Situated on the banks of river Ganga, the ancient city of Varanasi is a photographer’s paradise. From the old rustic ghats to the narrow lanes, Varanasi, the erstwhile Kashi, gives lensmen picturesque compositions. The New York-based photographer Joey Lawrence, who walked down the holy city’s roads capturing the sights, is one among the many renowned photographers to have found their muse in the city, making it a mecca for photographers. Owing to that same spirit of the city, freelance photographer Abhishek Kumar Singh—born and raised in the holy city—aptly refers to it as ‘the magical city’.
An engineer by qualification and a businessman by profession, Singh’s photographs are an immediate interpretation of Varanasi’s day-to-day life. “If you are walking down the streets, you will get different lights and frames at different times. From morning to evening, you will see hues of orange, blue, green, all emerging and replacing the other in one place. These streets will never disappoint you,” shares the 29-year-old who ventures out with his camera only on the weekends.
For the self-taught photographer, who honed his skills through YouTube tutorials, a frame is incomplete without a living element. “If I get a composition with the sunlight dropping, I will wait for someone to cross by in that frame for me to click. At times, you get it with people randomly passing by in the frame, and at other times, I request people to do it for me. That way, I feel connected with the picture I have taken,” smiles Singh. This becomes starkly evident in his photographs posted on his Instagram id, shades_abhishek as every frame comprises of either a boatman, bird, or a saadhu.
Moreover, while describing the picturesque city, Singh cannot help but mention about the ‘magical lane’. “The street is called by that name. You will get five different kinds of lives at one point in time,” he reveals.
Just clicking around whatever he likes in the gullies of Varanasi, Singh perceives photography as an art. “No one can teach you how to draw a line or look for the correct colour composition. If you have the talent, all you need is a little guidance. If one wants to excel in this field, you need to have a different perspective from the others,” says the photographer who clicks pictures to keep himself happy. Further illustrating his point, Singh says, “Sunrise is a very common frame. But what you bring out of it, the angle you chose to capture that frame, is what defines your piece of work.”
According to the cameraman, who took to the craft in 2015, there are two aspects of photography that should be excelled in. While the composition is of the utmost importance, he stresses on paying attention to the editing of the image so that it does not appear unnatural.
While Singh emphasises on patience being the key, he advices on enhancing skills through self-learning. “It will take time and effort. Everything is available for free on Youtube, all kinds of tutorials from the contrast to lighting. I still spend 30-40 minutes on tutorials learning things,” he concludes.