Behind the Lens
Abraxas Lifestyle recently caught up with Shantanu Sheorey, founder of The One School Goa, before the launch of the Goa International Photo Festival. The following are excerpts from the interview…
How did the idea behind this photography exhibition come to you? And that too, to such an extent?
That’s basically because of the school – The One School Goa. That’s what prompted it. Since we started it, it was part of the agenda that we’ll have festivals and exhibitions and other things. We have known most of these photographers for years. We’ve been planning this for the last 3 or 4 years now and it was supposed to be In Mumbai or Pune. But since I set up my school 2 years ago, we all agreed that Goa is the best place and obviously we had to be where we are. We also saw that that’s a great opportunity because nothing was happening in this zone. There is one festival that happens in Delhi every two years. We attended that festival, where we found that we needed a festival which actually addressed the youth. All photography festivals around the world, not just in India, they make it look very serious and over-the -top. So we decided that we wanted to address that and bring in the youth.
So what is your connection with the World Press?
Well they’re coming in as an exhibit. They take their exhibition to various places in the world. I think we should be the 45th country right now. What we’re doing is a part of photography education and the World Press is a very important element. It’s telling stories. Some of their award-winning categories include the stories that are happening around the world – there are some good ones like sports and expeditions and some very nice stories. So it’s a great variety. In 140 images, they show you the best of the world’s pictures. It’s a huge thing and I think this is a very prestigious exhibition. It hasn’t been in India for the last 6 years.
What are you showcasing in your exhibition?
Apart from the World Press we have international photographers, American, British etc., along with different styles and varieties and a lot of work by our students on Goa.
They are showcasing about Goa. What are you focussed on personally?
Me? I am showing one of my works that I’ve not shown in 30 years; for the first time I’m going to be showing it here. It’s called Rath Yatra Jagannath Puri. And I’ve never shown it. But I’ve done it for five years in a row, from 1980 to 1985. It was lying with me so I thought this was a good opportunity because a lot of people know about it and a lot of people have been asking me “When are you going to show it?” And I put in a teaser a year ago saying that I’m going to do an exclusive hand-printed book. So they all started saying “Listen, book a copy”. So I thought, “Okay there is demand for it”. So yeah that’s what I‘m showing.
You’re launching a book as well…
No, I will not be launching a book; that will be purely a collection. It is a digital magazine provides a link between photography and people. It will also carry all the wonderful work and stages of what is shown in the festival plus interviews and other things. Our students have shot some great stories in Goa on a continual basis, otherwise they travel and they do their own bits. Somebody did a great rail journey the other day and called it “The Everlasting Ticket”. He shot only from the train window. Beautiful images. He travelled from Delhi to Goa and he had a good 22 to 30 hour long journey. All these things need to be shown to the world so, the magazine is called The One Mag. It is going to be a platform to showcase interesting photography, more like an art form, rather than technical stuff.
Apart from the exhibition, how did you venture out as a photographer and what would you say about your revolution since you started?
Well that’s old stuff (laughs), I mean people know about it. I was in JJ school of Art and from there I went into photography. We were all doing commercial art, so that takes you into photography in any case. At my time I was lucky, I got a break at the right time, right place and all that, so that’s how it happened and that’s it. The entry barriers are much greater now because there’s a lot more competition. There are too many people. I was lucky at my time, they were looking for new young talent and I happened to be there. I got my first campaign in one shot and it was appreciated and went off well.
What is your advice for young photographers? A lot of them don’t see any future in it.
See it depends on what future they’re looking for. They have to balance their passion to keep shooting stories with some commercial work. Now commercial work could mean anything, from wedding photography to other types, which I think is fantastic. I think we’re just calling wedding photography “Woh shaadi ke picture”. That’s not how it is. Today weddings are a big industry in India. Look at how much money they spend, and now they allot a good budget for photography, videos and the like. That’s a great area to earn your money. You do maybe three or four weddings in a year and you’re through.
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