Mystery and the Unfolding

Biyas Chatterjee

PPerhaps celebration is the word that best describes Biyas Chatterjee’s photography: a celebration of color, a celebration of motion, but mostly, a celebration of life. Using unique perspectives, hidden meaning, and unexpected innocence, Biyas unfolds the mysteries of his land. Chatterjee’s work is a new take on the much photographed, and it is anything but common.

By profession I am an equity dealer. I have an interest in technical analysis of supply and demand in the stock market. I also have a fascination with mystery books and thriller films. I suddenly started photography in 2011 when my wife gave me a DSLR camera as a gift. Since then, I’ve had an emerging interest in photography. Biyas Chatterjee

WSP: Describe your photographic style. How did you develop your style?
BC: I have my own specific eye for photography. I capture what I see and love. I am usually a street photographer and that’s not the stereotypes like beggars and crows. There are stories happening all around us every minute that we do not notice. During these moments, when I have a camera with me, this is something I would like to capture, something that is persisting mainly in front of my eyes. The construction involved in each photograph is the essence of the story it carries. There was this photograph I was taking a while back, that involved red and yellow cars in the background. There was also a bus in the foreground which had two girls wearing red and yellow clothes. This is the unfolding aspect. I am more interested in people and their surroundings. In each photograph I capture, I tend to keep a relationship between the background and foreground within that image frame. From the very day I started taking pictures I have maintained this philosophy and as the time goes on, I am trying to make the background and foreground combination stronger.

WSP: Who inspires you other than photographers (artists, writers, music, architects, and philosophers)?
BC: I find this uncanny similarity between my photographs and mystery thriller writers. This aspect promptly involves the method of ‘unfolding’. I want to show the same in my photographs.

WSP: Have you ever had formal training?
BC: Not at all. I have always followed other photographers and how they framed their images. This made me study the aesthetics on my own. Another thing I did was study the camera technically from the Internet and other sources.

WSP: What are your photography weaknesses?
BC: There’s only one. It’s about finding the perfect subject.

WSP: Do you think a photographer must have ‘natural talent’ to become a great photographer?
BC: May or may not be. I can only speak for myself and I don’t think I have a natural talent for photography. I began shooting only a few years back. Since then, all I have tried to do is master the skill and the technicality involved. Still, I don’t think I can be called a great photographer.

WSP: What is your opinion regarding film vs. digital photography?
BC: I have never used an analog SLR camera or film SLR camera. Back in 1996 I used to take pictures using a Kodak KB-10 point and shoot with a film camera but it’s not in any way related to the work I do now. What I can say is that film photographers are way more skilled and sophisticated in this field. I have immense respect for them. And secondly, the trial and error method that digital photographers go through is nearly impossible for film photographers.

WSP: How does black and white vs. color play into your work? Do you find them to be totally separate beasts—or complementary?
BC: In my photographs, I usually prefer color. The reason being, my country is very colorful. And I am more inclined to portray my surroundings in color as it directly conveys the social emotions and the metanarrative through the visible flush. I believe B&W photography and color photography are totally different. I follow B&W photographers vehemently and when I do, I see how fascinatingly they can represent enormous emotions in grayscale. I have just started to learn B&W photography and am trying to understand this art.

WSP: What type of images do you view as cliché, overdone, or too common?
BC: There are photographs which tend to showcase the poverty that my country is sinking in, that too in a very mundane style that has been prevailing for years. Same use of grayscale, same use of old and poor human subjects and an extremely common and erroneous post processing of the images.

WSP: What were the difficulties you encountered first starting street photography?
BC: The first difficulty is fear of the reaction of random people whom I capture on the streets. The hesitation of clicking the shutter button while evaluating how these unknown people would react is what I have always faced. But this fear is depleting and I hope soon I would be able to overcome it.

WSP: What are some tips/advice you would give to yourself if you started street photography all over again?
BC: Practice, practice and practice.

WSP: Thank you for this interview Biyas.
Biyas Chatterjee at World-Street Photography (click)