Saturday, May 21, 2011

Obituary: Tribute to a True Photo-Artist: Benu Sen, MFIAP, FRPS, ESFIAP


Benu Sen,


Born in 1932, and trained to be a ground engineer, Benu Sen’s association with the viewfinder happened by a sheer play of chance. It was August 15, 1954, when Sen accompanied a camera-lugging friend to an Independence Day celebration. The device sparked off his curiosity and he was keen to have a look at the new equipment with his friend, who however turned down the request on the ground that his tampering might damage the camera. That came as a blow to his pride which took him the very next day to a junk market in Kolkata – to look for lenses, tin and other scrap materials to assemble his very own camera. The success of this attempt triggered a spurt of diverse experimentation in camera mechanics and darkroom techniques. Not surprisingly, engineering took a backseat. Hereafter the endless voyage of creativity began.

In 1957, Benu Sen, along with like-minded friends, established the Photographic Association of Dumdum to practice, propagate and discuss the nuances of this art form. Another remarkable contribution of Sen is his initiative in setting up a state-of-the-art photography department in the Indian Museum Kolkata. Established in 1963, it was the first of this kind in India.

However, the most notable milestone for this septuagenarian photo artist was perhaps the starting of free photographic courses under the wings of the Photographic Association of Dumdum. Since the launch of the course in 1969, this association has blossomed into a full-fledged institute for systematic schooling in photography, totally free of cost. With an expert faculty, all of whom are engaged voluntarily; it offers a one-year certificate course and a subsequent two-year diploma to aspirants, irrespective of age and academic qualifications. Many of his students are well placed in senior level positions in the Government Establishments (Including Rashtrapati Bhawan, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Ministry of Defense, Department of Culture, and Department of Science etc.), public sector and autonomous organizations, private sectors and individual entrepreneurship.

He was the 3rd man in the world to have received the rare honor of ‘Master of Photography’ (M.F.I.A.P.) from the Federation International de L’ Art Photographique, a body under the recognition of UNESCO. He was conferred the Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain (F.R.P.S.) in 1975, EFIAP in 1960, ESFIAP in 1972 and number Honorary fellowships like Hon F.J.I.A.P. (Japan), F.N.P.A.S. (Sri Lanka), Hon. F.P.B.S. (Bangladesh), Hon. F.P.A.D (India), Hon. F.C.O.S (Romania), Hon. P.A.B, Hon. S.O.P etc. for his contribution to pictorial photography.

Photo Division of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India launched the National Photography Awards for the first time in 2010 in order to commemorate its Golden Jubilee Celebration. Among the four recipients of these awards, Benu Sen was one of them.

His other remarkable contribution to photography is the BS4 formula, an extra ordinary fine grain developer for tropical countries. Moreover, he introduced colour photogram and colour separation from Black & White Negatives in India.

During his lifetime, he organized 7 International Photographic Conferences, 12 All India Seminars, 48 international Salons and several local exhibitions to promote and propagate photography throughout the world. He organized a number of Solo Exhibitions and Group Shows. Mr. Sen presented a number of papers. Many of them had been published in reputed journals. He delivered talks on T.V & Radio t on photography. He was former Vice President and founder member of India International Photographic Council, New Delhi and Former Vice President, Calcutta Photo Club Coordination Center. He served as Jury in a number of national and International Salons, both in India and abroad during the last 50 years. He had written a few books as well. One of his most valuable publications was “Art of Photography” (1979). He was co-author of the most important books, “Experimental Photography” and “Learn Photography”.

Benu Sen retired from the Indian Museum as photo Officer in 1990. During his service period, he contributed a lot both in the field of Social & Cultural Anthropology and allied Museum Photography.

As an artist, he had enormous exhibits in different Salons throughout the world and won several awards at international level. He was adjudged the best Indian Pictorialist by the Camera World International, Australia for his peculiarly imaginative photographs. He was honoured by the Harvard Scenetic Museum, Harvard University, for his outstanding contribution to museum photography. To crown all, he had been conferred the Honorary Excellence of the ‘Federation International de L’ Art Photographique’ the highest International body of photography, in the world. Government of India honoured him with lifetime achievement award in 2010 for his valuable contribution in the field of creative photography.

