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  • Writer's pictureAbhishek Deb

Street Photography: An interesting case of Love & Insanity


photo by Victor Shohet
A Global Love Affair – The City of Joy & The Art of Street Photography

An individual who is willing to shoot a city for 24 hours straight must have had an immense amount of love for both the city and street photography. It takes a deep passion and appreciation for the city’s architecture, people, and culture to capture its essence through the lens of a camera. This kind of dedication requires a willingness to explore every nook and cranny of the city, from its bustling streets to its hidden alleys, in order to capture a unique perspective. It also takes a love of the art of photography itself, and a desire to experiment with lighting, composition, and angles to create a truly captivating image. To shoot a city for 24 hours straight is an act of pure love and devotion. You are about to hear an ordeal as lovely and religious as such, now.


 

Why does anyone love street photography at all?

Street photography has survived over the years as a form of photography that captures candid moments of everyday life in public places. It has become increasingly popular over the years, with many photographers drawn to its ability to document the human experience and the scenes of the city. Every street photograph captures a true moment.

photo: Abhishek Deb

One reason people love street photography is that it allows them to capture moments that are often fleeting and spontaneous. Unlike traditional portrait photography or studio work, street photography often involves capturing people and events as they happen, without any staging or preparation. This can result in images that feel raw and authentic, capturing the essence of a place or moment.

photo: Kevin Unger

Another reason why people love street photography is that it allows for a unique perspective on the world. By capturing everyday life in public places, street photographers can shed light on the small moments and details that might otherwise go unnoticed. This can help create a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world around us.

photo: Partha Mukhopadhyay

This photography genre is both about the photographer and the subject. Additionally, street photography can be seen as a form of social commentary. By capturing the people and events of a city, street photographers can document the social and cultural landscape of a place.

photo: Niklas Lindskog

This can help raise awareness and spark conversations about important issues, from poverty and inequality to urban development and gentrification and often, progress.

The Kolkata Connect…


photo: Abhishek Deb

Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta, is a city in eastern India that has long been a favourite of photographers. There are several reasons why Kolkata attracts photographers, including its rich history, vibrant culture, people, and unique architecture.


One of the main reasons photographers are drawn to Kolkata is its rich history. The city was once the capital of British India, and it played a significant role in the country’s struggle for independence. This history is reflected in the city’s architecture, which features a mix of British colonial and traditional Indian styles. Photographers are often drawn to the city’s old buildings, narrow alleys, and bustling markets, which offer a glimpse into its past.


But what is a city without its people? The soul of the city lies in its life forms. Kolkata has a unique taste and touches to it. Kolkata is known for its warm and welcoming people. The city’s residents are known for their hospitality, and they are often willing to pose for photographs or share stories about their lives. This openness and friendliness make Kolkata a great place for photographers to explore and document the human experience.


photo: Tathagata Ghosh

This city is home to several iconic buildings, including the Victoria Memorial, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Howrah Bridge. These structures are often photographed for their beauty and historical significance.


Between the scheduled 24 hours of 15 Mar 23, the street photographers starting from 00:00 hrs of 15th, covered and documented Howrah Bridge, Howrah Railway Station, Red Road, and Park Street Nightclubs vicinities. They continued to explore across Mallick Ghat, Maidan, Strand Road, Bus Stations, Burrabazar, Esplanade, Park Street, Russell Street, Rabindra Sadan, Sudder Street, Ferry Ride & North Kolkata, Metro Rides, Cafe(s) in Central Kolkata, College Street, Kumartuli, Suburban Trains, Brabourne Road, Princep Ghat, Trams, Koley Market,, New Market, Bow Barracks and more, as per reports.


photo: Limor Zadok

Whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur looking to capture some great shots, Kolkata is a city that offers endless opportunities for exploration and creativity. Not to forget, for a long time now, Kolkata has been known to be a metro city where all classes of people have survived and will survive.


One of the DOTSO shifts spotted in a Kolkata road!

