Webinar gets shutterbugs of Modern High School familiar with photography of Kolkata ghats

Subhadrika Sen
Subhadrika Sen
Posted on 09 Nov 2021
12:09 PM
(L-R) Raghu Rai and Debarshi Duttagupta at a virtual session on ghats of Kolkata.

(L-R) Raghu Rai and Debarshi Duttagupta at a virtual session on ghats of Kolkata. Shutterstock and Twitter

Modern High School for Girls Kolkata and Living Waters Museum collaborate for an online session with Raghu Rai and Debarshi Duttagupta
The ace photographers discussed their experience while photographing the ghats along the Hooghly

Photography enthusiasts at Modern High School for Girls were taken on a visual journey of the Ghats of Kolkata by renowned photographer Raghu Rai and cloud and landscape photographer Debarshi Duttagupta.

The virtual session titled Ghats of Kolkata: Through the Lens of time with Raghu Rai and Debarshi Duttagupta, was organised by Focus, the photography club of Modern High School for Girls, and Living Waters Museum, a virtual museum exploring water heritage through storytelling and digital media, on November 2.

"It was a rare privilege for our students to be able to interact with Raghu Rai and Debarshi Duttagupta. Rai's tip about connecting the mind and the eye to capture magical moments was indeed an invaluable lesson. So was Duttagupta’s assurance that the eye and the mind were far more precious than the most expensive camera. Our students will now surely want to explore the ghats of the city on their own," said Devi Kar, director, Modern High School for Girls.


More than 40 shutterbugs from Classes VIII to XII attended the session. The webinar was aimed at making students realise that photography is a powerful medium to capture activities and most importantly spread awareness about various issues.

“Raghu Rai is an admirable photographer with a sublime repertoire of work. When I was selected to moderate the session, I made it a point to look at his works and his books. It was an enriching experience and I hope we have more such sessions,” said Srijoni Mitra, a Class XII Humanities student who interacted with Raghu Rai.

Excerpts from Raghu Rai’s session...

Along the Ghats of Kolkata

In Kolkata, it is an amazing experience to wake up early in the morning and visit the ghats. Going to the ghats every morning is a ritual for me when I am in Kolkata. It is amazing to see the faith people have. My faith lies in the eyes of the beholder I photograph. For me, these ancient traditions of India are more precious than the modern things which are going on and taking over the spirit of India.

The evening is when people return. The soft light, the magic that begins to happen, the spirit of the people changes in the evening.

Experience helps you take better photographs

There is magic in people’s expressions and body language. When people get involved in doing something especially religious or spiritual, it gives you great moments to capture. The birds and the animals are there too. Creativity cannot be explained in different situations. The only thing is you wait for a magical moment to happen. Most of us live like a programmed human machine and that is the worst thing. When you experience something, then it becomes an idea for you to explore. Your experience is far more powerful than the great ideas you have. Your eye should be connected to your heart and not to your head.

When there is no magic, even that is worth capturing. The two most important things are the right moment and the feeling that touches your heart. Also, in what kind of space do you frame it to make the feeling more relevant.

On volatile issues versus the mundane

To be creative, it is not important to go to a big event or an explosive situation because those give you instantaneously dramatic pictures. For me, the mundane daily life which is to be lived by each one of us... when you find some expressions within that ordinariness of daily life, is where the magic lies.

Excerpts from Debarshi Duttagupta’s session…

On photographing the ghats

There is so much activity on the ghats. The Hooghly stretches from central Kolkata right up to the north. People go for leisure walks at Prinsep Ghat or the Judges Ghat area. As you walk along the Hooghly, the nature of people visiting the ghats changes. In north Kolkata, it is almost part of their homes. People go there to take a bath, sit or for some adda. I have seen students studying there and somebody playing the guitar… there is so much to capture.

There is organised chaos in the ghats during the evening. The ghats have become cleaner in the last few years. This place will give you a lot of scope to experience emotions. Photography is a powerful medium to raise awareness about the ghats.

“I realised how important it is to take consent of people if we choose to make them the subject in our photograph. Secondly, I learned that it is not possible for us to first think of an ideal photograph in our heads. Photography can be amazing when we put our hearts to work and not our minds. Thirdly, photographs do not have to be complex to be beautiful. There is beauty in the simplest of things. Also, there's so much to explore in this city alone,” said Mayurakshi Banerjee, a Class XII Commerce student who attended the sessions.

Last updated on 09 Nov 2021
18:37 PM
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