I’m Saumalya Ghosh. I was born in a village in West Bengal, India. My father was a Mechanical Engineer and in my childhood I was very passionate about machines. I always wanted to become an engineer and today I am a Software Engineer by profession.
Clay modeling and painting were my childhood hobbies. I never preferred to express myself in words. I am a visual person. I always wanted to express myself through different visual forms. However, during my days with painting, I wasn’t really happy with my visual expression. Probably, I wasn’t really able to connect with my subject. I didn’t realize this until I took up photography in 2012-13.
I am a self-taught amateur photographer from Kolkata. I have been living here for last two decades. Photography is my biggest passion. In the beginning I used to take all sorts of pictures. Gradually I discovered, my natural inclination towards connecting to the human elements. And I started focusing more into street / documentary photography.
I am a member of In-Street collective, a street photography collective from India.
I love to see and photograph different people, places, culture and streets. However, my common aim is mostly the same – to capture the human element.
I love to see the small drama of everyday life as it is staged on the streets. Common people are my heroes and heroines who play themselves in this drama. I’m just a keen observer, a mere admirer and my job here is just to capture the candid, unposed and unguarded moments of this fascinating ‘Real Life’ drama through my own vision. I don’t want to interrupt or influence this ‘Real Life’ drama. I accept it as it is, in its original and purest form. I believe that reality can be stranger than what I can think of.
I think it’s important for my photograph to tell a story, evoke a particular emotion, surprise the viewers or make them laugh. Sometimes I find it interesting if my narrative is ambiguous and open to interpretations.
However, I never carry any pre-conceived idea when I shoot. I love to be surprised while I’m on the streets. I think novelty is the key which I always look for. I’m more than happy if my image becomes an experience.
I make sure my images are well composed. I shoot mostly in colors. Color plays a vital role to incorporate a psychological or emotional component into my image. I think color adds more information and increases the impact of the narrative.
I do not carry my camera all the time, photography is a deliberate activity for me. It’s also difficult for me to manage time between my job and my passion for photography. I mainly shoot my city Kolkata in every weekend. Apart from that I try to plan and set aside time for travel and photography. Mostly I try to leverage all the holidays.
First thing I want to mention is that I’m fortunate to live in India where going close to people on the streets is comparatively easy. I love the streets of big cities. However, I have special interest for two cities that I want to mention – Kolkata and Varanasi.
Kolkata (Calcutta) is one of the largest cities in India. Just over a century ago it was the capital of India until 1911. It is an ‘in your face’ city that shocks and charms the unsuspecting visitor. Kolkata is well-known as the City of Joy. For me, personally, Kolkata is defined by its wonderful people and its typical congruous street and daily life.
Varanasi, also known as Benaras and Kashi, is regarded as a holy city by Hindus. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In many ways Benaras epitomizes the very best and worst aspects of India. For me it’s a fascinating place where modernity meets tradition.
I love to roam around in the lanes of Kolkata and Benaras, and experience the life as it happens on the streets. I do not search for images. I know images will appear. I simply enjoy the whole process.
I had to go through different tough phases in life and street photography is what helps me to stay focused and stay positive. It is a kind of meditation for me. I cannot imagine life without it.
For me street photography is more than a genre of photography. It helps me to connect with the people. It’s how I look at the world around me, it’s how I feel about the place I live in, it’s how my fellow people are living their day-to-day lives in joy and pain. It’s also a way of self-discovery, a way of life.
While shooting on the streets, most of the time I have been well accepted by the people who have seen me taking their photos. Every time I experience this, I realize how good and kind-hearted my fellow people are that I hardly face any rejection, though at times I intrude into their privacy! I think I became more empathetic towards people.
Also when I capture a fleeting moment, when a serendipity happens only for a fraction of a second, it gives me pure joy! Street photography is therapeutic.