It was alongside creating lithographs and etchings on zinc plates at his printmaking class at College of Art, Chandigarh that Reuben Singh ascertained his love for photography as a visual medium. Fifteen years hence, Reuben has amassed an experience spanning human interest features, food and interiors, stylised portraiture and, needless to mention, his long lasting affair with the Himalayas.
Currently, the Photo Editor, Special Projects with Hindustan Times, Reuben lives with his family in New Delhi. An interaction…
How did your career start? Was it always photocentric? Please share with us a bit about your growing up years and journey into the world of images.
I grew up in Sanawar, Kasauli hills and was sketching my way into senior school even as others were concentrating more on studies. The experience formed what is a lifelong association with mountains and nature.
Later, I went to College of Art, Chandigarh where I was exposed to graphic printing processes such as Lithography and Etching zinc plates. Among these, I was drawn into the darkroom and through the course of College, I set up my own at home after being involved with photography. I traveled a fair bit due to it and that set the tone for getting into photojournalism.
When did you decide to shift to Delhi and started working as a photojournalist?
I knew before I graduated that I would live in Delhi or Mumbai owing to the lack of opportunities in Chandigarh for a photographer. I signed up for an internship in Mail Today (formerly known as Today, an afternoon tabloid) and was exposed to a variety of streams in photography. It was a steep learning curve. I stayed in Nizamuddin East and would walk around shooting the Mughal monuments there. It was a great place for starting a love affair with Delhi.
Do share a bit about your career graph and varied interests. (viz. trekking and nature photography)
I worked in a tabloid (Today), moved to the Delhi news bureau of a newly setup Mumbai broadsheet (Daily News & Analysis) and then joined India Today news magazine where I worked for nearly seven years, working as Photo Editor for two years. In 2014, I joined Fortune India, the American business magazine before my current assignment that begun this year at Hindustan Times as Photo Editor Special Projects. In some sense, barring a news agency, I’ve witnessed the entire spectrum of photojournalism from newspapers, magazines and now digital media.
Where all has your work featured?
My work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Fortune, India Today, Mail Today, Open, Cosmopolitan, Hindustan Times, Times of India and Daily News & Analysis besides a host of others.
What kind of imagery strikes you the most? Personal preferences and professional assignments…
Conceptual visual imagery of any kind has an impact on me. I prefer pictures that are simple, clean and free of excessive drama. I also love seeing a lot of landscape photography. Personally shooting concept portraiture is a challenge I love to take up. Shooting food is another. I feel simplicity is the hardest part to achieve because we are so used to visual shock therapy and bombarded with pictures all the time. I’m currently working on a series of photographs of India’s political class as a long term project where it is becomes fascinating to observe and shoot these power portraits of people who form an everyday impact on our lives.
What are your observations on the kind of training that goes into the making of a photographer — Relying on technique versus the eye…
Reading up and proper research on what you photograph is extremely important as a photographer. With the kind of cameras and technologies out there today, It’s difficult to go wrong with shooting pictures or even video. An iPhone is a preferred tool for many photographers today to shoot street, use as a polaroid or record notes. The language that defines photography today is no longer formal, or dictated only by pro photographers. With constant practice, observation and other skills can be refined to create better images but at the end of the day it is what you want to convey or achieve with your photography. Language is key.
What is the kind of camera and equipment that you like to use and what format do you like to work in?
I’ve always worked with 35mm. It’s the most convenient with both film and digital. Currently using Nikons and increasingly using my iPhone to document stuff. I work a lot with studio light strobes and am constantly experimenting with different kinds of studio lighting.
What are your photoartist goals? What is it that your heart strives to work on?
Travel and specifically landscape photography is what I would like to spend more time on. Unfortunately in India, there aren’t too many photographers who are known for this genre. Within landscapes, the Indian Himalayas are a great repository that have not been explored to the fullest through photography.
(You can see some of Reuben’s work on www.reubensingh.in)