FROM PHOTOGRAPHY TO FILM-MAKING

Towards the end of 2010, while photographing for a commercial client in New Delhi, I had to negotiate the not-insignificant challenge of working alongside a film-crew. I’ve been in this situation several times before but on this occasion there were six of them – directed by an Academy Award winner no-less; my assistant Sunayana and I were well and truly outnumbered! In this fast-converging world of still and moving images, many photographers are making the move into film-making. For my first outing into the world of cinematic journalism, I spent a weekend observing the very serious-business of male grooming on display in a lower middle-class suburb of New Delhi. The movie, entitled “Saloon”, provides a glimpse inside the intimate yet very public space that is the Indian barbershop.…

THE OBLIGATIONS OF A PHOTOJOURNALIST

Attempting to specify where photojournalism ends and art begins is a pretty pointless task. But in the case of Norfolk, I raise the issue because later in the Radio 4 interview, by explaining his approach to photography, Norfolk seemed to perfectly define the merit of photojournalism – as oppose to art – and the obligations that are incumbent upon all of us lucky enough to have been brought up in the Developed World but who work in much poorer countries.

THE SAD STORY OF DHANGA BAIGA

Dhanga’s is not an isolated case. Thirty-three percent of Indians are underweight with a BMI (Body Mass Index) below 18.5 which, Dr Binayak Sen says amounts to a “genocide without bullets”. Sen, a public-health activist and advisor to the JSS, currently resides in prison, serving a life sentence on false charges of sedition. Sen’s real crime has been to expose the Chhattisgarh state government’s appalling failure to represent the interests of those to whom it was elected to serve: ordinary people like Dhanga Baiga.…

WHY INDIA’S COTTON FARMERS STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE

Sangam lost his mother several years ago when she committed suicide in a desperate bid to escape the misery of life with her alcoholic husband. I don’t know why Sangam’s now-estranged father turned to liquor but it is worth appreciating that the prevalence of alcoholism (and suicide) inevitably rises among populations immersed in the hopelessness of debt, contributing to individual ruin and the eventual undoing of communities. As a measure of the crisis in rural India, an average of 47 farmers a day committed suicide in 2009.…

TEA, SAMOSAS AND TIGER RELOCATION

Rajasthan’s chief wildlife warden Ramesh Mehrotra took objection to a story that accompanied my photographs in National Geographic Adventure magazine. In his vexed letter, which seems only to have been published in the print edition of National Geographic Adventure, Mehrotra appeared slighted by writer Paul Kvinta’s critique of Rajasthan’s tiger relocation policy. Mehrotra apparently considered that the fine hospitality and pleasant company he offered us obliged Paul to write a glowing report on the tiger conservation effort. But how much worse it could be if the charms of official hospitality were ever to silence those who scrutinize policy and continue to argue that there are systemic problems with India’s tiger conservation strategy.…