worship God, not photographers"
DIPANNITA GHOSH BISWAS
Times of India
did photography happen to you?
started to get fascinated with it at about the same time that
I started noticing girls. I was shy and photography helped me
overcome that, it allowed me a reason to speak to people I would
not have otherwise approached.
I started out with a Nikkormat Ftn 35mm camera as a young teenager,
and started reading photography books and fashion magazines. They
seemed to have the best photography in them. Also,
I got my parents cooperation to help me build a darkroom in the
basement of our house. Developing and printing black and white
photos the traditional way, is a big advantage that young photographers
in the digital age don’t often bother with. It teaches you
lighting and tonal values, which are key elements of your artist’s
palette, so to speak. Silver
gelatin fiber prints will probably become a lost art in a few
years, although I hope not.
few times that I met a real photographer, I’d pick their
brains as much as I could. And I’d take pictures, and make
lots of mistakes. Making mistakes, the pain it causes you as an
artist, not to mention the money you waste, especially as a young
kid, really tests you. Just as in life, I believe we learn more
from our mistakes than from our successes.
had a uncle, Robert Breon, who was a professional photographer,
but I only saw very rarely, who was based in Calcutta during W.W.II,
spoke fluent Hindustani, while working as an undercover US Navel
Intelligence operative. He had a great love of life and showed
me a few things in the darkroom one day when I was about 15.
was the first shot that you took, with what camera and at which
nationally and internationally in Newsweek Feb. 9 1976, a photo
of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, at the Liberty Bell in
Philadelphia, PA for the United States Bicentennial Celebration.
It was a Nikon camera with a Nikkor 35mm F1.4 lens, I was 18 years
young. . . Was this a trick question to figure out my age?
and celebrity photography
seem to be your forte, how do you make a difference here?
a dear editor of mine at British Vogue, Sheila Whetton once proclaimed,
“ We aren’t exactly curing cancer here, we’re
just trying to make some beautiful photos.” I wholeheartedly
agree with her.
Can we all say team work? I prefer to have a positive loving attitude
permeating the set and prefer to work with people who share that.
try to not take myself too seriously, although as an artist, one
does have ways of doing things, and I’m no different. What
one hopes for and what one gets are not always the same. If a
model or a celebrity, hasn’t worked with me before, the
immediate goal for me is to gain their trust, disarm them with
my humility, while still bossing them around a little, hey I’m
kind of kidding but not really. Ha!
you really need the subject to be a willing participant. and sometimes
they just aren’t in the mood. The good news is that this
has been rare, most of the time, everyone is, “hey let’s
make some nice pictures.“
fashion has a lot of selfish people drawn to it, it then follows
that there are also a lot of dysfunctional types. Some are fun
some are not. The “nots” are on there own ego trip,
so you try and build relationships with people you trust and enjoy
working with. As in the movie biz, you work with people you really
love on a select project or two and then schedules and job assignments
conspire to break apart the teams. If you can reconnect with old
friends later on that’s a plus, but often you just loose
touch; everyone is so busy climbing the career ladder.
women are your subjects mainly. Is it easy to capture their beauty
or hard to make your subject and your photography merge?
Why fashion and celebrity photography?
could be more fun? At age 16, I was told by the editor of Popular
Photography magazine that I had a talent for making girls look
beautiful. Since I happen to really like women, and enjoy photographing
them, that was all the encouragement I needed.
male and female, are interesting too, because some can portray
emotion and give some dramatic tension to the photo. A few are
very self conscious in still photos, but that just makes it a
challenge, which I enjoy, usually.
also have made an array into photojournalism. Which do you prefer
done some photojournalistic type work, but I don’t consider
myself a photojournalist. The top photojournalists are a rare
breed, going into serious often times dangerous situations, photographing
sorrow, hardship, death. I prefer to show a more beautiful side
of life. I hope that doesn’t sound shallow.
Have you learnt photography?
and life were my teacher.
were your idol photographers?
Avedon, Helmut Newton, Arthur Elgort were some whose work I’d
admired, and eventually I met all three. There are many more whom
I enjoy also. By the way, I don’t like the word idol, I
worship God, not photographers.
interesting that when you get up close you sense a charisma that
many of these men have, that you don’t get from seeing them
on television. Even those I previously didn’t like, once
I’d met them I noticed it was difficult not to be drawn
in by their personal magnetism.
started working for Vogue (U.K.) at a tender age. How was the
it was really a dream come true for me. It was my favorite magazine
before I worked for them and still is. The group of editors that
worked with me there were all wonderful. A real career highlight
were the first to use as a model the famous Cindy Crawford and
Linda Evangelista. What was the shoot for? You were all young,
so how did you go about with it? (Continued)
here to go to part two of the Calcutta
Times interview with photographer Steve Landis, where Steve reminisces
about Supermodels, and photojournalism, and looks at the future
of photography, and his relationship with Yeshua.