Book description of ‘INDIA’ by Debra Schoenberger:
I have always been fascinated by the sheer beauty and diversity in Indian culture. “Sensory overload in a glance” is an apt description of a country that is always in movement. To be able to stand still in the middle of all that movement allows me to really “see” her people and absorb the flow of life from birth to death.
From learning how to make yellow ink from cow urine to watching funeral pyres burn in Varanasi, I realized that I would have to spend a lifetime here to grasp the immense value of her art, stunning architecture, fascinating food and love of all that is beautiful.
Debra Schoenberger aka #girlwithcamera
“My dad always carried a camera under the seat of his car and was constantly taking pictures. I think that his example, together with pouring over National Geographic magazines as a child fuelled my curiosity for the world around me.
I am a documentary photographer and street photography is my passion. Some of my images have been chosen by National Geographic as editor’s favourites and are on display in the National Geographic museum in Washington, DC. I also have an off-kilter sense of humour so I’m always looking for the unusual.
1) What message did you want to convey about India through your photographs? Describe the composition/lighting/color schemes that you used to do this.
Any particular message? Hmmm, that’s a good question. I wanted to convey the message that even though someone speaks a different language and lives in a different culture, people are pretty much the same: we all have the same needs, dreams and responsibilities.
I used only natural or existing lighting conditions as I did not want to have to carry a flash or lighting equipment. If you know your camera well, you know exactly what conditions you can shoot in. Composition comes from years of practice as well as by studying the works of other documentary or street photographers. I find that my subconscious will “see the image” and then my hand will reach for my camera and take the shot.
2) Where and when did you visit India for your photography book?
My last trips to India were in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Some of the places I visited were Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra, Khajuraho, Jojawar and others.
3) How did you set up your itinerary? For example, did you set up one day for going to town centers, another for touring historical architecture, and then on the third meeting the locals? Or did you travel to a certain city/region each day and photograph what it had to offer?
The itinerary was already prepared and I already knew which places to we were going to visit. However, once I was in a particular location, I would explore the surrounding neighbourhood wherever possible hoping to see something that would catch my eye.
4) Your bio says your father carried a camera and constantly took photographs. How did that inspire you to become a photographer?
I observed that every photo he took preserved a bit of history. As a history lover myself, I thought this was the most practical way to continue doing just that. We both have a pretty crazy sense of humour, so there have been some “unusual” shots over the years.
5) How did National Geographic fuel your curiosity about the world?
Growing up in northern Canada with no access to outside books apart from the small school library, I would pore over the National Geographic magazines that we would receive every month via subscription. My dad renewed that subscription for years. It was quite an education.