He was the Secretary General, Federation of Indian Photography and President of Photographic Association of Dum Dum.

Passing away of Mr. Benu Sen is a big loss to the world of creativity. His valuable services to the field of art-photography and his cooperative nature will always be remembered.

(Courtesy: Mr. Debatosh Sengupta, Director, Photo Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, Delhi; Prof. Bistwatosh Sengupta, Hony. Secretary, Photographic Association of Dum Dum, Kolkata; Mr. Shyamal Kumar Roy, Kolkata and Official Website of Photographic Association of Dum Dum)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Profile : A fanatical Photography-lover: Dr. Vikas Verma


A fanatical Photography-lover: Dr. Vikas Verma

Born in Pilibhit (U.P, India), Dr. Vikas Verma did his schooling from Birla Vidya Mandir at Nainital. He spent the golden period of his Life there. During this phase he found himself very much close to nature. His desire to capture nature’s beauty developed during his school-days. As his father has been an art lover, he always motivated him for pursuing photography.

He completed his Intermediate in 1989. Afterwards he took admission in Dr.M.P.K Rajasthan Homoeopathic Medical College Jaipur (Rajasthan University) in 1990 in order to carry out BHMS. He was one of the brightest students of this college and was awarded for his talent many times. After completing his medical course he decided to start his own practice and thus shifted to Bareilly 1998. Presently he is one of the competent medical practitioners of his region. A number of patients suffering from the chronic diseases, skin diseases, stubborn organic disorders and psychiatric disorders have got benefitted of his services.

Dr. Vikas’ childhood-passion for photography could not take shape due to his studies and profession. This was some 5 years back when he decided to begin photography seriously. Once determined, he never looked back.

He loves travelling the places and never fails to carry his camera with him. His family members encourage him for his efforts in the field of art all the time. He consistently takes part in photo-exhibitions and contests. Few of his images have been accepted in reputed photography competitions. He is an active member of India International Photographic Council, Delhi and Photo Vision Society, Bareilly. He acknowledges his father and his friend Mr. Deepak Sharma (A senior IPS officer) for whatever he is able to do in the field of art-photography.

Dr. Vikas works with a Canon 550 D SLR Camera and a 18-135 mm lens. The main subjects of his interest are Landscapes, Small Creatures and Wild life. He believes in new experiments. His son is also a passionate photography-lover and keeps himself busy in clicking nature and human life. Apart from photography, he is fond of music and stage performances.

--Dr. Pankaj Sharma

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Learning: Photographing Human Life


"Photographing Human Life"

Photo-artists have been inclined towards portraying human life since long. This is quite natural as the person behind the camera is also a human being. Photography can portray life more truly than any other medium of art. A good photographer is capable enough to highlight different moods of life, i.e. happiness, zeal, sorrow, tragedy etc. as it is. We can prepare excellent human life shots by following a few points.

Our first aim should be to capture the people in their natural mood. For this purpose we must study their behavior initially. This enables us clicking them in their natural frame of mind.

We have to use a telephoto lens or a long-ranged zoom lens. These lenses help us capturing the activities of the people from a distance and without making them conscious of our presence. The wise use of these lenses can photograph them in their best temper.

If we lack above lenses, we can get better results by using a normal or a short zoom lens as well. While using these lenses we should firstly mix up with the persons whom we are photographing. When we find them friendly with us, we have a correct time to click.

Our photograph should tell some story. A flat documentation of the people gives a feel of monotony. On the other hand a photograph with some activities attracts the viewers at first sight.

We must aim at capturing the people with their surroundings, such as their home, their work place etc. This makes a photograph complete.

Right click at a right moment is an essential factor. We have to be vigilant for an accurate moment in order to obtain an appealing image.

Light always plays a significant role. Soft light of early and late hours of the day is best for achieving good human life shots. One sided sun light of morning and evening adds depth and feel to the image. Against light (light coming from behind the subject) sometimes gives dramatic results, in particular when our subject has a dark background.

---Dr. Pankaj Sharma