Candid aims, Splendid frames

For someone whose initiation into the world of professional photography happened on the sets of Satyajit Ray’s Ghare Bhaire (Home and the world), being equally at home with several worlds was a foregone conclusion, finds Sudhir Raikar.

Mar 21, 2013 11:03 IST India Infoline News Service

Satyaki’s self-schooled tryst with photography probably began at age 19 with a Nikormat, a gift from his father, the legendary photographer Nemai Ghosh, known to the world as Ray’s Boswell with a camera.  Thanks to this grand lineage, Satyaki grew up on a wholesome diet of black & white photography and meaningful cinema. Not surprisingly, the cherished pastime after college hours became his passion and profession in due course. His tenure as a lab assistant under the veteran Jyotish Chakarvarty taught him processing and printing intricacies and set the ball rolling. And then came the lifetime opportunity of working with Satyajit Ray as an assistant still photographer on the sets of Ghare Bhaire. Satyaki recalls his only regret of the mesmerising experience “Once, I found Ray humming intuitively, in the course of composing a musical piece on the piano. As always, he was completely oblivious of his surroundings and I was the only mute witness of the priceless moment. Wish I could record his voice then and there.”

His dream debut on Ray’s sets proved to be the perfect pedestal, a distinction he earned on sheer merit, precisely why it kept him in good stead. Ever since, Satyaki Ghosh is thriving in the common areas of numerous intersecting circles with uncommon flair. He has a soft corner for black & white, a passion he inherits from his illustrious father. Yet, he relishes the world of colour in equal measure. He’s equally adept with the digital operations of the contemporary era like he was at home with the photochemical methods of the old school. Despite his emotional connect with his native Kolkata where he carved a niche and enjoyed an enviable professional reputation, he shifted base to Mumbai in search of greener pastures, at an age when people passively begin contemplating the tranquillity of a retired life.

His work, like Ray’s prodigiously diverse films, knows no bounds of genre and theme. Even a cursory glance at his work ( will tell you more. The decisive moment of candid photography may be a tad closer to his heart, but his illimitable range spans across verticals:  whether Fashion, Lifestyle, Advertising, Reportage, Documentary shoots or Press photography. From the Dabbawalas of Mumbai to the anterior realities of backstage, from the aesthetics of sensual art to the rustic appeal of tribal life… his camera captures every reality.  And his peerless portraits of legendary masters and celebrities have raised the bar for the paparazzi community. Satyajit Ray, Ravi Shankar, Kishore Kumar, Sourav Ganguly, Salman Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Aishwarya Rai and Sonakshi Sinha …he makes every face convey the precise emotion of the pivotal moment, not the staple expression earmarked for public adulation. 

Splendid frames

Photo Courtesy:

What helps him abound so effortlessly on different paths?  “It’s all about your ability and agility to observe, perceive and experiment. The boundaries of specialization are invariably defined at a broad level. Given the right attitude, you can make the best of many worlds. That’s when you surpass, not trespass” he contends.

Above all, Satyaki has achieved a rare blend of art and commerce – a feat uncommon in his tribe. For one, he’s exploded the preconceived notions about marketable photography with his singular approach to work. “Making deliveries under pressing circumstances is as much an art as it’s a science.” Working round the clock on assigned works and commercial engagements, he’s never short of time for stepping out of his car to click a candid snap purely for personal fulfilment. The heartfelt appreciation from the likes of Henri Cartier Bresson and Raghu Rai bears testimony to Satyaki’ s devotion to his art from. His work has won accolades and awards from the world over including PX3 Prix de la Photographie, Paris, Grand Prix Winners campaign at Spikes Asia 12 and the International Photography Awards 2009.

Despite being a self-taught artist himself, he doesn’t rule out the worth of formal training. “More than anything else, it helps you comprehend key technicalities including camera angles and appropriate lighting. This orientation spells your edge in an environment replete with on the job learning as a direct consequence of the humungous freelancing opportunities.” He remarks as he gets back to work in his spacious Lower Parel office facing a bustling Mumbai bylane. The life on the street below is oblivious of the fact that countless moments are turning momentous in such close proximity.

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