Today we launch a new section titled ‘In Focus’ which will be dedicated to featuring work of photographers. The work can be in any form, be it a feature, a long term project, a book, a collective, multimedia or a short film and can belong to any genre of photography be it journalism, fine art, fashion or documentary. It is completely open, there are no restrictions. This section will be available across all the three platforms that we publish on i.e. the website, on Flipboard and on Google Play News Stand.
The origin of photography lies in a need to record and document our surroundings as they are. In other words, photographers have always documented their immediate surroundings in order to preserve it in a certain way. Photographer Soumya Shankar Ghosal and his street photography collective “Streets of Calcutta” believe in doing the same.
“Streets of Calcutta was born out of a desire to create a collective photography project for our city of Kolkata. Though there are many photography collectives all across but to the best of our research we found there are no such collectives dedicated wholeheartedly to a city in this manner.”
In his own words, the objective is “… to create the highest quality photographic archive for a single city and to make it the single largest source of street photography from Calcutta ”
The idea for the project came to Ghosal from his own love and personal bond with the city he lives in. “Certain pockets of the city especially parts of north Kolkata and in the transport system you get see and feel the yesteryears. I have a big collection of photographs of the “old Calcutta” and they inspire me to now go to the same places and document them in their present state.”
It is in October of last year that he decided to expand the project and make it into a collective where in other can contribute. “We formally launched the project on 15th January 2015 on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. Since then the Project has received a tremendous response. I really love the fact that Photographers have connected so well to this Project.”
Since then the project is constantly expanding with new photographers joining in every month.
As a collective project it is open to all. Ghosal says “Anybody with interest of photographing daily life of our city is welcome to participate. It is a concept wherein anyone who is into street photography can be a part of the project. There are no memberships involved, there is no admin concept here.”
The project also involves conducting photo-walks on a bi-monthly basis as well as competitions and workshop regularly.
The project has a substantial presence online on Facebook, however the next step for the project is to also showcase their work in print form. “A long term objective would be to have an exhibition of our work. And a coffee table book is surely a dream.”
However, like most photographic projects of today, sourcing the funds to independently publish the work would be difficult. Ghosal admits “(for all this to materialize) it does require good funding. Unless a corporate house comes forward, it would be difficult to actualize. I would not want the exhibitors to bare the cost.” He does remain hopeful though. The project has received support from Tamron – India for conducting its competitions.
Ghosal has been photographing the city for a long time. On the changes that he has observed he mentions, “Kolkata has changed a lot on the outide but the people have remained the same at heart. There are many places to explore. Although I was born here, I am exploring the city till today.”
The project has changed him personally too. “From being born a Calcuttan to a photographer now documenting Calcutta it has changed my outlook towards life. It is after photographing life on the streets that I appreciate life better.”
All images courtesy Streets of Calcutta and used with permission. The copyrights of the photographs rest with the photographers.
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