A self-taught passionate photographer, especially in capturing candid Street moments, Architectural Life and of Travel stories domain, Mr. Navin Vatsa is a combination of versatile personality. He has his Master’s Degree in Computer Applications and taught computers to graduate and post graduate students for over 9 years.
He also served Jagannath University, Jaipur as Joint Registrar for 7 years, and now from last 3 years he has devoted his full time to his in-born Art, Photography. So with the experience of teaching, administration and Art, he has the ability to visualize and implement the creative ideas in photography to complete his compositions with some unique stories. Photography is like Meditation for him. He love to compose in Colors and Monochrome both. His Monochrome Versions has the power to spread colors in the mind of viewers.
He has been awarded and recognized by various International and National organizations of repute such as National Geographic, UNESCO, Sony World, Sony India, Inspiro India, Asian Photography & imaging magazine(Nov 2016, Dec 2016 with complete portfolio, February 2017 issues), Creative Image Magazine, Heritage youth Foundation Delhi, Camarena Academy (Best photographer of the year 2016 and awarded by Sir Raghu Rai for the same). One of his photograph was published by Sony India in its “Annual Calendar 2016”.
Recently in April-May 2017 by “SONY World Photography Award” one of his photograph of Travel category got commended by the juries and placed within top best 50 out of 105,692 submission from 182 countries and exhibited at the prestigious Somerset House, London from 21st April to 7th May, 2017.
He is one of the Mentor and Admin of a largest Facebook Photography group, Camarena Academy.
You can find Navin Vatsa on the Web:
What is your first childhood memory?
Childhood is always very interesting to remember. It’s like recalling all beautiful memories full of fun and no worries at all. I was very good in Drawing and Painting, U can say a God gifted attribute in me. Till class 7th (after class 7th drawing was not in our course) I always secure 100% marks in this subject. Even when any Teacher needed some help in decorating something during any school events they first used to call me to get my opinion.
The most memorable to remember, when I was in class 5. In drawing period we were assigned to draw Rabbit from our drawing book. Besides drawing Rabbit, additionally I drew its shadow too that was not in book. My teacher got surprised, she praised me a lot and recognized my additional ability. After that she started calling me “little genius”.
One more memory that my mother told me. When I was just 4 years old and not be able to write A, B, C properly… but was very good at drawing. Once I made a drawing of cup and plate used to drink tea on that time. The most notable part of that drawing was, I also drew a line of vapour evaporating from the cup of tea. Now when I remember these stories of my childhood, I feel more energetic and innovative for my work today…
Are you still learning who you are?
Learning is an ongoing process for self. I am always curious in finding… Who I am…? Why I am..? Where I am…? And as a single parent of my 10 year old Son it gives me more strength personally as well as professionally in taking right decisions. I think it’s endless… at every phase of life learning helps us to become a good human being first.
Who are you when no one is looking at you?
I am always same as I am, either anyone is looking at me or not. But yes as a single parent I am much flexible to my Son emotionally.
What got you involved in photography in the first place?
12 years back I purchased a simple film camera of very low budget, Kodak-K10 and started shooting with it some family moments. In 2006 December when we blessed with a Son, I got habitual to click him daily after returning from my day long job. Kid’s moments are really very precious. Some moments between Mother and son was like my life time memories and I am very much emotionally attached to it… (First time through this public platform, I am going to share one of that moment taken in 2007 with my film camera and now again clicked from its print). Here is that one…
Unfortunately in November 2009, I lost my wife in an accident and suddenly life got changed. I was almost helpless and clueless in finding the way how I will live and handle my Son for the rest of life. Almost a 10 years of beautiful journey with her came to a complete halt and there was a complete void in my life for several years. During that period, I was totally concentrated on my Son and on my Job only. Forget everything about photography. 3 years before when my Son got slightly mature and strong, I started looking back to my past journey and thousands of printed photographs of my Son and my wife pricked me so many times and I realized I am missing something very badly. It was very tough but I reunited myself, purchased a DSLR and decided to make stories through photographs for rest of the journey of my life…
Ansel Adams once said: You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved. Could you tell us about your favorite photographs, books, music and people who are closest to you?
Yes its 100% true…The medium of Photography is very much influenced with all such things those we experienced through life. Again I would like to remember my 10 years old photograph that I have clicked with my film camera that I want to see again and again even its my whole life inspiration. The books that I love to mention here are “Who will Cry when You Die” by Robin Sharma, “You Can Win” and “Living with Honour” by Siv Khera. In music the old ones of 70s and 80s sung by Legendry Kishore Kumar are always very inspiring to me. And obviously the bond, understanding and love between me and my Son is the biggest inspiration in my Photography. Recently I photographed a moment that was my regular routine after the death of my wife… Titled “Fatherhood”, here is that one…
There’s a thin line between invading people’s privacy and taking their photographs. Why do ethics matter?
