Ronak Sawant is an Indian artist, dancer, poet, writer, street photographer and humanitarian. He is the life explorer, urban monk and a free bird that uses his art, wisdom and life’s journey to inspire people and make a change in the world.

August 07, 2016

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN INDIA - RONAK SAWANT | My Perspective...

Cover Photo: Street Photography in India - Ronak Sawant

“Street Photography is not about taking photos on the street;
it’s about capturing the soul of the street.”
Ronak Sawant

I am Ronak Sawant, and I love doing Street Photography the most above all the photography styles. I believe that Street Photography is not just an art, but it’s a way of life. After spending almost 1 and half years capturing photographs on the street (well that’s my journey so far as a Photographer), I think it’s my responsibility as a Street Photographer that this Street Photography art goes out to people in a right way. I mean the people should know what exactly Street Photography is all about and how to represent this beautiful art. It’s like if one person can’t take that one necessary step to bring that change; to educate or to showcase the real art then the scene will remain the same as it is. As I truly believe that one person can make a difference, so this is why I am writing the blog sharing my experiences, moments and perspective on Street Photography in India.

In India, people are not very much aware as in they don’t know that Street Photography is an art and it’s a type of photography style that exists. Even today, if you carry a DSLR camera, go outside and capture photographs on the street, 99% of people will consider you a ‘पत्रकार’ (a Reporter or a Cameraman). The incident which has happened to me many times and it still happens!

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.

Only a few people in India know about Street Photography, just very few. Here in India, people only know three types of Photography very well, and that’s Fashion, Wedding and Wildlife Photography. But when asked about Street Photography, it’s a great doubt! According to mentality here, Street Photography is just about capturing the beggars on the street. You know, it feels sad when the Photographers themselves give an incorrect knowledge or information about the art which they are practising. So how can you expect the same from non-photography people? It’s not possible right!

What is Street Photography?


Cover Photo: Street Photography Quote - Ronak Sawant

According to me, Street Photography is about capturing the moments and collecting the soul of the street. This type of photography is very different from all the other styles. Here you don’t have any model from magazine cover to pose for you. You don’t have any lighting set-up, the only light you have is nature. You don’t have a studio set-up, no make-up, nothing. You have to make use of whatever present on the street. That's what makes street photography different as well as exciting. You don’t know what will happen, what moments you will witness. It is unpredictable just as life. It’s all about you being present in the moment with your camera, vision and wander in search of the perfect street shot. Be it a tea stall, vegetable market, a man walking, a girl reading, etc. any place or any situation. Everything is just real here, not like a studio. Everything is natural, not planned or posed shots. Here the entire street is your photography studio, and you become its part to capture it all.

My Experiences:


While doing Street Photography, there are people who count me in as a Tourist who according to them is probably seeing the city for the first time. That's a good sign essentially! If you make them feel this, then you are doing a good job. And then there are those who consider me as a Cameraman, the mentality I tell you!

There’s also one incident that I had with the Police Officers in Mumbai. I was exploring the streets of my hometown Bandra in April 2014, having hands-on my friend’s Nikon SLR Camera. This is when a Police saw me with a Camera and called me. For a moment I got scared as I thought, “Why he’s calling, Will he take off my camera or what?” You know, my Mom and Dad always told me to be safe while doing whatever I am doing with a camera outside. They also advised me saying to stay away from Police and don’t hand a camera to them if a situation comes. Remembering these kind words of my parents, I walked confidently toward the Police. He asked directly “What are you doing with a Camera in this alley (street)? I just said, "I am capturing Photographs". (It was a silent street by the way). He then called another Police Officer who was standing some distance away from us and told him all the matter. The second Police Officer asked me to show my camera right away. This time I got very much aware and I showed him all the photographs that I had captured, holding a camera in my hand. And just for the sake, I even told him "if you feel that I am doing something wrong then I will delete all the pictures if you want". Just when I whispered any other word, he was amazed at my Photography. He just said “खूप छान फोटोस आहेत हे, पण आता इथे विधानसभा इलेकशन्सची तयारी सुरू आहे, म्हणून हे असं चालत नाही”. This is when I realized that its election preparations going on (though the elections were 3 weeks away) and the Police Officers are just doing their duty that’s all. Then they both said with care to switch off my camera and walk away from the alley as quickly as possible and do Photography somewhere else, not here. I said Thank You in return and left. This was certainly a good experience! A big up to Mumbai Police by the way! This is when I learned that “अगर अच्छा करोगेतोह अच्छा पाओगे” in English “If you will do good, then the good will happen to you”.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.

