“My other love is music and I’ve been a semi-professional percussionist since the age of 11,” says Souvid. “I play the drums and tabla – an Indian finger drum – and have used the income I’ve made from performing to support my university education and travelling.”
Skydiving is one of Souvid’s favourite hobbies – “I’ve made 38 jumps so far!” – and he watches far too much TV; favourites include The West Wing, House and The Newsroom.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m based in London and primarily a documentary photographer and student journalist.
I was born in Mumbai and moved to London aged 8; having grown up between these two global power hubs, I have developed a strong interest in politics and social issues.
I went to school in London and studied English, Economics, Politics, Maths & Philosophy at A Level, and then International Relations, Law & Philosophy at UCL. Journalism and the need to have an open system of communication, awareness and activism has always been important for me.
More recently I have come to see images as being one of the most compelling media for communication – a kind of record of what we do and value – capable of being intensely emotionally provocative and consequently a crucial ingredient in the antidote to social problems. I got my first camera in January 2012 and haven’t really put it down since.
What inspires your work?
I love travelling, exploring new cultures, meeting strangers. Perhaps that’s why photography spoke to me so directly – because it not only facilitates, but is actively fueled by a sense of adventure and curiosity. My biggest influences in that sense have been Henri Cartier-Bresson, Steve McCurry and Elliot Erwitt.
What is your favourite piece of work you have produced?
The three attached images – from top to bottom:
- From an ongoing series about London’s regeneration projects. Above: a squatter in a council estate that will be destroyed next year in Haggerston, East London.
- From a series set in Morocco. A boy flees from the central marketplace in Tangier where violent anti-corporation riots broke out. February 2012.
- From a series in Kolkata, India, exploring the aftermath of a tragic hospital fire where 89 people were killed due to corporate negligence. January 2012.
Having honed my interests more towards photojournalism and reportage I am much more inspired by James Nachtwey, Yuri Kozyrev and upcoming photojournalists in agencies such as Magnum, Getty Reportage and VII e.g. Sebastian Liste.
I like them in particular because they do not shy away from controversial, long term topics or those projects which pose great personal risk. Their vision is absolute and they wield images as powerful instruments for achieving certain ends.
It is not only their aesthetic expertise and technical skill, but their ability to empower people and preserve their dignity through photography, giving them a global voice which otherwise might never be heard, that make them personal inspirations.
All images © Souvid Datta. To view the images in clearer detail, click on them.