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How to capture the perfect shot?

AIMC student Anuska, who recently won a photography competition, talks about portraying life in monochromatic frames



Anuska Banerjee 

A resident of Kolkata, Anuska Banerjee (21) who is pursuing a course in PG Diploma, Advertising and Marketing from the Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication (AIMC), recently won a photography competition at Vritika 2021, the annual fest of Delhi Metropolitan Education.

Themed ‘Reflective Street’, the competition judged participants based on their ability to perceive and reflect upon entities in their daily life, pairing it with their know-how of photography. Anuska bagged the first position at the event. In an interview, she talks about her winning picture, photography skills, and perception of life. Edited excerpts:

What was the inspiration for your winning picture?

Incidentally, this picture wasn’t captured by any professional camera. I clicked it with a regular Nokia phone a while ago and was surprised how it caught the jury’s attention at the competition.

As you can see, the picture is blurred and mystical in nature but before describing it, I want to start with a quote by the celebrated Indian photographer and photo-journalist, Raghu Rai. He once said that, “A photograph has picked up a fact of life, and that fact will live forever”.

So, this photograph was captured somewhere near my home in Kolkata and it was raining heavily that day. As the city has some potholes, I saw a man standing on the street right opposite to it, his shadow spread out on the ground. I captured that moment instinctively then and named the picture: World shattered, I endured.

I feel that everything in that picture has a living composition: the man, the street and the leaves. All combined as against the water give a reflection, the water metaphorically standing for the world falling apart. The picture is inclusive of turbulence, disasters and agonies of human life, something though shattered has been captured in a single frame. Despite these agonies, life does go on and I wish to glorify that through the picture.  

Do you agree that human life is all about endurance?

Yes, I feel so. People suffer each day, but it’s not just them. It’s the natural objects and animals, too. We must put a thought to it and observe things around us.

What equipment are you currently using?

I use a Nikon D5500 DSLR for my shooting.

Have you been practicing photography for a long time?

Not really, I do like particular frames and pictures. I feel I have an eye for it. I closely follow the work of Raghu Rai and his monochrome photography really excites me. Colours are present each day in our lives but what can be captured in black and white has a different essence. Black is bold and bossy, but white is calm and peaceful, and the mix of both can be thrilling.

Please give us a sneak-peek into your work.

There are two more pictures:  Hope and  Parallel Perspective. The first one has a setting of light coming through a deep dark space. The second is primarily round in nature, and it was captured at an academic institute in Kolkata. It has strong curves with a gate and it can be equally dispersed in two halves.

Do you seek inspiration from cinema or literature?

Yes, I follow both. The two persons whose work I am keenly interested in are: Satyajit Ray and Rabindranath Tagore. Charulata and Pather Panchali are my favourite movies by Ray. I am very fond of this kind of work, the lyrics and cinematography. It makes me ponder on perspective.

Since you are trying to capture objects beyond the naked eye, what is your take on life?

If you see life with your naked eye, it is simple but there will always be areas of concern. Whatever you give to your life, you get it back in small ways. So, if you give your best to it, then you will get the best in return.

Any specific picture that inspires you?

There is a photograph captured by Raghu Rai which is about a man looking outside the window of a bus. We can see other passengers sitting as well but the focus remains on one. The picture signifies travel and home-coming, and if a person returns home after a year, it usually has a lot of excitement. But, during the pandemic, several people have been stranded in cities away from their home, so the meaning of home-coming has now become different.

How has your college helped you?

My professor, Mr. Piyush Dutta sir has inspired and encouraged me. He was the one who asked me to participate in the competition and when I won, he was the first person I called. I am deeply thankful to him.

What is your ambition?

My priority is to focus on design and creativity and I would like to explore the field of media planning in future.

How can anyone learn the art of capturing?

Taking a picture can be as mindless and deep as one wants it to be. So, while clicking it is not just you can press a button, one needs to fix a frame first. My father always says that ‘a frame forms the pillar to the picture and I follow that.’

If I were to ask you to summarise yourself in a picture, what would that frame look like?

I would say that it will be a blank picture. It would have no object or subject. Because I want to let people put in their perception of me. 

Mrini Devnani is a Principal Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, conducts interviews, and contributes content to the website. Previously, she served as a Correspondent specialising in Edu-tech for the India Today Group. Her skill areas extend to Social Media and Digital Marketing. For any inquiries or correspondence, you can reach out to her at [email protected].