THE “ SARDAAR OF PHOTOGRAPHY”

Known fondly as the Sardaar of Photography by his peers and students alike, Himadri Bhuyan likes to say that photography is his life.  He has dedicated the past 23 years to the art of clicking pictures and surely enough, today he is has come quite close to perfecting this art. With and expertise in the NE regeion, he conducts workshops all across the Northeast along with tours to regional and tribal festivals. His work has also been published both in the print and digital versions of the prestigious National Geographic Magazine.

1. How did you first develop your interest towards photography? What is the one thing about photography that intrigues you the most?

 I had an exposure to photography at a young age as I was the one who was handed the camera to capture group shots, back in 90’s, whenever there used to be a function at home. Serious interest arose when I came across one of the first editions of Better Photography in 1998, and I gifted myself a film SLR camera with the pocket money I saved for a big occasion. What intrigues me most about photography is the ability to capture a moment that is never going to happen again, and also the ability to express myself through my images.

2. Is there anyone particular you take inspiration from?

 Internationally there are quire a few inspirations like Ansel Adams, Michael Kenna, Marc Adamus, Daniel Greenwood, Lee Jeffries, Enrico Fossati, etc. Among the national ones are some seniors like Subhadip Choudhury, Rajesh Jyothiswaran, Late Nabarun Bhattacharya, Sandeep Mathur and Jassi Oberai. And among the younger lot are SayanChakravarty, Atanu Bandyopadhyay, Prakash Kumar Singh, Som Roy, etc.

3. Earlier, one had to make a portfolio and go from studio to studio to get one’s work recognized; nowadays it’s all on social media. What would you say are the pros and cons of this?

 The pros of being able to showcase your work in social media is that you can target the specific audience you want your work to be seen by. You can do it by sitting at the comfort of your home. The con of it is that with the advent of digital era, almost everyone has the ability to get hold of a camera and create images and share them on social media. Here the differentiating factor becomes you work that will speak for itself, for which you have to stand apart or be one of the best in what you do.

4. Before taking a particular picture, what are the things you like to keep in mind?

 For me the camera settings have become like muscle memory. Just like you don’t thinkwhile driving a vehicle, you should be able to use the camera with that ease. That willthen give you the much needed time (particularly during crucial situations) to concentrate on the image at hand like composition, perspective, storytelling aspect etc.

On field I like to take a note of how the light is behaving in coordination with the weather, if there are distracting elements, how much time the shot will take, etc.

5. You have been called the “Saardar of Photography”. Why is that and when did it start?

 I have been leading excursions for college students and also heading my own photo tours. During such excursions and tours, I am seen as a strict task master. On one such tour back in 2016, someone started calling me Gabbar Singh, because of my looks and the strict rules I’d like my students / participants to follow. The word spread and the expression “Gabbar” transformed into “Sardaar” during one of my Photography Boot Camps in 2018. Because it came into existence because of photography, people sometimes address me as “Sardaar of Photography”, mostly because of their love and respect for me and my work.

6. You have interacted with many western photographers, would you say there are differences between how western photographers and how Indian photographers approach towards photography and various other techniques involved with it?

 The reply to this question cannot be given in a few sentences as the subject and the context is pretty vast. But one primary point of difference between western photographers and Indian Photographers is the way photographers are looked upon. In most of the scenic locations outside India, people wouldn’t bother you if you are traveling solo, and within protected areas taking photographs. You can’t imagine that here in India, without factoring in your safety, the safety of your gear, the help of a guide, etc. Another important differentiating factor that puts the Nature Photographers outside India is the accessibility or duration one has to spend to reach a scenic location. For e.g. it will take a minimum of two days for someone from Guwahati to reach Ladakh. Similarly it will take three days for someone from Delhi to reach Tawang. And these are just two examples, while there are numerous. The difference also has to do with the ease of access to different learning resources (and by that I don’t mean YouTube). As I have mentioned previously, it is a huge topic in itself and worthy of an essay or a live panel discussion.

7. When one sees your work, it can be noticed that versatility is one of your main traits and you ace the game in all the genres, would you say this gives you an upper hand over other photographers?

a. Thanks for mentioning that I ace in all genres, but I know that there’s still a lot to learn in each field. And then, there are still certain genres that I’m yet to try my hand at, like fashion, underwater, architecture, food, forensic, etc. When it comes to being a professional in photography, it is always advisable to have an interest in one or two genres, rather than working in multiple genres. That will give your clients the much needed confidence on you and your work. But I am mostly an educator. I teach for Nikon School, in a few regional institutes and I have my own classes and workshops too, including photo tours where most of the participants want my guidance. In order to do so, it is important for me to have a grasp on multiple genres rather than being proficient in one. That is what gives me an upper hand and it is completely intentional.

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