Ever felt like living your work all your life? If you are passionate about it like Rajib De, then you won’t have considered it as work for a single day of your life. Photography is his life. An exhibition of photographs by him, is on view in the Capital along with a book of his photographs. He has captured photographs of two towns, Hampi and New Town. Today Hampi lies silent, its old magnificence faded and in ruins. And new cities are rising out of the rural soil. One of these, called Newtown, is waking into being, in another part of India. The book of photographs by him is a glimpse into a great Indian city with a grand past and a future city waking into shape.
“From my childhood days I loved to paint. So I started painting with watercolours on different types of subjects that came to my mind or which I found fascinating. When I was in the 12th standard in school, one of my friends who was a photographer, took me to his darkroom. When I saw photographs slowly emerging from the chemicals, I found it amazing and was spellbound. Then I realised that painting was not my cup of tea, and that photography was what I wanted to take up. From that day onwards I became interested in photography. Then I started learning how to take good photographs. I am self-taught and haven’t done any course in photography, and had no teacher,” says De.
Talking about his early years, he recalls, “After my graduation I started playing cricket, I was a professional cricketer. I played first division in Kolkata, and played in the Under-15 team in Bengal. In the meantime, photography was a parallel hobby. I forgot all about painting and drawing, and started exploring potential exhibition photos with the camera in local areas. I would take photographs of interesting things and whatever intrigued me.”
“My uncle introduced me to a gentleman who worked in a publication at a senior position, if I could take photographs for them. That person was impressed with my photos and hired me. I started working with that publication and in 1995 I switched to another publication where I worked for 15 years. That was a wonderful experience for me. Then I started my own projects and my first one was on Kolkata. I then started taking pictures of the new mini cities coming up in Kolkata,” adds De.
“The next thing I did was starting to surf the net for pictures of Hampi and visited it. I took some pictures in Hampi. Then I got back home and compared the pictures of New Town and Hampi, and I found that Hampi was an ancient city whilst New Town was a modern city. I edited the pictures and now I am doing this exhibition. I’m working on multiple projects. The journey has been wonderful and photography is an amazing art which enriches you everyday, every moment. I am very happy and my soul is happy too. I love taking black and white photos in a panoramic format. It is a special camera with a ratio of one is to three. I love this format because I can explore and expand huge things. My message to people through this exhibition and through my pictures is that India is a wonderful country. If one explores the country, he or she will find fascinating and beautiful things from ancient to modern. There is complete harmony and I love my country,” he continues.
Talking about his journey he says, “Being a photographer I am lucky as I can click pictures of our country. There are ancient sculptures here, civilizations are here, and modern cities are also present. The people and religions of this country are lovely. There is also a rich tapestry of varied natural landscapes and terrains.”
His advice for upcoming photographers: “Be honest about what you want to do. Be focussed. Even though you have to sacrifice a lot for your passion, it is truly worth it. Money is not the most important thing. Being a photographer I won’t be a rich man but in another sense I am a rich man. There is a project I am working on based on ancient India, the forgotten India. I love music apart from photography. Nature, trees, rain, mountains, people... I just love them all.”