Having been born into a farmer’s family, Nirmal Narayan Beura embraced the opportunity to work with various NGOs that supported farmers in agriculture and rural development. But never did he imagine that photography, which he picked up as a leisure pursuit would one day turn into a passion. “A few years back when I was in the US, I bought an SLR camera and started capturing the picturesque rural locales,” he explains.
Soon, Nirmal got the opportunity to work in Afghanistan twice, while his love for photography grew. “It is difficult to click pictures in Afghanistan because of the security. Further, culturally we are not allowed to click pictures of the women there. But I couldn’t resist the temptation of clicking breath-taking sceneries of the country. And because of my association with farmers, I did capture some candid emotions and beautiful landscapes,” he states.
Apparently, Afghanistan chiefly grows apples, almonds, apricots, pomegranates and pistachio. Describing his maiden photo exhibition, Nirmal says, “Landscapes, people and farmers have never been presented like this. The Afghan farmers are warm and welcome new farming techniques. And this is exactly what I showcased — the lives of farmers —in my maiden photo exhibition.”
The country of course, has the dubious distinction of being ravaged by war, destruction and insurgency. But the 45-year-old was determined to present a different side of the nation. He reveals, “The unique and dry landscapes, fresh river water, different topography, etc. made people at the exhibition say that they will now look at Afghanistan differently. Had they not come to the exhibition, they would have missed something.
Nirmal explains that photography is all about having an eye for the frame, and what you want to capture. “Also, the art opens a window of opportunities. I felt I have contributed my bit for people who wanted to see Afghanistan differently,” says the Odisha-born and Hyderabad-settled Nirmal, who has completed a Masters in International Development from Cornell University in the US. Nirmal, who will next be travelling towards South East Asia declares that photography has given him the confidence to understand people's true emotions, although it still remains only a leisure pursuit.