Click to change mindsets

This World Photography Day, shutterbugs talk about why the camera is necessary to bring about social reform.

Photographs have changed the world. Be it Nick Ut’s iconic ‘Napalm Girl’ capture from the Vietnam war or Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer-winning photo of a vulture waiting to eat a toddler from Sudan, these images have altered the world we live in. They have shocked people around the globe, brought about discussions on war, and have helped the world to become a better place.

Venket's body positivity project.Venket’s body positivity project.

On World Photography Day this year, DC speaks to many city-based photographers about their projects on social causes and how photography is an essential tool in shaping minds, and consequently, lives.

Senthil's Human and Tiger Conflict.Senthil’s Human and Tiger Conflict.

“If you look through history, you can see that photographs played a huge role in several major developments. The picture by Jeff Widener from Tiananmen Square, which has a man standing against four government tanks is one such example. Pictures have been behind many revolutions,” says Santhosh, a photographer and documentary filmmaker.


Santhosh has worked on many imaginative series all around the world, and has made a documentary/ photography series titled Third Gender, which speaks about the sad state of transgender people in India. “Even filmmakers refer to photographers — for instance, Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan has the impact of Robert Capa. Though films have become essential, they are extension of images. Psychologically, the brain stores things as stills and not as moving images. So, the role of photography will be there always in shaping us.”

Abhay and a picture from his  project Masked.Abhay and a picture from his project Masked.

Senthil Kumaran, an independent visual storyteller, has done extensive works on animal and human conflicts to echo his views. He has travelled across the country for his project Human and Tiger Conflict. Senthil says, “The things that you can’t say in text can be easily interpreted through a single picture. There are numerous books about man-animal conflicts, but a conservationist can’t read them all. For the common man, pictures and videos get the message across very easily. But videos have a downside because of time constraint; one cannot spend hours in documentaries. However, a series of pictures with just few lines of explanation can do the job better.”

Popular photographer G Venket Ram, earlier, collaborated for a photoshoot on body positivity. He included models and mannequins of all sizes, heights and skin tones. Talking to DC earlier, he said that campaigns like this would change the mentality of adolescents and make them more broad-minded when it came to appearances. He added, “So far, we’ve not seen mannequins that actually look like us — but on the other hand, when we look at them, we get a false idea of the so-called ‘perfect look’. But this photoshoot is to prove that there is nothing wrong in being us.”

Abhay and a picture from his  project Masked.

Ganesh Toasty, who conceptualised the Tanirika photo series, an impactful project on rape, opines, “As a photographer, one has a lot of responsibilities. If you take my career for instance, when I started with street photography, I got to know the lives of a lot people who’re living in the streets. In fact, when I went to Kashmir and visited houses there, I witnessed daughters and sons who had lost their parents to bomb blasts. Before becoming a photographer, I didn’t get to experience or see all this — but I would say photography has changed me and made me more responsible.”

He continues, “This eventually led me to come up with a photo series to shed some awareness on rape — which was well-received internationally. While a section of people feel that women have to dress conservatively, another section said that it was a lack of sex education for men, which was responsible for rape. I don’t agree with both, but all I wanted to say is that the missing factor is humanity and nothing else — this was the inspiration behind Tanirika.”

The shutterbug also gives a word of advice for young and budding photographers — “As a photographer, you have the whole world as your target audience. So when you witness an incident, it is your responsibility to show it to the rest of the world. Nowadays, we see people who are good at editing or clicking good shots become photographer — I would urge them to not just end with that. You have to bring in fresh ideas and should not just do copy work of someone else.”

“The impact of a picture is extreme. That’s why people say ‘a picture speaks more than thousand words’. A lot of things also depend on what’s being photographed and how,” says Abhay Kumar, who photographed the art project Masked, which enforces body positivity. As part of the project, two artists, Anjana John and Meenakshi Praveen, drew intricate zentangle patterns on the body of model Aarthi B.

A  shot from his series Tanirika.A shot from his series Tanirika.

He adds, “More than a social cause, it’s all about what we want to convey to the masses through our works. So, when I can spread a message using my pictures, why not?”

— Inputs from Balajee CR

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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