Even ethics maters in all our work. It’s a sense of respect for all type of things that we see and photograph. Especially when we are on street, travel, or during documentary shoot, it matters a lot. We are always morally confident and feel high when our work done under the boundary of ethics. For me it matters a lot.
Bruce Gilden claims that photography is a voyeuristic medium. Does it resonate with you?
No, not at all.
Have you ever acted rude in front of people you have tried to photograph?
Never happen till date and might be, will never happen in future. I am very polite by nature.
Have you ever been following your subject that the person could eventually think you’re a stalker or a pervert?
I am happy that till date it never happened with me. Yes I follow some subjects when I find or assume that something interesting is going to happen next. But I do it in a very sophisticated manner.If suddenly noticed by someone whose activities were captured by me, I respond with a smile on my face. Would like to share one story here. During the month of February this year I was almost a regular visitor of Yamuna ghat in my city Delhi. In a sequence for 2 days I observed a common daily routine by a local wrestler of cleaning ghats (Stairs of the bank of river Yamuna) first, than taking bath followed by offering prayer to lord Sun. I simply watched him from a distance for 2 days…even he passed smiles to me in between his activities and I replied with a return smile to him. On 3rd day suddenly when I realized a dramatic environment just behind his regular activity of cleaning ghats, I picked up my camera, got down to the floor and clicked a very energetic moment within a fraction of second without any fear of either he will resist or not. Even it was very satisfying to me that after the completion of his all process, he asked me with a surprise and care… Is your camera ok…?? I replied with smile…Yes. He said than how fast you are…!!! I replied it’s my work and then he became friendly with my presence on Yamuna ghat whenever I visited that place again and again. Here is that photograph…
Gloria Steinem once said that the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. Are you getting nervous when someone goes deeper and scrutinizes your work?
Yes in initial days of photography when I first participated in a competition it happened with me too. But now I feel more and more comfortable and confident when get scrutinize deeply. It makes me more knowledgeable and confident for my next work…
What if you take images for a couple of years and don’t get a positive audience reaction? Would you be still taking them?
I am very passionate and true to my Artwork. With a definite vision, I enjoy my work. Photography is like meditation to me that releases my stress and the void created after the death of my wife. So I can’t look back…I will continue it till my last breath.
Do you often get jealous of someone’s achievements?
As a human nature it happens with me too once or twice, but I never reacted or talked about it negatively. Even such issues gives me strength and makes me more mature towards my own style of photography. And I love to fail in my originality.
If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of another artist, who would you choose and why?
If this happen I will certainly prefer to wake up in my own body and to complete the work that was left previously…
What artist made the most impact on you and why?
Frankly saying, I am very poor in remembering names of great photographers, but yes I’m a very keen observer and gives priority to reading and understanding of various photographers works done during 80s and 90s. But yes some names like Sir Raghu Rai, Sir S. Paul, Sir Henri Cartier and from recent days the name of Mr. Vineet Vohra would like to mention here. As far as the inspiration is concern some names from Indian Cinema, Music Industry, Lyricist/writers and Cricketers, I would like to mention here are Mr. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ms. Nandita Das, Mr. Piyush Mishra, Sir Gulzar Saheb and Mr. MS Dhoni are on my priority list.
If you could have personally witnessed a perfect street scene at the right decisive moment, what would you want to have seen?
A moment that can never be captured again…even not by me…
If you could witness and photograph any historical moment of the past, present – or future – what would it be?
It’s difficult to say that what I want to see in future but yes if the moments are related to past than anything or any moment that takes us to that memory with a strong connectivity to the scene and we feel that the things are happening right now live…
What’s on your photography bucket list this year?
Generally I don’t plan things in advance. But yes would like to visit North eastern states of India specially known as Seven Sisters, The city of traditional Art and culture, Kolkata, Spiritual City Varanasi as many times as possible and some parts of Rajasthan to capture the memories and essence of these places.
What do you like to do outside of photography?
From the last 3 years Photography has been my life companion, but as a single parent I love to spend rest of my time with my son.
Blind and live forever or be able to see and die in a couple of years?
Both situations are not acceptable to me. Would like to see and contribute to my Artwork, so that people from art fraternity and my country can feel proud on my work someday.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
In Hinduism we believe that the Soul is immortal, and personally I believe that the Art is immortal. So I want that people will remember me every day through my Art.
About Arek Rataj
“You Can Shoot. Can You Talk?” is a series of interviews created by Arek Rataj. He is a Qatar-based journalist, contemporary photographer and educator.
Arek was born in a small industrial district in communist Poland under the Soviet Union dictatorship. In midst of this human misery, political hypocrisy, environmental dirt and ugliness, he became particularly sensitive for all signs of beauty and transcendence.
You can find Arek Rataj on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Navin Vatsa. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.