Ashish Patel is a Delhi based street and documentary photography who only started photographing about a year and a half ago. His main focus is to show the candidness of a scene and make it look extraordinary. Learning mostly from his mentors he gets his inspiration from the Indian people going about their everyday lives.
Tell us a bit more about yourself. When did you become interested in photography?
I was born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. I live in New Delhi, India. Photography has always been a part of my journey. Although its meaning kept changing in my life. During school, it was the capturing memories phase. I used to click pictures of my friends and also self-portraits to keep with me as a memory. Things changed when I moved to Delhi from Kanpur for my engineering studies. It was the event capturing phase. During a college event, I borrowed a camera from a friend and covered it through the lens. It was the first time I clicked something with a DSLR, and to my surprise, the results were quite good (I had clicked those pictures on auto-mode). I didn't know anything about how a camera works. So I entered the learning phase, I went searching on YouTube on how the manual mode works and what the settings are. I spent hours practising and improving my skills. I kept clicking basic photographs of sunsets and flowers, everything that I came across, and through that process, I’ve learned a few things on how a camera functions.
Do you have a favourite quote/lyric/saying that especially resonates with you?
I like this quote from Diane Arbus - “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them." Street photographs are real and unplanned moments, and they should feel real and unplanned.
Where do you find your inspiration? And do you have a favourite place to shoot?
I think I learn from people every day. I learn from my mentors and I get inspiration from so many people. To me one of the basic characteristics of street photography is candidness. I feel that as a street photographer it is my duty to show the candid street.
In general, what do you want to express through your photography? And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photography?
Photography has taught me many things and the most important one is patience. I have been an impatient person my whole life but now, I can wait for a perfect shot for hours. I can stand at a position for several minutes to capture that perfect moment. It feels like a responsibility and I like that.
Being a street photographer, I find my own voice in my photos. In street photography I look out for some unusual things and then create some illusion. In street photography what you hide is equally important as what you reveal.
Do you have any favourite artists/photographers? Who do you think has mostly influenced your style?
Mr. Raghu Rai
Mr. Vineet Vohra
I’m totally self-taught, but I am influenced by Vineet Vohra.
Are there any books that you have read that have inspired your creativity and that you would like to recommend to us?
I read most of the things I know on the internet, looked at other people´s pictures, learned (the basics) from them but there are a lot of books that have inspired me.
1. Going Candid… An unorthodox approach to Street Photography (free on ISSUU). 2. 10 Essential Street Photography Lessons by Marius Vieth (not a book, web reading).
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?
Absolutely yes, being a street photographer, I feel that your presence of mind matters more than the camera equipment.
I use a Nikon D5600 and prefer to shoot 18-55mm
When you go out on the streets, do you 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?
There is no concept in my mind as to what I want to shoot when I go out on the streets. I just keep in my mind that I have to keep my photos candid and raw.
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
Photographs are the universal language of our era. Everyone has hundreds, maybe thousands in their pocket. Weightless, they turn the scale when the argument is: What happened here? Images don’t age or warp. A great photographer’s strings never go out of tune but as a participant in the formal artistic world of museums and galleries? No, only as a visitor.
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
I want to work as a photographer for Magnum Photos after 5 years.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
...listen to music, travel, hang out with friends."
All photos © Ashish Patel
Interview by Melanie Meggs