Prashant Godbole is a well known Indian Photographer. He began his career in Ad agency and his photographs are simple, minimalistic and very artistic. Here we bring you an amazing interview along with his photographs.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get started with street photography?
I began my career at an ad agency called Lintas, now Lowe. I joined as an Art Director, where my first task was to do a campaign on Bajaj scooters. The motorcycle market was taking over the scooter market. We needed to inject a pride of ownership in scooter buyers so I along with my copy partner Rahul da Cunha and our boss Kersy Katrak came up with the idea: Hamara Bajaj.
I started thinking of pictures for the campaign and we chose to pick slice-of-life images for the film. We came up with a hundred visuals. This was my first lesson, as I started looking at images on the road very carefully. For example, a guy combing his hair in a rear-view mirror, a Parsi polishing his scooter, the aarti people perform when buying a new vehicle, and kids taking a ride with their father to school.
This became my visual style. I began to bring street photography into every ad campaign, be it Killer Jeans, Times of India, Shoppers Stop, Airtel. I worked with photographers like Swapan Parekh, Raghu Rai, Prabhudha and Tejal, and learned by observing how they work.
When I was doing the ‘Express Yourself’ film for Airtel, Swapan was not available. I took up the camera and started to take pictures. We later won several awards for that campaign.
From that day onwards, the camera has always been with me wherever I go.
In your words what makes Street Photography so special?
Street photography is like holding up a mirror to society, capturing the life of a moment on film, making room for instinct, telling a story, making you smile. It tends to be ironic and often surprise you.
And in today’s global village, photography is the only thing that crosses barriers of language and happily transports viewers to different cultures.
How will you describe the Street Photography in India? What direction do you think street photography will go in the future?
Every citizen has become a street photographer today with camera phones and cheap digital cameras.
The camera today does every technical thing which in olden days was the purview of photographers. Chances are that the average Joe standing next to you will take better photograph than a professional or pro street photographer. They are documenting life. They are standing there at the right time and at the right place to capture the right moment. While they may still be experimenting with photography as a form of expression, they sometimes stumble upon an awesome photograph. Their unique angles, beautiful compositions and fresh palette of colours are there for all to see, and to learn from.
But what is a great photograph? How do you judge that? Does it boil down to point of view? How you see a situation? Is it original? Does liking it on Facebook make it a great picture? Do I need validation? Is the composition good? Was the photograph spontaneous? Does it have energy? Does it have a story? Do you need story? Expression? When Questions begin to frustrate me, I remember this quote.
“If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, which is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold
You are capturing mostly in black and white. Can you please tell me the reason behind?
I shoot digital, therefore in colour, but I see black & white images in my head. I once jokingly told my friend my camera is colour blind.
When you photograph, do you have a theme / idea in mind?
No I stumble upon a situation and I wait and accidents to happen. All of a sudden a breeze will blow or a bird will fly before me or a dog will start running or I bump into someone and the camera will shake.
When I saw your portfolio, your photos are very simple and powerful. How will you achieve this unique style?
Again, thanks to my training in advertising. With an ad, you have only seconds within which to communicate your message. So we tend to keep images simple and to the point. That is the hardest part of advertising: your visual should seek to be understood even by an illiterate person. Simple becomes powerful. Removing what is not the picture and what is not the message becomes art.
Please choose your favorite pictures from your gallery and share the story behind the making?
I wanted to take a bird’s eye view of the Taj Hotel, when suddenly a bird appeared out of the blue. This photograph tends to evoke a different emotion in a post-Kasab Mumbai.
I was sitting down to take a photograph of the man sitting beside the horse, when I saw the dog approach. I moved towards the dog and took a few photographs using him as the frame. In the end, this was the best of the lot. Sometimes, a good photograph requires an accident to happen.
As a photographer, how important is gear to you?
It is very important. You cannot become Abhinav Bindra holding a peashooter in your hand. But what you do with your equipment will make all the difference.
Who are your influences?
- Magnum Photos
- Swapan Parekh
- Raghu Rai
Will you ever feel like your work is completed?
Answer is no. Every time you take a photograph, the viewer see as image, but the photographer is juggling 20-30 balls at a time and you have 1/5000th of a second to get everything right. Invariably you drop lots of balls.
More Pictures – Click on the image to enlarge
You can find Prashant on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Prashant Godbole. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.