Meet Moushumee K Jha, beating all odds being a woman photographer.
Moushumee K Jha
Inspiro India: Tell us something about yourself and how did you start creating?
Moushumee K Jha: Photography happened to me suddenly. I did not plan to be a photographer. In one of my corporate trips to Corbett, I bumped into a wildlife photographer and my 5-minute interaction with him changed my life. The irony is that I don’t even know his name or remember him. But once I picked up my first DSLR, there was no looking back.
Inspiro India: How did you develop an interest in this field?
MKJ: I have had the opportunity to have been a theatre, stage, TV artist and have even worked in a few feature films (Assamese language). As such, the structure and the narration of black and white films, the directors’ instructions to “hold the light” and the nuances of using the play of light and shadow while planning a scene became part of my vocabulary. When I took up photography this language became my main tool. In some sense, my images are my stage, my subjects are the artists and I try to find/tell their stories using light to create a show through my pictures. This would explain my preference for black and white, use of light and shadows, patterns and reflections in my photography. Of course, I had to take a break after my marriage, but once my boys had grown up, with encouragement from my family & friends, I started photography as a hobby to pass time creatively. Soon, my hobby became a full-time profession and I gained confidence as my frames were appreciated by all. The larger push happened as I discovered social media and the ability to share my work with professionals and to hold my own. It’s been 17 fulfilling years since then.
Inspiro India: Did you face any problem while while pursuing this field?
MKJ: Yes, there are some unique challenges for a woman in photography. Firstly there are fewer women, though changing, the infrastructure – accommodations, toilets, transportation may not be women-friendly. Thankfully, in the last 2 decades as more women have joined the work-force across all sectors, this is changing and changing fast. There are areas whereas a woman photographer I can attract unwanted attention; or where I would consider the Security risks carefully.
At times, when I am shooting at odd hours on the street, if the area is troubled or
disturbed, I get told – “ghar jao”, go home. This is not safe for you. But then there are other areas where I may have an advantage being a woman. Street photography is definitely one such – being a woman gives me better access than a man. I can get close to a subject than a man can.
Inspiro India: What is it about Street photography that interests you the most? What are your top three favourite photography locations? and Why?
MKJ: Street celebrates moments, the infinitesimal if you please. I find this pure and unlike any choreographed or art directed setting. It’s the drama of life itself that unfolds in only that fraction of a second. And it is unique, never to be truly repeated. This very trait makes even mundane moments extraordinary. I have spent a fair bit of time shooting in Delhi 6 (Old Delhi), South Of India, Ladakh – especially the Batalik region and most obviously my home region, the glorious north-east of India.
Inspiro India: If not this, What would have Moushumee K Jha been doing?
MKJ: A painter most likely. I have always enjoyed painting since my childhood and I still do once in a while. And of course being a mother, cooking for my boys, which I enjoy immensely.
Inspiro India: Were you formally educated in photography, or are you self-taught?
MKJ: I was not formally educated in photography but I had a great teacher & mentor, in late Rakesh Sahai. He helped to shape my sense of composition, understanding of light and taught me the nuances of this art form. His role in my development is huge.
Inspiro India: Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in Street photography? What are you looking forward to purchasing next?
MKJ: Like any other art form, it takes patience, passion and perseverance. And a bit of luck, sense of timing, Some talent does not hurt either.
Purchase? Hmm… A ticket to Benaras!
Inspiro India: Describe your post-processing workflow? Which camera do you shoot with?
MKJ: There is very minimal post-processing involved in street photography. But for all
other commercial assignments, I use CS 6 for my editing. I use an iMac at my studio and MacBook Pro while on the move. I am a Nikon user.
Photos by ©Moushumee K Jha
Inspiro India: What advice would the artist inside you like to pass on to our readers?
MKJ: Artists are in love with their art-forms. They are trying to tell us a story, their story. Readers must find their own story in them and with the grammar/language they choose.
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