40 street photographers from 7 different nations converged at Kolkata and within a single 24-hour calendar day, from midnight to midnight, they roamed around the streets capturing moments of life as it unfolded, as it happened, as it really is. The contingent of street photographers was divided into smaller sub-groups and was sent to different regions of the city allocated for each group across different time slots. Many of these photographers stretched as long as 18 hours beyond their minimum time slots. They braved the scorching March sun, the rising humidity, the pollution, the traffic congestion all for the love of street photography, people, and the city of joy Kolkata.

photo: Dov Oron


Dov Oron arriving from Israel says “Come to Kolkata, it’s a street photographer’s paradise. Everyone has a picture of Paradise in his imagination. Every street photographer has his own concept of what street photography means. These are based on what we’ve learned, heard, seen, done,, and imagined, and based on these I thought I had a rough idea of what Kolkata is. Nothing can prepare you for the experience of Kolkata. The WOW factor is unbelievable and indescribable! the magnitude of colour, noise,, and everything is huge. It was a profound experience on many levels: All five senses, all the emotions from joy to sadness, deep thoughts, and even philosophy, and touching and even influencing my most inner core. My deepest thanks to the people of Kolkata for helping me discover this wonderful place and even more about myself.”
photo: Anat Shushan

Photographers like Anat Shushan, who keep coming back to the city of Kolkata says “I just came back home. It is like my homecoming. I can’t wait to go out on the streets and start clicking.” Was she talking about Kolkata? Or expressing about her street photography journey at Kolkata? We never explored further. None of us did for any of ourselves I surmise. We all just arrived and made ourselves available for an incredible journey through a dimension called “Time” which now had a platform called #DOTSO Kolkata.


photo: Amit Alony

Kolkata witnessed a never-before street photography extraordinaire on 15th March 2023. Street photographers from Israel, Belgium, United Kingdom, Sweden, France, and India decided and volunteered to participate in this unique project, to capture the soul and essence of Kolkata – The City of Joy!

photo: Limor Zadok


The diverse yet unique set of moments these #DOTSO photographers captured in those 24 hours are enchanting and mind-boggling, to say the least. But no, the usage of adjectives shall be left for you to decide..


 

Street photographers are mad and weird people who go around public spaces with a camera anyways, what is different about DOTSO as a concept at all?


Ohh yes, I hear this a lot from many about the fraternity and the whole discipline altogether. But then, the second part of this question about #DOTSO was becoming common even before the Kolkata edition started. So I asked Kevin, the father of this concept, the same question! It took me at least 3 sittings with Kevin to actually identify the trigger that generated DOTSO.


Kevin Unger expresses that he felt burnt out from more than 15 years of his photojournalism career. He felt it tiring being caught in the crossfire of war reporting and tired of a never changing narrative. He decided to put his cameras away. It’s been years since one of his photojournalist friends pushed him towards picking up the camera again to shoot street shots. After enough dilemma as Kevin picked up the camera again approximately 4 years back, he says he never stopped again. He found his old passion for photography while doing street photography and he understood the therapeutic value it brought to his life. Now he was not setting his foot out on the streets with a preset story in mind and is free and at liberty to click anything. He believed it to have found a way back to the camera.


He mentions that as a kid he was also vulnerable to substance abuse and he strongly believes that street photography as an art, discipline, and genre can help socially challenged kids to use this as a tool to get back to a normal life. DOTSO comes with a purpose to spread the art of street photography to everyone not only as an expression but also as a way to revival and rejuvenation. Starting with Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and now Kolkata, DOTSO focuses on taking this awareness to every corner of the planet, one city at a time.


 

Many wondered: Why DOTSO? Why Kolkata?


Kevin Unger said “Street photography has become the most popular genre of photography, and it’s no wonder that it would multiply due to the invention of the smartphone. There are so many street photographers and each has its unique style. It’s easy enough to go into a city center for a few hours and take some real breathtaking photos. But I always felt, that to get a good sense and cross-section of a city, to really bring it to life it would take much more than one photographer can do. DOTSO is about bringing street photographers together, to share their perspectives and through photos show the heart and soul of a city captured within a twenty four hour period – one full calendar day!”

