Meet Subodh Shetty from Dubai who starts to unveil his thirst for portrait and travel photography. In this fine interview with 121clicks.com, Subodh tells us what makes this genre so fascinating for him. His words are clear and he looks definitely a young and confident extrovert. Going through his pictures, the moments he had captured speaks for themselves and the portraits are emotional and vivid as well. His sense for colors and composition takes him step ahead in today’s world of contemporary photographers. Read and get inspired.
Could you please introduce yourself?
I am a Dubai-based Travel and Portrait Photographer. To me, photography isn’t just a hobby or passion but a way of life.
How did photography happen to you?
Back in school, while other boys were reading comics, I spent my time in the library devouring National Geographic magazines. The photographs made my jaw drop. But then, the fascination was more with the photographs and not photography itself. Those were deep impressions but without any knowledge of the process.
Full credit to the magnificent city of Dubai – it triggered an inner urge to explore the world of photography. To cut a long story short, the city kept beckoning me to capture its stunning cityscapes. Initially, long exposure photography was a huge fascination. But as the years rolled by, things changed and my focus narrowed down to the genre of travel and portrait photography.
Why did you choose Travel and People photography?
Every photographer, or any artist, for that sake, needs to connect with what he/she does. That is when they are able to unleash their talents.
Though I did enjoy the initial process of shooting cityscapes and long exposures, somewhere down the line, I failed to emotionally connect to the images. I believe in having a human touch within every image I take – it amplifies the power of a photograph.
And with travel and portrait photography I can feed my senses in abundance. All my journeys are about people and not just the place. While traveling, I enjoy the process of initiating conversations with absolute strangers. It is a pleasing way to build my gallery.
What difference has photography made to your life?
It has changed my entire perspective towards life. Priorities changed, visions changed and as a person, I have changed from being a shy introvert to a more confident extrovert.
You have captured some soulful portraits. What is the secret to capture a good portrait?
Technicalities aside, I believe, the first important aspect in making compelling portraits is to connect with the subject. In my case, I take portraits with full consent of the person and always have them look right into the camera. Eye contact is everything.
Which gets me to the main point –‘Connect’. Initiate a conversation, crack some jokes, be silly and lighten the mood before you actually make a portrait. It is very important to establish a rapport and gain the trust of the person before pressing the shutter.
The next important aspect is speed. I do believe in spending a lot of time in conversations with the subject. But when it comes to shooting their portrait, it does not take more than two to three minutes. The authenticity of the moment starts to lessen with every extra minute. Read the light, decide the composition and execute it without dragging the session beyond a point.
Please choose one picture from your portfolio and share the story behind the making?
How does one create a unique image of a place that has been shot a million times? As photographers, it is very important for us to think differently– that is the challenge. The above image of the Tajwas created at Mehtab Gardens.
Those familiar with the place will know that the garden hosts hundreds of trees. My job was to pick the most pleasing ones, which would contribute to my composition. In this case, I used the composition rule of framing and waited for the human element to add soul to the image. The wait was not easy – it was early morning ; a cold and rainy day.
It took close to 45 minutes of waiting before the person finally walked through the frame. But those 45 minutes were not just about the waiting. It was also about fine-tuning -stop by stop,corner by corner, inch by inch. In the end, it was worth it. This particular image made the cut in the ‘National Geographic Travellers Contest 2015’ as one of the contenders and it was also promoted on various channels of NatGeo later and was honored to receive editors’ favorite from Daniel Westergren, the Director of Photography at Nat Geo.
I always say – to be a good photographer, you need to have ‘Vision of an eagle and patience of a saint’. Strive and develop both qualities with practice.
What do you strive to shoot and how do you keep yourself motivated all the time?
You need to keep the creative juices flowing all the time, if you really want to be a better photographer. I believe in practice and challenge. Being a Dubai resident, the city is my playground where I practice and learn from my mistakes. But Dubai isn’t an easy pitch to practice upon, especially, for street and portrait photography. But that’s no excuse.
I create personal projects, though they are not often posted online, they make me walk the streets of Dubai,practice and create. To name a few:
- Project ‘Shoot Them All’ – A project where I borrow cameras from friends. With a ‘brand-no-bar , genre-no-bar’ approach, I walk the streets and create a keeper within two to three hours of the walk. This is challenging as I use an unfamiliar borrowed camera – the pressure to create a keeper within few hours of walking makes me think and see the way I would never do otherwise.
- Project ‘Dubai Up-Close’ – This involves shooting the concrete jungle at 200mm. The basic idea is to depict a compressed vision with a human touch.
- Project ‘Eye-Scream’ – This involves shooting at a famous ice cream joint in Dubai. I observed that almost anyone passing through that little alleyway would stop and buy an ice cream. I am creating a series of ‘On-The-Face’ photographs, which shows people savoring their favorite indulgence.
These projects keep my eyes busy and senses receptive. They keep me warmed up till my next travel. So don’t rust – keep shooting.
I admire and learn from the works of Steve McCurry, Raghu Rai, Raghubir Singh, James Nachtwey, Ed Kashi, Annie Griffiths, Jodi Cobb, Jimmy Nelson, Alison Wright. The list can go on 😉
Though I’m not a dedicated street photographer per se, but I do enjoy the work of VineetVohra, RohitVohra, Matt Stuart, David Gibson, Siegfried Hansen and more.
You have any favorite photography books?
Hard to choose but here are some of my favorites :
- Untold – The stories behind the photographs – Steve McCurry
- The Iconic Photographs – Steve McCurry
- River of Color – The India of Raghubir Singh
- Children of Bombay – Dario Mitidieri
- The Street photographers manual – David Gibson
Best compliment you received so far?
I get this quite a bit – “You work resembles that of Steve McCurry”. I have no intention to mimic Steve but it is a compliment I whole-heartedly accept,at least from a viewers point of view, to be in a distant shadow of the legend.
- Workhorses – Nikon D4s, Nikon D800, Nikkor Trinity.
Practice machines – Fujifilm X100s, Ricoh GRII.
Apart from Photography, tell us your hobbies and interests?
Photography leaves me with no roomor time for any other hobbies / interests to sneak in.
Any final thoughts and words of advice for our readers?
If you are fresh to the field, go out and shoot everything. Down the line you will find your style – then channel your energy into specializing in that genre.
Do not be overwhelmed by gear or megapixels or such. (Higher megapixel may only lead to showcasing mediocre pictures in greater detail). Utilize what you have and invest time in developing skills. Gears make pictures. Add passion and you end up with photographs.
Buy books – lots of them and read them over and over again.
Above all, DO NOT be enslaved by online fame. Never chase or feel belittled by Facebook likes or rating systems on other photography sharing sites. Instead, chase your passion to create and inspire. Pour all your energy into generating a great body of work, which speaks for itself. Create your own signature. Never shoot for name or fame, just shoot for the love of the game. The rest will follow…
You can find Subodh Shetty on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Subodh Shetty. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.
Good One Subodh , Keep going , all the best for your upcoming projects ,
Thanks Vidhyaa 🙂
Wow…great inspiring interview..very well written Subodh…all are good shots too…good luck to for more and more achievements…
Beautiful work Subodh. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Nimish 🙂
It is,so inspiring and knowledgable. I feel proud that I have the opportunity to associate with him to learn photography.
Thanks amd all the best Subodh.
Thanks for your kind words Bala – It was and is my pleasure to teach at Petrofac 🙂
Thanks Rk Rao 🙂
Great work! Your photos are beautiful and inspiring
Thanks Hannah…Glad you enjoyed my work and found it inspiring 🙂
Now I am inspired in street photography by you.