. Last year, I myself was part of an organizing committee of Indian Photography Festival Spearheaded by Aquin Mathews and Chandrasekhar Singh. For the very first time, Hyderabad witnessed a photography festival with several exciting photographers, workshops, exhibitions from India and abroad. In 2015, I was part of Swapan Parekh’s workshop in Chobimela, Dhaka. It was an eye opening experience for me to be part of such a huge scale festival. Now in India we now have a great line up for festivals such a Delhi Photo Festival, Goa Photo Festival, Pondy Photo Festival, Shillongphotofestival, Gujarat Festival and recently more the Chennai photo biennale. It means more opportunities for young photographers to showcase their talent.

F: Do you think Instagram, or social media generally, have changed Street Photography?

 S: I don’t think Instagram or social media have changed street photography but now you have more opportunities and different platforms to showcase you work . For me Social media or Instagram helps in connecting like minded photographers more than before.

S: Which photographers and artists inspire you?

M: It’s a huge list. Magnum is like a photography Bible to me. Few names I always admire are following

Raghu Rai, Raghubir Singh, Alex Webb, Trent Parke, Sohrab Hura, Swapan Parekh, Prashant Panjiar, Dinesh Khanna, Amit Mehra, Chirodeep chaudhuri, Kaushal Parikh and Barbara Davidson (Though she is not a street photographer, but some how I can relate to her work on personal level. Last year I met with her in IPF and since then I am following her work).

Along with these names my own fellow ‘That’s Life’ members and other collective like ‘in-public’, who are amazing and great source of Inspiration.

Swarat Ghosh is a member of That’s Life, the premier Indian street photography collective. He is a visual designer by profession. His work has been published in several national and international magazines including National Geographic Traveller and InternationalStreet Photographer. His photography is all about the timing and the capacity to observe. He loves shooting photographs that are complex in composition and layered with multiple descriptive and conceptual elements, depicting stories from everyday life.