“As a curator of a street photography forum, I see numerous images of Kolkata appearing on my screen on a daily basis. Kolkata is full of life, colour, culture, emotion, and most importantly Joy – The City of Joy! For every street photographer, Kolkata is like the mythological siren, constantly alluring photographers to her. There’s no end to the photo one can take there.”

“Kolkata… Rustically dilapidated, where walking on the street is safer than walking on the pavement. Red lights are merely a suggestion. Crossing the street seems to be a life threatening national sport. Seat belts – what seat belts? For heaven sakes avoid the blue buses because they won’t avoid you. Always look both ways before crossing the train tracks. Mind the cows, dogs and cats. Feel free to bathe in the street – everyone does and you won’t be noticed. I will never complain about traffic again. The car horn is a national musical instrument which everyone seems to have perfected because they’re playing it all day long. Every street is a different market selling all kinds of goods and wares. Be prepared for selfies several times daily – not taken by you, but taken by others who want a selfie with you. But, if this is all that you see in Kolkata then you truly haven’t experienced the city. People always say look beyond the negative – I don’t consider this a negative. Rather in this case I would say look into all of these things and you will see friendly, hospitable people who are content, with a sparkle in their eyes and smiles on their faces. Walk down any street, say good morning to someone and they smile back at you and wish you a good morning too. It’s no wonder that Kolkata is called “The City of Joy!” All of this makes Kolkata a street photographers’ paradise where photos are happening every second. I stayed for 9 days, but it could have been 90 days and it still wouldn’t have been enough. It was a life-changing experience that I shall never be able to forget and will always cherish. Until next time…”
photo: Partha Mukhopadhyay

As I keep penning down about the experience, I realise that the time is mature to introduce all the incredible and photo-mad souls who made this concept come to life, who immediately jumped on to the idea from the moment #DOTSO Kolkata was introduced first to them. What Kevin sowed as pollen of a love affair, we all picked it up from the streets of Kolkata.

Kevin Unger, Anat Shushan, Lil Steinberg, Limor Zadok, Gershon Gilat, Amit Alony & Dov Oron joined from Israel. Myriam Adli & Todd Visser joined from France. Niklas Lindskog joined from Sweden. Patricia Kerkhofs arrived from Belgium. Victor Shohet & Keef Charles joined from the United Kingdom. I also drove down from the far west of India to the east to join fellow Indian photographers in Goutam Maiti, Santanu Dey, Joydeep Mukherjee, Partho Mukhopadhyay, Santanu Roy, Nivedita Dutta, Pinky Sanyal, Anuradha Chatterjee, Pralay Mandal, Susmita Chatterjee, Mithun Halder, Sabyasachi Nath, Subhadip Biswas, Arin Dutta, Abir Choudhury, Abir Ganguly, Sayan Acharya, Aniket Pal, Soumyadeep Kundu, Debabrata Dey and the street photographer in me – Abhishek Deb. Moreover, a dozen more talented students from the Heritage School of Kolkata joined under the careful supervision of their photography teacher Mr. Shankar and surprised us with their raw talent in street photography in abundance. I remember how dearly we waited for Vanessa Cass, Asbjorn Lind, Don Scott, Paul Mei and a few more to arrive before they had to cancel due to unavoidable circumstances. All these photographers were handpicked by either Kevin, Anat, Sabyasachi, or myself.

Enough ! Where do I get to see all the images?


Well, you will find the handpicked selection of that humongous set of #DOTSO Kolkata on the slideshow here. The images are placed based on their chronological timestamp across different parts of the city within that one single day of 15th March 2023, all within those 24 hours. Stories within stories, moments within moments, one untiring tale of love, and one untiring city of joy. The day on the streets of Kolkata.



 

Acknowledgment : Dais World | PCI


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Guest
Feb 25

One of the most incredible things I have ever seen of any Indian city. Actually, not such a set of street images ever!

You guys are so talented that I feel like I have done nothing even with my phone camera. One of my favourites is the old man pointing angrily to the camera. Other one is the yoga session in a field.

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