An Interview with a Street Photographer: Navin Vatsa

Observation, dedication, and perseverance can go a long way in shaping up your future and in deciding what you make of your life. That is exactly what we understand when we observe the world through the lens of ace Street and documentary photographer Navin Vatsa. A single father and an ex-registrar, Navin Sir found his calling with time and then when he finally started pursuing it with full dedication, there was no looking back. Acclaimed wide and far, his nuances in watching the world around him is quite unmatched for. Read on to know more about him.

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P. S. – Copyright of all the captures in the article lies with ©Navin Vatsa

Navin Vatsa

Q. Would you kindly introduce yourself to our reader? Along with the genre of your photography and on which project are you working currently? What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I have started my journey in photography with a simple point and shoot Kodak K-10 with the sole intention to capture family moments almost 15 years back. But life has its own plans while you are busy with your own. After an accidental death of my wife’s in 2009, the loneliness and responsibilities towards my Son as a single parent completely consumed me and the love for photography lingered on for many years. One day while flipping through old family albums, I realized my calling, my inner voice and again purchased a new digital camera and started practicing during weekends and holidays.

Almost 5 years back, I gain some confidence and purchased a DSLR and by leaving my 16 years long teaching and administrative career in a reputed University decided to turn a full time photographer. My life as an educator and administrator helped me find the maturity to visualize and develop ideas and implement them through my photography. 

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I am much more inclined towards street photography and currently working on my own project “VOICE”. As far as the achievements are concerned, it’s an ongoing process to me and in the last 3 years I am well recognized and awarded by National Geographic, Sony world Photography organization, Sony India, Govt. of Delhi, Creative Image Magazine and many other reputed organizations.

Q. What attracts you to your genre? Whose work has influenced you most?

Taking pictures is a natural phenomenon, even when I had not adopted photography as my profession, I loved to shoot with my film camera and Point and shoot camera. Initially, capturing family moments were in my priority. After 2014 November, when I purchased my first DSLR, I started shooting much, started going out regularly, even early morning almost every day…with the start of the year 2016, I had started understanding my potential and started taking story telling photographs and realized that when I connect with my subjects deeply, I am able to make realistic compositions that defines something more than just a photograph, even from the most ordinary looking situations. After that I decided to tell those simple but extra ordinary stories that is unnoticed in this fast going daily life… By roaming on the streets of Delhi, many times I found my own life journey defined by many other characters either human, nature or animals. So reading and exploring my own personality or taking photographs are just vice versa to me…  

I love to notice all those moments that are often overlooked…Observation is the primary key in photography that develop our patience to stay at the same place for hours in anticipation of some decisive moments that is probably going to happen. So I spent many days and many hours at places that I have observed and by reading the various activities, I believe imagination and finally, I compose when some defined situations occur…During the process of making photographs some of the time moments are so spontaneous, that we don’t have time to think and we just compose them in fraction of seconds and add our views later…  
I don’t like the word “Influence”. It sounds very negative to me… But yes I am inspired from many genuine personalities from various fields of Art and Literature… 

Q. Is it important to have any professional training to be a photographer? Did you have any at the time you set off your journey? 

It all depends upon the type of work U do. If you are Street, Documentary, or Travel photographer you don’t need any formal training as these genera are very close to your own knowledge, observations, reading, understanding, interpretations and intuitions and no one can teach you this form of Art. This form of Art is your inner instinct that you have to evolve with continuous and dedicated practice. I wake up at early morning, and go to shoot almost every day. There is no shortcut of practice, practice and practice… 

Q. When you go in one of your photo-shoots which one is your favorite lens and why do you prefer it?

Every days is like a day for me that I consider as Photo shoot. Equipment’s are only a tool to me to execute my Vision. So nothing as such favorite. Even when I don’t carry my camera I love to shoot with my mobile. 

5. How do you as a photographer make sure that the thing, person or landscape you want to shoot looks the way you want it to? 

Hopefully the answer is hidden in my previous replies, and some are in just next…

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Q. Can you explain to the budding photographer what makes the good picture stand out from the average?

Hope below points are enough to understand the facts behind: 

  1. Keep your Mind’s Eye active all the time.
  2. Identify the right subject/s & stay with the subject with patience.
  3. Get in closer to catch the emotions behind.
  4. Find the right angle to shoot to extract maximum from the situations.
  5. Look around the subsidiary subjects that relates to main subject.
  6. Give weighted to composition.
  7. Look for extra ordinary moments that can’t be produced again.
  8. Believe your Imagination…
  9. Always be more aggressive.
  10. True to yourself.

7. What is so important in documenting something or in street photography?

To me Street photography is not just a genera, rather it defines my personality and character both… It has given me the way of understanding myself…Who I am, why I am…What to see…what to observe…and what to compose in a form of story, either small or large… I believe in imagination that comes from observing various situations that I encounter, either in my city Delhi or at my hometown, or travelling to many other places… 
In last 3 years I am working on the concept of “Travel-Street”, where the main priorities on moments as well as bringing out the essence of place too…I am very much close to nature, and almost all my images depicts the hidden part of my personality…Nature is pure, so the Street is…Here we can’t manipulate things…Whole surrounding is a big stage for us but the moments that we capture are un-staged…When we are on street, we have to keep our minds eye active all the time…I always try to look for extra ordinary moments that can’t be produced again…I always try to find some story from most ordinary looking situations that can communicate something… 

Q. A “Good Camera can make a Picture perfect” do you believe this myth?

“A good equipment/ camera can produce best results only when they are in the best hands”. Best hands means a person with definite Vision and he/she must be aware about What, Why, and How.

9. What is that you have adhered and learned through photography over the years?

Discipline, Dedication and aggressive approach in right direction.

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Q. What do you think of B&W versus Colour with street photography?

Black and white or colour both depends upon the Vision and Storytelling forms, and I prefer both as the situation, time and captured moments required. Some black and white compositions are enough powerful to left many colours in the mind of viewers for years…

Q. Which post processing software you use for your pictures? 

I use adobe LIGHTROOM to process my images.

12. Many of the photographers ask us where they find out about the salon news or exhibition  news. Can you please give them some idea?

Frankly, I am hardly attracted towards any Salon and as Street Photographer I don’t suggest anyone to look for that. Maximum of work on these Salon platforms are staged and that is the worst side of Street Photography. These days Instagram is one of the popular platform to get information’s about various exhibitions, competitions and News. 

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Q. Name the last photography book/journal that you read.

Picturing Time by Sir Raghu Rai, an incredible set of images for reading and learning. 

Q. Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other amateur photographer? 

Any amateur photographer of today can be a professional photographer of tomorrow if they are committed to their work in right direction.

  Q. Any quick message for our blog? Thanks for your time!   

Wishing your whole team best wishes, and appreciate your steps towards bringing some good and valuable set of information and interviews for the beginners so that they can feel motivated in the journey of photography as well as in personal life too… 

Thank you Navin Sir, for your valuable guidelines and sharing your thoughts with us. We look forward to seeing more of your wonderful work…!

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