"Education is obviously important but your skills will only be mastered by putting yourself out there and not worrying too much about making mistakes."
Words by Nelli Yli-Malmi and Arnab Ghosal
Arnab Ghosal describes his practice on his page as follows:
"I am predominately a street portrait and headshot photographer based in London. I was drawn to photography during a 6 month trip to South America and have been shooting ever since.
My photography is based on the things I love... people, travel, street and music. It's this combination (well.. apart from the music) which led me to the100 Strangers project and as a result I have met some fantastic people from all over the world."
This week we are interviewing a London based Creative, Arnab Ghosal: street portrait, headshot and travel Photographer currently working on a second round of a project called 100 Strangers, which he, according to his blog, started "as a means to improve my portrait photography and, more importantly, because I thought it was cool." Inspired by award winning photographers like Steve McCurry and newer photographers such as Danny Santos, Arnab decided to have a go himself and found the task of asking a random person for their photograph not as easy as he thought. He explains: "I didn’t want to take just average snapshots but to make portraits of people that revealed something about that person. And it took time for me complete the project, over 2 years in fact. This was partly due to having the free time but also because I was patient and wanted to learn."
How has Arnab's work evolved since the beginning of his career? Which has been his favourite encounter thus far? What advice would he give to aspiring photographers? We were thrilled to have him answer to all these questions on our blog.
First of all, how are you? How are you finding the lockdown?
I am very well thank you. Lockdown has been interesting in both positive and negative ways. Our plans have been postponed but we have had the opportunity to slow down and really appreciate what's important. Having said that, it will be good to get out on the streets and take portraits again.
What sparked your interest in photography?
My passion was sparked from my travels to South America back in 2012. While studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, I came across a street photography walking tour. The team who ran it were brilliant and I had so much fun that I booked a one on one course with them on how to use my camera. After that I was hooked.
Are you self-taught or how did you come about learning the practice?
I am mostly self taught but have been on a number of workshops over the years which have really helped to really bed down my knowledge especially when it came to flash photography. However, the best school is actually getting out and doing it and that's why I did the 100 Strangers project.
How has your work evolved since you first started? Over time and through doing the project I have been able to evolve at a natural pace building step by step on what I have learnt previously. At the start of the 100 Strangers project I was happy just to have approached a stranger and taken a portrait that wasn't rubbish, to now being able to think about the elements that make up a good portrait a lot more instinctively. I am much more aware of colour, light and composition and how they come together and then taking that initial shot and post processing to arrive at the final image. I also used to just concentrate on close up portraits but I am now enjoying bringing in the environment too.
Tell us about your favourite encounter from when you did the 100 Strangers project? I have had lots of amazing encounters and met so many wonderful characters throughout this project. One that stands out for me is Joe who was my 19th Stranger. While I was working out in Jersey one summer and I kept seeing this old guy every morning having a coffee and reading the paper. What drew me to him was that he was always suited and booted and I just had to ask him for a portrait. What I loved about this encounter was his zest for life especially given his age. I found this out when I bumped into him again 6 months later, this time in central London. He was hanging out with his family in the same pub as me and was as dapper as ever... in a white tuxedo and red bow tie. He had as much if not more energy that most of the other much younger people there and he was 80! What a legend.
What next? I am hoping to finish my second round of 100 Strangers very soon as I have just photographed my 194th stranger. I am currently doing a portrait project of my parents' generation and will be looking forward to doing a series of environmental portraits of local independent business owners.
What advice would you give to people aspiring to be photographers? My advice would be that getting out and shooting is the best teacher. Education is obviously important but your skills will only be mastered by putting yourself out there and not worrying too much about making mistakes. It is through those hours of hard work that you will become proficient in our art and also develop your own style. Personal projects go a long way to helping you achieve that as it gives you a focus as well as helping you to build a body of work.
Do you have someone creative in mind who you would like to be interviewed in our blog? Comment below or email: firstname.lastname@example.org