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Rajesh Singh

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A multiple award-winning street and documentary photographer from India, Rajesh Kumar Singh is one of the notable faces in the Indian Photography Community. Born and brought up in Bokaro Steel City, a small town in the state of Jharkhand (India), his works have been published and revered all across the globe with various notable agencies. Rajesh shares his humble beginnings and more about his grand achievements, in an interview with Basics. 

  • How did you start photography? Tell us about your beginnings.

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After completion of my early education, I took my Post Graduation admission in  Banaras Hindu University in Fine Arts. In the first year in my Post Graduation, there were five subjects but in the very next year, I chose applied arts where I learned about Photography, though photography was an optional subject in the second year, and thus my basic learning of imagery begun... The very first day when I entered the darkroom the negative exposure prints attracted me a lot. Since then, my heart began to rush for photography. At that time I didn't have any camera, I used to borrow them from my seniors or friends, and thus my primitive yet beautiful journey as a Freelancer Photographer began.

  • You have been shooting in and around Varanasi for a while now. What attracts you to this place?

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Varanasi is this place that is as pure as aged wine. When I shifted to Varanasi from my hometown, I felt weird how death is celebrated over here, I couldn't believe that people used to celebrate death is as similar to other Festivals in India. From the ghats of Manikarnika to Dashashvamedh, from my campus to Assi Ghat, from Lanka's hustle-bustle to the silence of the Ganges, from students to locals I've had various of things to work as my own plot. Every each place has its own story and aura because nothing is familiar altogether. Each place keeps changing with emotion. The emotion even varies in the Ghats, as you can see, the Assi Ghat has its charm from Ganga Aarti to people coming and going their happiness is different as they are celebrating life and there goes Manikarnika where death can be seen celebrated and per ancient ritual a Soul gets into Nirvana if they are cremated here; and if you ask again what Varanasi to me is, I'd say it is as attractive as a magnet because once you visit here everything will be refreshed in your mind and soul for the rest of your life.

  • Please tell us about your association with the Oscar-nominated film 'The Last Color'.

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While doing my project on Varanasi which I started a few years back, one of my friends introduced me to Mr. Vikas Khanna. Mr. Khanna was there at that time with his first movie project and he was looking for an artist who can replicate his creation through digital photography. We met and I think that he might have an interlinking connection with his movie storyboard and my photographic thought. That mental connection brought me into his film, I was delighted! In the course of the movie as proceeding, I indulged myself as the story itself has the soul which I carry in my photography.

  • What are the major recognitions and awards that you have received in the field of photography?

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AWARDS/ HONOURS
2020    GPU HM, MRICIAL IMAGE, 6Th International Salon 2020 Digital, Photography Pathshala
Wellcome Photo Prize, London, U.K
LensCulture Finalist, Single Visual Storytelling Image NY
4th International Photography Award, 100 Great Photographer Award, Moscow, Russia
Urban Photographer of the Year
3rd International Photography Award, 100 Great Photographer Award, Moscow, Russia
 IWIF AWARD for Second Best Photographer of India, KOCHI, KERALA (Limka Book of Record).
         


SELECTED EXHIBITIONS
Human Rights, Social Justice & Environment Art Exhibition, Oregon, USA
State community college Oregon
“BODY: Archive of Memory” Alliance Francaise de Delhi- Gurgaon
KOREAN PASSION MEETS INDIA, Korea- India Contemporary Art Exchange      Exhibition, Korean Culture Center, New Delhi, INDIA
56th National Exhibition of Art, Govt. of India, Ministry of Culture.
9th Annual Human Rights Art Exhibition, Ottawa University, CANADA, and South Texas, College, United State of America
8th Biennale of Photography The Passion of Photography – Focus On Afficionados Poznan, POLAND.
Photograph selected in the Top 500 category, Net Geo Moment Awards.


SOLO SHOW:
“Brick Kilns Workers” Centro di Ricerca e Archivazione Della Fotografia, Museum, Italy
Pani An Exhibition of Photography, Qeretica Art Gallery, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, INDIA.

 

WORKSHOP/ RESIDENCY:
Barbil Art Residency, Utsha Foundation Bhubneshwer, Orrisa
International Art Residency Camp, Centre for Research on Art & Culture, CRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Why not place Cannought place, International Summer Art Residency Program, Religare Art Gallery, New Delhi, INDIA.

  • Do you think it is tough for Indian photographers and artists to gain recognition on the international platforms?

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It's all about hard work. To start with a proper disciplined way, for example, if you have a thousand bricks you cannot scatter them and make a house but you have to build and plan how it'll shelter you. It is always difficult at some point, as a learner even it took a lot of struggle to get me this cuisine on my plate. I'm the photographer of that time where to get your picture featured you didn't have any social media platform. Today a small shoutout is easy. I had to focus on the various things so that my work should not go in waste. As an artist, you can say it's tough but determination matter.

  • What is your story behind your image "The Kill" for which you got your name in the Limca Book of Records?

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The Organization was named as Indian Weaved in Frames, where we had to portray Woven India. It made a record because many people bought their talent to a single platform. It was a photography exhibition of 15 members based in Kerala. The Eminent Judges had selected 87 images from 3 states each. The competition was so huge that it got it to place a new record in the Limca Book of Records.
And including me, three people were nominated as winners I was the second among them.

  • What are the movies/cinema that you have worked in?

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Though I started a little late with still photography but sooner I expanded my interest in cinematography as well. Movies that I've worked in:
1. Feast of Varanasi, (Indo-British Film) by Rajan Patel.
2. Aadha Chaand Tum Rakh Lo (International) by Mayank Bokolia.
3. The Last Color (International) by Vikas Khanna.

  • What all is there in your camera bag usually?

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I use Havana Camera bag for better safety, Nikon D 810 with 24-120 and 85 Prime lens 

one tripod and one flash along with a cleaning kit, my Laptop, a Hard Drive, and my thoughts.

  • What are your views on the importance of social media for a photographer?

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I'm overwhelmed seeing how social media is giving a huge platform to all the beginners and amateur photographers. In our time we had to look up everywhere as an opportunity, but right now the opportunity is in your phone itself. Social media now gives you not only recognition but also good shoutouts to those who deserve it.

  • What advice would you give to the newcomers and beginners in the field of photography?

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I'm no one to give advice, I'm always a learner from like others. But as a friend, I always suggest everyone should be focused and keep his/her vision clear enough to chose his/her dos and don'ts. I've seen people running to the trendy things but sooner the trend turns older and lets you down. Therefore it is good to stay determined on what step he/she takes because this generation has no time to waste for and with.

You can connect to Rajesh and search for his works on the above mentioned portals, or you can directly connect with him through his Instagram @rajesh4film.