Kolkata-based street photographer Debrani Das (who’s also photography columnist at WeTheWorld Magazine) just recently bagged the winning trophy from one of the social media’s most influential and popular photography platform Women Street Photographers.
Debrani, having won the Women Street Photographers Artist Residency 2020, will now live a photographer’s dream (delayed by the pandemic) as a resident artist for two weeks in the prestigious El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 studio in New York City, USA.
While in her 14-day stay, she will be mentored by Ximena Echague, and her round trip tickets from anywhere in the world will be awarded to her. In Debrani’s case, she’ll board the flight from Kolkata for New York. Pretty much everything Debrani dreamt of, she told WeTheWorld Magazine.
Women Street Photographers as a platform ‘of well-curated, quality street photography was done by women,’ was founded by a former Associated Press photojournalist Gulnara Samoilova, based in New York. She is known for her iconic coverage of the disastrous 9/11 terror attack.
Among the many other perks, Debrani will get are – $50 stipend per day, chance to hold her solo exhibition during the annual “Women Street Photographers” group exhibition in April 2021, and the chance to mingle some of the best woman photographers in the world during receptions.
But as hunky-dory it all sounds, for someone hailing from a middle-class Bengali household, who is also a proud ‘homemaker’ the destinations is not a very smooth one.
‘I never gave any chance of complaint to my in-laws,’ Debrani said in a candid conversation, adding that from her in-law’s side, they have been extremely supportive of her passion as well.
While Indian women are arguably hailing more than ever, leaping boundaries after boundaries, breaking one stereotype after another, smashing every obstacle that has so far held them back, challenges still persist in subtle layers when you’re in a third-world country.
But as Debrani insisted, when you can manage time and if there is support from the loved ones, nothing can stop someone from achieving the dreams, provided you have the passion imbibed in you.
“Shooting in the streets of New York is my dream. Although I have stayed in New York for 2 nights, but never got a chance to shoot per se,” she said. Prior to this win, WeTheWorld Magazine had featured one of her photo series on ‘Silence’ which was her first tryst with the art, and the outstanding images she took were taken candidly, without any prior photographic experience, she told previously.
When asked, why did you participated in this competition (the same question was also asked by the platform in her submission statement), Debrani said: “There are a lot of grants for documentary photographers, many organizations fund them, but for a photographer like me, who purely sticks to ‘street photography’ I am not aware of many such grants. So when I saw this competition, I saw the opportunity to uphold my work. This was the main reason I applied.”
The series of images that won her the ticket to New York is still unpublished and it is unclear when the photos will be released and so on. But she promised, she’ll share the same with this publication.
Debrani said many times she faces the question of what message do you have for women street photographers, and her response is – courage. She also said time management is very essential.
“As homemakers, we certainly have a lot of work to do. But that does not mean we work 24-hours. When you’re passionate enough and can manage time efficiently, it is not impossible.”
When asked what can we expect in the future, Debrani says as of now she’s very excited for her solo New York exhibition. And what lays ahead is unpredictable.