The Brussels Street Photography Festival (BSPF) interviews Sachin Chauhan, the 2019 winner of the BSPF Singles contest. This interview was included as part of his prize package.
A brief introduction
At 22, Sachin Chauhan is a rising sensation in the street photography world. Based in Gurgaon, India, Chauhan’s photography captures the early morning hours of a chaotic world. Chauhan won the 2019 Singles prize at the Brussels Street Photography Festival. We sat down with Chauhan to learn more about him and is passion for street photography.
What lead you to street photography?
I’ve been doing photography for three years, and when I started I tried to copy some internet stuff, viral photos on Instagram. One day, one of my friends said to me, “Sachin, this is not photography,” and he introduced me to street photography. Street photography is like meditation for me, there’s a balance between your mind and your body. Street photography is all about living in a present moment, the candidness. I think street photography is one of the purest forms of photography.
As a photographer based in India, the country and its people seem to really come to life in your photos. What is it about India that you love shooting?
India is a golden place for street photographers. I love to shoot people. I love to shoot festivals. There are lots of festivals in India. I’m Hindu, but when I enter into photography, a photographer doesn’t have a religion. I love to shoot Eid, I love to shoot Christmas. So for me, photography helps me explore other faiths.
In your earlier photographs you often shot in black and white, but with your prize-winning single and your series, they’re very colorful. What lead you away from black and white and more to color?
All around the world we differentiate others by cultures, colors, skin tones, but with black and white everyone’s the same, it adds peace in your frames, but it’s actually a coincidence. There’s not a particular mindset I have. What I like I shoot.
What’s a typical day out shooting like? Do you have a routine?
I live in Gurgaon, far from Delhi, about 30km, so I wake up at 4 o’clock, take the metro, and go to Delhi and shoot for around 3-4 hours. I then come back to my home, go to my office, and after I check out my photographs I clicked that day, edit them, and upload them on Instagram. Basically, I shoot a lot. If I’m shooting, my mind, and my heart, and my camera, they all have to be in line–there’s a sync.
What is your camera setup like, and does it change depending on what you anticipate on shooting that day?
I have a Nikon D5200 with an 18-55mm lens. I’m not rich, I’m shooting with a basic camera. 99% of the time I use that camera in the street. Photography isn’t about expensive gear, it’s all about how to improve your vision. If you want to spend money, then go and buy some good books on photography. I think books change your mindset and your vision.
Can you tell us about the photo of the cats that won Singles Contest and how it came to be?
My friend and I went to the Jama Masjid mosque in Old Delhi and we were shooting. Suddenly, I saw there were some black cats there. For just a fraction of a second, they were close to each other so I used my camera pop-up flash in that situation to capture that moment. I felt like, there’s something, there’s something, there’s something, and I happen to press my shutter at the perfect moment.
What does the Brussels Street Photography Festival mean to you and what does it mean to you winning first prize?
There are three street photography festivals in my mind–Miami, Brussels, and London. I never expected this! I’m so young, I’m just 22. I think maybe two or three times I watched that clip of the live announcement. All the finalists are amazing, I was just glad I was a finalist with them. Still, I can’t believe I won BSPF 2019! Everyone called me and said, “You won Brussels!” Some universities called me and invited me to be a guest photographer here in India, and I didn’t have any words, I was speechless. Thank you so much, Brussels!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a street photographer?
Just go and shoot. Click what you like. Don’t try to copy someone. If nobody recognizes you or appreciates you, it doesn’t matter–it takes time, you need patience. Street photography is not for everyone. We don’t choose it, it chooses us. If street is with you, go out and shoot. Follow a routine. Shoot daily. Everyone is a learner here I think. We’re all learners. Learn from everyone but follow no one.
You can view more of Sachin’s work on his Instagram.