My Moments:


I remember every photograph that I capture, and it’s behind the picture story too. Here is the image that I captured near Khar Telephone Exchange a few months back while I was doing a Photo Walk there.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.

These two gentlemen’s in this picture were in their world, and so was I with my camera. As you can see, the Person 2 was giving a leg massage at a bus stop to Person 1. I observed this and captured it right away. You can see the expressions of Person 1 doing a gesture “Who is he? Why he is taking a photo?” to all the other people waiting for a bus. When this kind of moment arises while shooting, I hate it because I had to explain to them what I am doing and what Street Photography is! I have done this many times, by the way, wasted my Photo Walk time and did an explanation. This is important sometimes because there are people who are not at all photo-friendly.

Here is another image I captured back in 2015 while I was exploring the streets of Dadar. I viewed this beautiful old woman, sitting by a roadside and I don’t know why but I wanted to capture her. So just when I focussed my lens towards her, she just did this 'Namaste' pose! It is one awesome moment!

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.

Here are some of my favourite Street Photographs that I captured exploring the streets of India:


Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Delhi, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Delhi, India.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Goa, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Goa, India.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Amritsar, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Amritsar, India.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Vaibhavwadi, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Vaibhavwadi, India.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Nagpur, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Nagpur, India.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Ooty, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Ooty, India.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.

Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.
Street Photography by Ronak Sawant - Mumbai, India.

"If you haven’t captured any photograph on the street,
then you surely don’t know what real photography is all about."
- Ronak Sawant

13 comments:

  1. Hi Ronak. This is Salma. Hardly say I have zero knowledge about photography. When I read your blog I feel interesting. I want to know more about it. If you have a time for me please tell me more about it. I hope you will response soon for this. I am waiting….

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Salma, thanks for reading and it's good to know that you find this blog interesting. I really appreciate! Yes, I am always up to share my knowledge with those who want to learn and in return I try to learn something. So say what you want to know about photography...?

    I will try my best to reply as early as possible! :)

    Best regards,
    Ronak Sawant.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Ronak. This is Salma. Why are you interesting on street photography? What makes you choose that? May be this question makes you feel like ridiculous. I already said that I have zero knowledge about photography. So these question strikes me. And tell me more about street photography. I hope you will response. And I knew that you like to write. Best writers are those who give their perspective to their readers. I am waiting to see the things with your perspective. So give me perspective about photography. I am waiting….

    ReplyDelete
  5. I found street photography fascinating because it allows me to be the real person I am and it basically represents my style and who I am as a person. As you may or may not know, I am a Dancer first then a Photographer. In dancing also the style I love to do is STREET (Hip Hop Style), so maybe because of this I chose Street Photography over other such photography styles.

    And, Not only I like but I love to write my life's journey since the day I started this blog! And, this is just the beginning I think!

    If you want to know more about Street Photography, then I reckon to read this blog again and again marking each and every word until you get it.

    I hope you understand what I am saying!
    Thank you! :)

    Best regards,
    Ronak Sawant.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi , I am also a photographer & active for last couple of years say -- 30 yrs , but never seen such a touchy snaps , i really appreciate your hardship , Keep it up

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much kkhandekar! It means a lot! Comments like this keep me motivated! :)

      Delete
  7. Hi Ronak,
    Love your beautiful art of photographing strangers.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It is a way of relieving myself from the accumulated work stress over the week, and just have plain fun while I was shooting on the streets. https://portugalurlaub.tumblr.com/post/156628963198/porto-street-photography

    ReplyDelete

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"Explore life before expire."

– Ronak Sawant