What’s On My Computer Or Thoughts On Digital Image Management & Manipulation

I do not subscribe to the idea of more being better. I have a very limited interested in acquiring new software packages, or hardware devices. To that end I try to keep my digital image manipulation and management tools to a very basic set. Furthermore, I am a photojournalist and do not typically produce the high volume of images that sports, fashion and product photographers produce each day. Keeping this in mind, here is what I loaded on my white core 2 duo macbook. Details »

Getting Past The Obvious: Photojournalism & Lesser Explored Frontiers

Dayanita Singh is an Indian photographer. She used to be an internationally famous photojournalist until the day she realized that the India editors kept asking her to shoot was not what she herself was experiencing. There was a gap between the cliches being asked of her and the complexities, human and social, that she knew lay unexamined behind so many of the stories she was being asked to do. Whether the stories were about poverty, prostitution, child labor or any number of the conventional cliches we seem to love to produce from India, Dayanita Singh was unable to turn off her mind. She was amongst the first to produce a series of images of India’s emerging middle class. She had seen this phenomenon at a time when others would not take it seriously.

Dayanita Singh’s work is beautiful, brilliant and difficult. And one project that I have always loved is a story she did on a Muslim eunuch and her daughter title ”Myself Mona Ahmed’, a beautiful, human portrayal of a subject that has been drowned in cliches and populism – we love to gawk at these creatures and stories about ‘transvestites’, ‘eunuchs’, ‘lady boys’ etc. are on the rosters of many photojournalists. And yet Dayanita’s work is brilliantly different because it is so modest and so honest.

You can read an interview with Dayanita Singh about this story and how she produced it.

You can also find pictures from the work on the NB Pictures website. Just go to the main menu and select ‘*nb photographers’ and choose dayanita’s name.

I encourage you to see and understand this work. It will help you see one very important hallmark of an aftermath photographer; the humility and courage to respect the subject agency of action.

Too often the subject is reduced to a mere victim, the better to allow ourselves or our audience to ‘insert’ itself into the story as ‘saviours’ or ‘interventionists’. This has been the traditional approach for a lot of ‘NGO’ driven work, or even ‘news’ journalism that has been arguing for ‘intervention’. Where there is such a need this is essential. But quite often photojournalists and journalists will create this ‘need’ and erase and/or deny the actual lives and actions of the people they are working with.

‘Myself Mona Ahmed’ reveals a story of a strong, independent individual confronting her society, its prejudices, proud to be a mother, dreaming large dreams and never waiting for anyone.  Its an ordinary story about an ordinary person who happens to have a persona and character that is to many of us rather extraordinary.

Such respect for the possibilities, abilities, convictions, determinations, courage and agency of the others is what enables a photographer to find those more complex, multi-faceted stories that typically reflect an aftermath sensibility.


India Research Resources

There are some fine online news and analysis resources that may prove very useful for you as you research your stories and India in general. Please do check them out – and use their web based search facilities to look for articles and stories that may help give you ideas and insights:

  • Tehelka Probably one of the best independent investigative journalism magazines/websites anywhere in South Asia if not the rest of the world. Staffed by some amazing writers and investigative journalists, Tehelka is famous for taking on the powerful and the wealthy with little or no concern for its consequences.
  • Countercurrents This is an Indian alternative news and analysis site that invites writers from around the globe to discuss issues of national and international important. You will in particular find their sections on ‘Communalism’, ‘Dalit’, and ‘Human Rights’ particularly interesting.
  • Outlook India An English weekly news magazine worth reading – fairly populist, it does however cover the width and breath of issues Indian.
  • Frontline India Another excellent Indian news magazine, but with a more analytical, rigorous approach to its subjects.

Browse them at your convenience. Research your stories on them as well. I think you will find a lot of articles and discussions related to the subjects you will be exploring in Ajmer.


John Steinbeck’s 10 Minute Lesson In Photography

At the start of my photography workshops, I offer the students 2 options.

The first is a sheet of paper in an envelope that they are invited to take home at that very moment, with a full refund of their workshop fee, and trust that what I have written on the enclosed sheet of paper is the only photography lesson they will ever need.

The second of course is that they remain the entire lenght of the 7 days workshop, their fees in my pocket, and walk out of here with the foundations of knowledge and inspirations that can help them continue their path towards becoming real photographers.

No one has ever taken the envelop! Details »

New Possibilities For Overcoming Boredom

These are pivotal times for photographers and documentarians. Many of the conventions of the craft are being questioned by a new generation of artists and story tellers. With the internet liberating many photographers from the conventional ‘gatekeepers’ – editors, gallery curators, publishers and other voices of ‘authority’, a new generation is going out and producing deeply engaging and complex bodies of work. Details »

The Allure of Ajmer: On Saints And Empire Building

As soon as that holy man of virtue departed from Delhi to other worlds, the country, in general, and the city in particular, fell into a turmoil and were subjected to ruin and destruction

The man in question is Delhi’s most famous Sufi saint Nizam al-Din Auliya of the famous Nizamuddin Auliya shrine located in the old city of Delhi. The ruin and destruction refered to here by the Bahmani poet Isami is the collapse of the Tughluq empire. Details »

The Workshop Schedule

Sara and I went over this a few times, but we finally arrived at a proposed schedule for our workshop.

Please note in particular the dates for submissions and review of story ideas:

Preparation Work & Deadlines

  • Story l/ideas must be sent to Sara and Asim by June 15th
  • Story review/comments from Sara and Asim by June 30th
  • Story revisions due to Sara and Asim by July 10th
  • Stories approved by July 15th Details »