Participants take photographs at the lake and (right) a “no photography” sign being taken down. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)
If a camera is your best friend and you still haven’t trained it on Rabindra Sarobar, blame it on the boards saying “No photography without prior permission”.
Out of bounds for photographers for 30 years, the authorities responsible for the upkeep and development of the lakeside — the Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT) and Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) — decided to open the complex to shutterbugs last December.
But not all no-photography signboards had been removed. This created some confusion, with amateur photographers often harassed by police, said a regular visitor.
Now, the authorities want to clear the confusion and send out a message that it’s okay to go shoot (with your camera, of course) at the Lakes. And what better way to do this than invite interested amateur photographers for a workshop with a pro?
The CIT and the CMDA organised a landscape photography workshop at Rabindra Sarobar in association with Camarena, a photography store chain, last weekend at the lake complex. Conducting the event with 20 amateurs was photographer Soumitra Datta.
On Saturday, the authorities also removed the few remaining boards that barred photography at the lake complex without the CIT’s permission.
“Camarena often organises photography workshops and I keep track of them on Facebook. But when I heard of the workshop with landscape photographer Soumitra Datta, that too at Rabindra Sarobar, I got doubly excited and immediately signed up,” said Sambeet Roy, 35.
The participants were given a four-hour theoretical brief on landscape photography by Datta. “Our vision is to capture the life, spirit and essence of Rabindra Sarobar. I have been here a number of times for taking pictures. Though I haven’t faced any problems, most photographers often did,” said Datta as his students — ranging from a Class XII student to a photo enthusiast in his 60s — took over the lake.
“I stay a stone’s throw from here,” said Mudar Patherya, one of the participants, for whom photography “is a passion”. “This workshop would help bridge the gap between those who want to capture the lake in various frames but are, as yet, unaware of the ban having been lifted.”
“On Sunday, we organised two sessions, one at 5am and the other at 3pm, when the light is the best. After today, everyone will get to send in their best few photos to us, which would be sorted by Datta on October 2. The selected ones would go up on our Camarena concept store’s gallery walls at E-Mall [in Chandni Chowk] in the coming week,” said Rohit Nyss, Camarena’s general manager, marketing.
Sudip Ghosh, a “serious amateur” photographer who lives on Southern Avenue, said: “I come out to the lake often, sometimes with my children. But every time I wanted to take photos, the police stopped us. I wonder why they don’t nab the illegal vendors roaming about the lake, rather than go after photographers.”
“I seriously don’t know why there was a ban on photography here,” confessed Vivek Bharadwaj, the chief executive officer of CMDA. “We want to encourage people to shoot the beautiful parts of their city and that’s why we had lifted the ban and have now removed the remaining signboards. If there’s any trouble, I request the photographers to lodge a complaint with police and us. There are a number of other things that the cops should be looking into at the lake, rather than chase photographers.”