Saurabh is one such young talented photographer of India who visualize the beauty of nature behind the lens and present it to audience in a magical way which impresses all. He is not at all a simple guy. He is the one who is working hard to give new vision to budding photographers not only in India but also across globe with his photography online photography classes under the banner SIA Photography. Meeting for the first time a photographer and entrepreneur Saurabh Chatterjee
1) Who is Saurabh Chatterjee as a human being? Please share about your professional and educational life besides your family background.
As a human being, I believe to live every moment in life to the fullest. I strongly believe and strive to practice in Robert Baden-Powell’s words – Leave this world a little better than you found it.
I belong to a middle-class Bengali family, born and brought up in Patna, Bihar. Despite constraints, my younger brother (my only sibling) and me got the best education available. I have been moving all over India for my higher education and on job.
I have a Master’s degree in Computers and worked in the IT industry for about a decade before quitting my job and getting into full-time photography training.
I started traveling alone at a very young age. Photography and traveling go hand in hand. So, whenever I used to travel, I took pictures. My first camera was a Fuji film film point and shoot camera which I bought from the money I earned teaching tuition’s to kids in the year 1996.
The journey has been awesome! It definitely took me places and made my life worth living.
Initially, it was all about going places and sharing the pictures with my friend and family. As my pictures started getting published, I got a much larger audience now.
To some extent, I was able to capture the beauty of our country, and the quest continues. Though there are always disappointments of missing moments with every shoot, it also gives immense joy to see the pictures that were captured beautifully.
The beginning was difficult though. I had to wait for a long time before I could have enough money to buy my first DSLR. Those days, the internet was not that rich with information and there were hardly any short-term courses. I learnt by trial and error and it took time.
4) Life of a photographer is not simple, so what are the obstacles you faced so far?
There are many.
Technically, one of the biggest challenges is to get the right kind of light. For landscapes, the best times are the early mornings and evenings which you can have only for a couple of hours during the whole day. There are many limitations of the camera and the lenses as well with which we have to live and make the best of what I have.
When I travel to far-away places it’s always a challenge taking pictures of people. It takes time to make people comfortable to get a good expression. I was always a shy person and made things difficult for me. Things became much easier after I got married as now I ask my wife to do this part of requesting people especially ladies.
5) Who acted as an inspiration in your life?
My father was always my greatest inspiration. He was also very passionate about photography. Once, when Patna was being flooded, they announced in radio that people can go back home from offices. My father went back home and came back with a camera and took some great pictures.
6) Can you recall the day when you first clicked and what was the subject of that click?
Yes, I do. When I got my new camera I remember clicking pictures of my father and my family.
7) When you decide to launch Sia Photography and why?
I had a lot of difficulties to start photography as a beginner. There were hardly any short-term courses for amateurs like me. Hence I always realized the need to educate. I started sharing knowledge with friends in small sessions and then more people joined me. The results I got from the participants was very encouraging. Many started getting appreciations in their circles and many others got prizes in competitions. After I got a steady inflow of people, I thought of doing this seriously.
8) Please explain the profile of Sia Photography and its mission?
SIA comes from three words – Shutter, ISO and Aperture, the critical components that makes a picture. In Persian, ‘sia’ means, something that gives you happiness. What could have been a better name?
We cater to the needs of people of all age groups who are passionate about photography and want to take this to the next level.
Our mission is to make ‘every camera-owner a great photographer’. Now, that almost everyone has at-least a mobile phone camera, it is for anyone and everyone to make the best use of what they have to make better pictures.
9) Which is your favorite genre of photography and why it attracts you most?
My favorite genre of photography is travel. Since my first love is traveling, I want to see places and capture the flavor in the best possible way. A place can be about the people and their attire, landscape, local food, etc.
I am always excited about travel photography because there is always something new and exciting that you come across. No two places are same, especially in India. You move a few hundred kilometers the whole environment changes – the terrain, the language, the culture, the food, and festivals, etc.
India is so unique. For example, the festivals of Dussehra or Sankranti is celebrated is totally different ways in different parts of India.
10) What are you other passions in life?
My second passion is teaching – sharing the little knowledge that I have gained over the years. Apart from that, I love trekking in the Himalayas. I have been fortunate to go back to the hills almost every year since a decade
11) Any WOW moments in your journey as photographer?
There have been many. The most memorable one was when one of my picture was published on the cover page of a poetry book. I was in the book release function and many people asked for my autograph.
12) Is editing important for the perfect look of a photograph?
Yes, absolutely. Editing is a crucial step to get the final output and this is how I explain it for people who are against it – No matter how beautiful a bride is, she always wears a makeup and gets her hair done and wears a beautiful dress. Similarly, editing brings out the best of a picture.
Of course, while taking pictures we need to assume there is nothing called post processing and strive do our best to get a good shot.
13) What are your plans 5 years down the line?
From next year, I will be starting to take people out for experiential tours to different locations where enthusiasts will learn while on the move. I also want to reach out to the northern part of India for classes.
I want to write more. Over the past years, I have just been taking pictures. I have started blogging recently about my travels. By five years, I will have a very well organized framework where travelers can seek information about almost any place in India.
I plan to publish some books on learning photography especially one for kids.
I am also working on two books – one on festivals and the other on the cultural heritage of India which will probably take another ten years to complete to have rich and diverse content.
14) You received any special training in this field?
Yes, I have received training from Osmania university and City of Glasgow college, UK
15) Being a photographer what you feel is absent in present day young photographers?
One thing is the attitude while clicking. With the advent of digital cameras, we have started taking photography very casually. We don’t think before we click.
During the film days, we used to very thoughtful and used to give our best to every press of the button. Now, since there is no cost involved after buying the camera, we just take too many pictures and most of them are of mediocre quality.
16) Any advise for budding photographers?
The first photograph was taken in 1790 and since then according to a calculation we have shot more than 3.5 trillion photos. There are hardly any subjects that have not been shot.
Our objective should be to create something new, a different approach to the same subject to make it interesting. Otherwise, we will just be creating similar stuff again and again. And it’s not too difficult if we think about it.
17) How you rate yourself as a photographer?
Well, I leave it up to you to rate me J
Personally, the more I learn from my mistakes, the more I realize my zero-ness. There is not end to learning.
I am yet to take my best shot…
Check out more about Saurabh: