July 26, 2021
SEEING THE LIGHT
Photography by Prithi Dey
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Prithi Dey is a Londoner living in Sydney. Arriving in Sydney in 2002 on a 'round the world' trip, Prithi never left. Although her heart remains in London, Sydney has become her home. Always having a love for photography, taking a particular interest in architecture and intriguing street scenes, Prithi decided to take her photography to the next level by investing in her first DSLR and enrolled herself in a beginners course at the Australian Centre for Photography. It was during this time that she realised how much photography helped her with mindfulness. When out on assignments, she thought of nothing except getting the shot, finding good light, a nice composition, a good subject. This is when she realised how much she loved street photography. Through her images, Prithi hopes to reach more like-minded lovers of street photography and light.
“When I go out, all I know is that I want to find some nice pockets of light, good shapes, and hopefully interesting people to wander into them.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH PRITHI DEY
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Prithi, please tell us what your perfect street scene is. Where do you find your inspiration?
PRITHI DEY: My perfect street scene would be a minimal space with clean lines, nice building shapes, good light, and nice shadows. Not crowded, but a few interesting people passing through. I find inspiration from other photographers on Instagram and YouTube; I love understanding their process and what they look for.
TPL: What were the difficulties you encountered first starting street photography?
PD: Learning how to use manual settings! And then know what to use when. I also struggled with finding a scene and knowing what lens to use etc. When you’re in a city with so much going on it’s hard to find focus, you want to catch everything. I now go out with just one lens, with a location and scene in mind, and then go with the flow. I always walk with shots I love, none of which I planned before starting the day.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
PD: So many! My top three would have to be Mark Fearnley, I love his minimal, moody shots, especially his scenes from London. Also, Nico Froehlich, I love his portrayal of simple life things in England, like doing the dishes and hanging washing. It’s such a brave and interesting pivot to his earlier work. And Simon Aslund for the moody filmic tones which are amazing, I’d love to be able to take photos like that.
TPL: What are your thoughts and feelings about shooting individually or shooting with a friend/s when out on the streets?
PD: I love shooting on my own; walking the streets, taking my time, listening to music - it’s really therapeutic.
Recently I’ve met with a couple of photographers while out, and although we might not shoot together, it’s so great to connect when you share common interests, and share tips and stories!
TPL: What has been the most challenging part about being a photographer for you during the pandemic?
PD: Obviously not being able to go out when you’re in lockdown is frustrating, but otherwise honestly I haven’t found it challenging. My style of photography means I’m keeping distant and generally out on my own anyway.
TPL: When you take pictures, do you usually have a concept in mind of what you want to shoot, or do you let the images just "come to you", or is it both? Describe your process.
PD: When I go out, all I know is that I want to find some nice pockets of light, good shapes, and hopefully interesting people to wander into them. My process is really fluid, I’ll walk till I find the right light, I take a couple of test shots to check my settings, and then I’ll wait for the subject or subjects. I might stay in one spot for 10 minutes till I have something I like. So I guess it's a combination of having something in mind, and then letting the images just come to me.
I now go out with just one lens, with a location and scene in mind, and then go with the flow.
TPL: Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
PD: Equipment really helps. I started with a basic Canon DSLR and recently upgraded to a mirrorless full frame. I’m now using an EOS R and it's so sharp and fast. I also like shooting with a prime lens and usually go out with either an 85mm or 50mm, but never both because I just get confused over which to use! The prime lens is good as it makes you work hard to get the shot, and also sometimes pushes you to get closer than you normally would.
TPL: What are some of your goals as an artist or photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
PD: I just love capturing scenes and people. I would love to work less and shoot more. If I ever had the chance to do it full time, take on workshops and help people with their photography dreams, it would be amazing.