To celebrate its centenary in 2014, Leica asked 10 photographers from around the world to do a project with their artistic fathers in mind. It paired Craig Semetko with the Magnum Photos photographer Elliott Erwitt, the master of black and whites and street photography, who had an eye for fun. Forty one of the prints of Semetko's 'India Unposed' collection are hanging at an exhibition, for which Semetko chose to go, as he says, "black and white in one of the most colourful countries in the world."
Unposed is Semetko's trail of Erwitt as much as it is of India. But in that pursuit, he has managed to capture experiences that are off the street in which the person being shot is perhaps in the midst of a private moment while being part of a 'scene.'
The man sleeping on a cart on a railway platform with dozens of people in the background, the single man looking at the couple in love at Bandra - these are images of relationships rather than solitude.
"They seem solitary because I go to great pains to isolate my subject from their background," explains Semetko in an email interview. "If you have lots of people in the photo, it can be difficult to tell the story you want to tell, unless of course the story is about lots of people. Raghu Rai and Sebastio Salgado did that beautifully with photos of crowded Indian train stations. The crowds were the story."
River Ganga, Varanasi
Indians, and especially children, says Semetko, is good to photographers. With the exception of Indonesia, he says he has never been in a country like India where kids are so eager to have their pictures taken. Many would run to him up to him yelling for a photo and then run off without even waiting to look at their image on the back of the camera. "They just wanted the experience of having their photo taken," says the photographer.
Catch 'India Unposed' at Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53 Defence Colony, till till April 18.