“There is nothing quite as seductive as the unknown?”
When Vir Das wrote this while welcoming 2015 on New Year’s Eve, exactly one year later, with the onset of 2016, we are now showcasing the visual world of an explorer.
Sushanto Sarkar, a 19 year old Mumbaikar, is a 1st year student of Applied Arts at Sir JJ Institute of Applied Arts, Mumbai. With the eye of an artist, Sushanto explores the different facets of landscape photography, subjective photography, model shoots and long exposure. Recently, he has started exploring the abandoned places in Mumbai as part of Urbex Photography (Urban Exploration Photography), which Google defines as ‘the art of finding old and abandoned buildings and locations, exploring them, and taking photos’. It’s exciting, potentially dangerous, legally ambiguous, and a lot of fun.
Sushanto claims that it was his elder brother’s work which inspired him to take pictures. He used to see his brother’s work and then try doing the same with a normal cellphone camera. He used to refer to different photographers and their beautiful photos, and then found Instagram, where he followed different artists and photographers and got more inspired. Whenever he had any queries about any photograph, he would consult his brother. Eventually, he started meeting different people via Instagram and made many friends, attending photowalks in different areas of Mumbai. He learned editing and the way of playing with tones and colours, and that’s how his love for photography reached its zenith.
A close observation into Sushanto’s works shows the recurrence of a faceless man in abandoned places. The idea behind clicking such pictures, according to Sushanto, is ‘to show a person with no soul.’ This trend of clicking such images was started by one of his Instagram friends Akash Negi, and these images suited the different Urbex locations as well.
Sushanto tries to create a fusion of his art knowledge with photography, and for this purpose, he uses different props to make his pictures look more attractive. He says that photography, to him is not just about exploring or shooting in marriages or model shoots; it is a hidden art, which he wishes to showcase to the people. For instance, he uses smoke bombs to create well balanced colours in the background of his images. He makes use of different props according to the light and location. Talking about the importance of nature in photography, he claims: “Nature is what I believe in.”
On asking him the purpose of taking pictures, Sushanto says: “It is to capture the beautiful moments or something like never seen before; showcasing your own creativity and creative thoughts in a picture, making the viewers feel and visualize. Each photograph has its story and some creativity. In today’s world everyone has got smartphones with good cameras. But the best is when you use that camera in a right way. All my old photographs are shot on cellphone. It’s not important what camera you use but how you make the best from it.”
Sushanto claims that his parents always supported him in whatever he did, leading him to take up Fine Arts as a course in college. His elder brother was also in the same field, which he is presently pursuing, and thus, he received support from all sides, which allowed him to delve into the world of art as well as music. Sushanto also plays tabla and guitar, and wishes to fuse both art and music, and work with different artists. “It’s fun when your hobbies turn into your profession”, he remarks.
On enquiring about his experiences while shooting different abandoned places as part of Urbex Photography, Sushanto says: “The different experience is when you enter restricted areas. Recently I had been to Oshiwara railway station which is under construction and is observed by policemen. It was a tough job to shoot pictures there that too at night when there were no lights. I love such places with their rusty and dramatic structures. Such places are sometimes dangerous and seem scary, but are really cool and adventurous. Depending on the guts, only few people have photos of such locations.”
On the relevance of art in his life and the challenges as an artist, Sushanto remarks, “Art plays a vital role in my life. Each and everything and also my studies are related to art. In today’s world there are a lot of upcoming artists with less platforms. As an artist I face a lot many challenges in college as well as outside. All matters is how smart and creative you can be and what quality you give through your work. And what my brother said to me: ‘Be a competitor, but not in the competition.’ “
One advice that Sushanto gives to all the emerging photographers is: “Be genuine and do your best in whatever you do”, and on this positive note, he signs off.
To get a glimpse of Sushanto’s dreamy world, check out his Instagram profile:
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