We kick off the first ‘In Conversation’ feature with the following interview with Saikat Samaddar, whose photo essay ‘A December Departure’ was recently published on Aksgar. The ‘In Conversation’ feature will attempt to know more about the motivations and thought processes of photographers featured on Aksgar as well as other photographers undertaking narrative photography projects.
Aksgar: What is the inspiration behind your photo essay?
Saikat Samaddar: The pathos of leaving a place called home had been the main driving force. This venture is an attempt to immortalize all those minor mundane as well as those exciting moments spent by my family in this place.
A: Did you have to convince your family members to be part of the essay? Were they supportive from the beginning? How did they react to you documenting their private moments and spaces?
SS: My family has always lent me their support in each and every step I took in my life. And this venture has not been an exception. I would like to thank them for putting up with all this madness during their time of great despair.
A: How long did it take you shoot the essay in total? Did you get a chance to show it to others for feedback?
SS: I have been planning this essay for about an year since we decided to demolish the structure. Later I did incorporate more of my photographs shot in my home years ago. Yes, I did show it to my family members and fellow friends, some of those who are into photography as amateurs and professional for their feedback.
A: Your photographs manage to highlight the deep connection with the house, even though it was in a state of great repair. What is it that connected you to the house? And how difficult was it to leave the house?
SS: I wont call it a house, rather I prefer to address it as my home. For this concrete dilapidated structure has been by my side in each and every moment of my life. The walls remains a testimony to each and every phase of my life. It has seen those days, when I as a child proclaimed my proficiency in english alphabets by scribbling them on to the newly painted wall, saw the first adult rated movie with high enthusiasm, exclaimed with joy after getting my admission in a medical school or cried in my bathroom following a failure in life. To be true, the bitter decision to demolish this structure came with ease for we knew that it was beyond repair. But this decision did cost my family a great price. We had to negotiate with our feelings, the craving for this place which has been an identity for us. At last we had to bury the pangs of departure deep into our heart to look for a better future.
A: You are a doctor who is also interested in photography. How do you find the time for photography? What keeps you motivated to shoot?
SS: Photography and painting is my passion; and when you are so passionate about something you definitely take time out from your daily schedule. I basically keep photographing my daily activities so there is no fixed daily slot for photography. At the end when I compile the photographs I find them to be a story of life, a documentation of time which is a precious possession for me, and this keeps me motivated for further work.
A: Are there any photographers whose work you particularly admire? And why?
SS: I have been highly influenced by the works of a renowned American photographer, Sally Mann. Her works have inspired me to document the story of life.
A: What are your next photographic projects? What kind of work do you want to do?
SS: Presently, I’m working on an essay involving my work place. The project is at its primary stage. Hope it turns out well. I want to focus on long term projects documenting all that is around me however mundane or exciting it might be.