Pubarun Basu has worked on his photography skills every day for the past two years. “I’d either take pictures or process them. It not only kept me occupied but also kept me sane during the pandemic.” The 20-year-old photographer from Kolkata recently received the Sony World Photography Awards’ Youth Photographer of the Year 2021. “Over 3,30,000 entries were received from over 220 different countries. This is the first time an Indian has won this award. He expresses his gratitude by saying, “I am humbled by the appreciation.”
Pubarun’s award-winning photograph, No Escape from Fact, was submitted in July 2020. “It was during the lockdown, and I needed to find something for the competition from my surroundings. I was in my parents’ bedroom one evening when I noticed the bright sunlight streaming in through the window. The iron bars cast shadows on the curtain, creating the illusion of a cage. I asked my mother to stand behind the curtain and reach out to touch the fabric with her hands. It reflects the sensation of being stuck in a moment or in one’s reality for me.”
The award was announced to Pubarun in March. But he had to keep it a secret before last week’s official announcement. “Apart from my dad, no one knew, and that was the most difficult part.” A certificate and photographic equipment are included in the prize. “My work will also be included in the organization’s annual picture book,” says the artist. In London, there is typically a felicitation ceremony followed by an exhibition. Thanks to the pandemic, it did not happen this year.”
He’s taking part in the competition for the second time. “I made my first attempt in 2019.” Despite the fact that the editor chose my image as a highlight, I did not receive an award. The experience inspired me to take part this year.”
Pubarun’s passion for photography began at the age of four. “My dad, Pranab Basu, is also a photographer, and as a kid, I used to play with his camera. When I was ten years old, he gave me my first camera. It was a simple design. For the past five years, I’ve been shooting with my father’s full-frame camera,” he says.
Pubarun learned the majority of his skills through trial and error. “I was always driven by my father. I have access to a selection of his photography books. Social networking was also beneficial. It allowed me to see the work of photographers from all over the world.” During the lockdown, he enrolled in an online photography course offered by the New York Museum of Modern Art.
“It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about art photography.” Henri Cartier Bresson, Steve McCurry, and Raghu Rai are among his favorite photographers. “Their portraits are both powerful and beautiful. Through my job, I hope to tell the stories of the people in my community. In the future, I’d like to try my hand at filmmaking.”