Hall of Fame
Bikas Das
People 12th October, 2016
  Bikas Das is a respected name in the photography fraternity. According to him, the finest art of communication is photography. It does not have any barrier of languages. A trained mountaineer from HMI of Darjeeling, Bikas Das has joined several expeditions and high altitude trekking in the Himalayas. He works for Associated Press (AP) - the global news network and has acted as jury member of panels in various national and international photo contests. As an exhibitor in India and abroad he held solo exhibitions and group expositions several times. He was conferred an Honorary Fellowship, Hon.FCOS, by Photo Club of Sibiu, Romania for excellence in black & white prints. His work is permanently kept in the museums of Romania, Taiwan, Spain and Italy. Bikas Das is presently holding the office of Working President of Sports Photographers' Association of Bengal. He has also acted as Hony. General Secretary of Photographic Association of Bengal.

 

 

Tell us about you… Love to lead my life very simple, till I die. A self-taught professional photographer engaged in the photojournalism stream for last 40 years. I did some mountaineering and high altitude trekking in young days; won numerous awards worldwide including Nikon, Olympus, WHO, UNESCO, FIAP to name only a few, mostly forgotten by time. I spent three years at Satyajug as a freelance to start the career, later joined The Statesman in the same capacity for next 9 years. My works got published worldwide beside Indian newspapers and magazines. Presently I am working with The Associated Press for the last 26 years.

When did you start photography…

In the year 1972 with a rangefinder camera borrowed from a cousin during a picnic party at Nurpur, South 24-Parganas. Later, I became a frequent visitor at PAB (Photographic Association of Bengal) and finally became a member during 1975. I have my own darkroom set up at home since then.  

Yours gears - then and now…

I feel myself very lucky as I have handled many makes and experienced with their pros and cons. As I mentioned above, the first camera was a borrowed one, a Yashica 35 mm rangefinder. In fact the list is very long and lucrative. So far as I can remember after that rangefinder was a Zorki, a Fed3 (both were Soviet Union made and very unique poor man’s camera those days). Then Yashica 635 and G24 Mat (both were 120 square format) along with several Canon rangefinders, Minox, Leica and so on. My first 35 mm SLR was a Mamiya/Secor 500, followed by Nikon F, Minolta SRT 101 & 103, and Canon Pelix QL. I first bought a camera of my own, an Olympus OM1 during 1978. Then changed to Nikon group’s Nikkormat FT2 & FT3 and to Nikon FM & FE followed by Nikon FM2 & FE2 till the end of the year 2000, when the world photography was transforming to digital format. I cannot recall the models of the digital cameras I used till now but all were the high-end flagship products of Nikon and Canon, as the company I work for provided these. Presently I use Canon EOS 5D Mk III and EOS 7D with handful of lenses for the assignments. I use a Fujifilm XE-1 camera for personal use for last two years.

 

What do you love to photograph…

People in their natural condition, undisturbed, unarranged. As I do mostly news and sports photography, it is absolutely unethical practice to arrange a news photograph unless otherwise needed for a story and mentioned clearly in captions. Personally I love to shoot people in candid moods in their habitats, historical places, architecture, nature (not wildlife as I don’t have patience) and so on.

Why do you love this genre that you practice…

It’s my passion, that’s it.

 

Your most loved photo and why do you love it…

There are many. It is very difficult to name one particularly, as the world scenario changing every now and then so the author’s views also changing. The masterpieces were already created, we can evaluate the time and situation the masters spent for their creation and learn from them but it would not be wise to stick to “once upon a time” like situation. Newcomers are doing well, very well indeed and one should encourage them for their commendable works.

 

Your journey so far…

It is a long journey indeed and association with the then great personalities at PAB helped a lot to light up my passion in the early days. Learning and gathering information in photography was not so easy those days; mostly followed the trial and error method. I am still in the learning process and yet to capture a ‘dream’ frame to be remembered with. I have to travel many miles yet.

 

Difference in ‘photography then’ and ‘photography now’…

THEN: it was not so easy as people use it today, “photography is acquiring an elephant as pet at home”. Only “Bank Babus’, Government sector “Babus” and “Raisee Babus”, the affluent people those days, were the practitioners. Practising photography was a dream for middle, lower-middle class people that time. Procuring proper equipment was very strenuous and not so easy like now. I had the opportunity to visit the studios of the then stalwarts and successful commercial photographers like Mono Mitra (most stylish I ever seen), Ajoy Dey, Khushi Som, and Jyotish Chakraborty to see their works. Books and magazines on photography was very limited and was only available in the book stores on Park Street - Dharmatala area of Kolkata. Other resource was American Library and British Library.   NOW: Mobile phone camera made a revolution to reach in every sphere of life nowadays. Internet brought all cast, creed, religion, and region together, there is no big and small, rich and poor. There is no need to print photos also, only share. One can search his/her desirable articles from the huge database on Internet.

 

Your future plans…

Go on shooting in search of a “dream” frame for lifetime. Also, far from the madding crowd, relaxing on a lonely beach under a tree, watching the play of light on surfing waves, imagine faces and forms on passing clouds under a deep blue sky.

Your suggestions for the budding photographers…

(a) Understand what you want to shoot. (b) Plan, point out your subject and imagine a composition first. (c)Do not go on random firing, it would decrease your shutter count (life) and drain battery fast. (d) Do not “review” your pictures on back of the camera immediately standing on the spot as your presence on the middle of the scene may create disturbance to fellow photographers shooting on the same spot. (e) Also you may miss a better frame or action while wasting time reviewing the shot. (f) It would also drain battery fast. (g) Do not buy unnecessary gadget, it may generate more confusion. (h)Be positive and confident. In conclusion, I only quote Sebastiao Salgado “If you’re young and have the time, go and study. Study anthropology, sociology, economy, and geopolitics. Study so that you’re actually able to understand what you’re photographing. What you can photograph and what you should photograph.”