Pursuit of Happiness

Through the viewfinder

Rajdeep Endow, MD, Sapient India, takes to street photography whenever he can find the time

Vishal Koul

Till I went to college, my approach to photography could have been summarised as: Aim the camera at the subject and press the button. And then an engineer friend introduced me to photography.

It was a steep learning curve — I learnt of the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and film speed, understood the depth of field, the rule of thirds, hyper-focal distance and panning. Enough to start showing off. I saved enough money and bought my first camera — a Zenit 12cd, a fully manual Russian SLR...

This is Rajdeep Endow, MD, Sapient India, writing in a company blog shared with 7,000-fellow workers in India — they don’t call them employees — on how his passion for photography helped him become a better professional. 

Quoting legendary photographer Elliott Erwin, Endow says his biggest learning while pursuing his passion has been: “All the technique in the world cannot compensate for an inability to notice”. Simply put, there is no substitute for the powers of acute observation.

“Photography has given me perspective,” says the 42-year old IIM, Ahmedabad graduate, and computer engineer. Endow has had a 10-year stint at Sapient, a US-headquartered company, in leadership positions, before taking over as MD of India operations in December last year. His passion for street photography has made him value the beauty in everyday things. One of the first lessons he picked up while learning photography was — you make a photograph, not take a photo.

His usual modus operandi is to take a walk, absorb the environment, anticipate a situation that captures the moment, before finally pressing the shutter. For Endow, more than aesthetics, each shot has to convey a meaning. His pet themes are — interaction among people in an urban setting, bonding among individuals, or something that captures the pace of a city. Markets, cafes, gatherings around churches or streets are his favourite haunts.  

Over the years, Endow has upgraded his camera gear several times — spending ₹6 lakh till date — and he now uses a Leica Pathfinder, which he finds most unobtrusive during his street shoots. 

He generally carries his camera along everywhere, and on business trips that is at least a week long. Over the last 15 years, he has hit the streets with his camera in at least 20-odd cities across the globe. Vienna, Hong Kong and Mumbai are his favourite shoot destinations, while high on his to-shoot list are old Delhi, Vietnam and Paris.

His personal digital photo library is already 3,000 strong, which he keeps cropping from time to time. Once in a while he handpicks six or seven of his photographs for display in his study at his home. On the wish list is a public exhibition of his collection in another two years. 

Looking back at his “photographic journey” Endow’s message to his co-workers — as he writes in his blog — is: “A great idea, when implemented through great engineering, can change the world. As an idea engineer, do not put the engineering ahead of the idea.”