To commemorate the 1st anniversary of #TheStreetFactor, we present to you
the fourth part of a series of journals dedicated to the great masters:
The Pioneers of Street Photography.
(October 22, 1942 - April 18, 1999)
was among the first photographers to successfully use color, especially in the fields of
Documentary and Street Photography, to great acclaim.
Crawford Market, Mumbai, Maharashtra - 1993. © Raghubir Singh
Born in Jaipur, India, Singh attended St. Xavier's School school and it was here that he discovered Cartier-Bresson's
little-known book, Beautiful Jaipur, published in 1949, which inspired his interest in photography.
Later on after a year of studying arts at The Hindu College in New Delhi, Raghubir decided to drop out.
Now, with time on his hands, he began taking photographs using a camera
his brother, Pratap Singh had brought for him from Hong Kong.
Taxi Driver and Pedestrian Argue, Chitpur Road, Calcutta - 1987. © Raghubir Singh.
Singh then moved south to join his other brother, Bhopal Singh, as a tea planter near Calcutta.
This was not successful and he resumed taking pictures with enthusiasm,
learning from Bhopal what he called 'the aesthetics of the candid style'.
Women Servants, Calcutta - 1986. © Raghubir Singh.
After moving to Calcutta to photograph street scenes, Raghubir got his first commercial break in the mid-60s,
when Life magazine published several pages of his photographs of student unrest in India.
Bazaar through Glass Door, Bombay, 1989. © Raghubir Singh.
That success fueled a career as a photojournalist that kept him in India until 1976.
Singh, a self-confessed "semi-nomad," began to roam the globe, living and working in London, Paris,
Hong Kong and New York, leaving boxes of books and photographs piled high in friends' houses along the way.
Chess Players, Banaras Floods, 1967. © Raghubir Singh.
Although money was often in short supply, it didn't prevent Singh from generally living in the manner he desired.
By the mid-1970s Singh was 'visiting' from the European, and then the US, outposts he chose to make his home.
In Paris, he came to know Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose own vision of India could hardly be more different from his own.
Visitors to the Taj Mahal - 1993. © Raghubir Singh.
Singh had strong views on why black was an alien colour in Indian culture, and the inappropriateness of
using black-and-white film to 'produce the angst and alienation rooted in the work of western photographers
such as Brassai, Brandt, Frank and Arbus.'
Trichur, Kerala, 1985. © Raghubir Singh.
Nonetheless the two photographers could no doubt concur, in Singh's words,
on a shared 'interest to photograph in the documentary style, where the viewfinder is a window onto two worlds;
the internal as well as the external.'
Vendor and Clients, Bundi Town, Rajasthan, India - 1997. © Raghubir Singh.
In time Singh was acknowledged with William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld as one of
the finest photographers of his generation and a leading pioneer of colour photography.
Grand Trunk Road, Durgarpur, West Bengal, 1988. © Raghubir Singh.
"There is one problem for me if I try to shoot in the West," Singh said in an interview with the Washington Post.
"There's an element of privacy . . . even on the street. You can't go up to someone and put your camera in his or her face.
You can sneak a photograph, but you can't, you can't intrude on the person."
Pilgrim and Ambassador car, Kumbh Mela, Prayag, Uttar Pradesh, 1977. © Raghubir Singh.
"Now, in India, you can do it all the time. No one minds.
[And] every Indian person thinks of the photograph--the camera--as something before which he poses.
So you might have shot several rolls of someone, you know, but that person . . . will not think that you have
taken a photograph until he's struck a pose."
Pavement mirror shop, Howrah, West Bengal, 1991. © Raghubir Singh.
His work reflected a mastery of color and subtlety.
"To see India monochromatically," he told Time magazine, "is to miss it altogether."
Monsoon Rains, Monghyr, Bihar - 1967. © Raghubir Singh.
Check out these great Street Photography groups:
Are you a Street Photographer who likes to know more about "Street",
give and receive feedback and constructive critique on your street photos?
Are you a beginner and looking for resources and material on Street Photography?
Are you looking for inspiration, motivation, a spur to go out and shoot?
Then here's the perfect Street Group for you:
Most excerpts and Photographs shamelessly lifted and edited from:
- Multiple sources from around the web -
- Wikipedia -