Indian Photo Festival: Photographers capture all walks of life at Hyderabad's longest running international photography exhibition

Expect works by acclaimed photographers of the world on human trafficking, LGBTQIA+ community, war, travel, beauty of India and more 

Priyamvada Rana Published :  18th November 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  18th November 2022 12:00 AM
Photo by Gui Christ

Photo by Gui Christ

The wait for one of the country’s biggest and longest-running international photography exhibitions is over with the start of the Indian Photo Festival. The festival, touted as one of the most anticipated ones in South Asia, is back in its 8th edition. And like its previous editions, it has a robust line-up of acclaimed photographers’ work on display, not just from India, but France, US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Iran, Romania, Ukraine and several other countries. The photographs will be showcased at historical venues like the State Art Gallery, Salar Jung Museum and KBR Park. Visitors can expect an impressive line-up of artist talks, print and digital photography exhibitions, screenings, workshops and portfolio reviews.

Photograph by Gui Christ

Given the festival is coming back on the ground after a two-year hiatus induced by the pandemic, its artistic director Aquin Mathews is quite thrilled! He shares with us some highlights,“We have Indian photographer Smita Sharma who explores the growing menace of human trafficking, French photographer Ana Bloom’s work on refugee crisis, Italian photographer Diego Fedele’s work on the absurdity of war, Australian photographer Matthew Dunne’s photos on the loss of biodiversity, Indian photographer Nishat Fatima’s captures on LGBTQIA+ community, Iranian photographer Shaghayegh Moradiannejad’s work on the self-immolation among the Kurdish women amongst many more.” Apart from the line-up, visitors will be treated to India’s first travelling photo gallery— an endeavour to make photography and festival more accessible to all. With IPF showing different faces of the world — from portraits of humanity, social issues, and political themes to visuals of love, loss, rituals and diverse cultures — we couldn’t wait to spotlight them for you.

A stunning capture by Debrani Das

Reflection of society
Some of the most powerful works at IPF are the ones that hold a mirror to society and its various vices. For one, award-winning photojournalist Smita Sharma’s photo-book launch We Cry In Silence is going to be a major highlight. The Delhi-based visual storyteller has documented the cross-border trafficking of underage girls in South East Asia in a series of moving photographs mostly taken from India and Bangladesh. Smita’s challenges doubled during the project due to her pregnancy. However, she remained undeterred. Telling us about the emotional upheavals she went through and coped with at that time, Smita shares, “I have been working on crime and social justice issues for over a decade now. So what I have kept in mind while being on the field is to keep my focus on the subject and not let my emotions come in between. Yes, there are times when I have even cried but I can’t let that come in between my work.”

We Cry in Silence project by Smita Sharma

We asked Smita about what went behind the documentation of her photo-book as a woman and her revelations left us startled and inspired. “Usually human traffickers are from within the local community. As a person covering the theme, I had to keep a low profile during my field visits. Sometimes I could see the traffickers just a few metres away from me, so I have to be mindful of all such perils and be safe. At the same time, I had to make sure that the victim’s family did not face any difficulties or consequences due to my coverage.” Given her perseverance and passion for the field, we asked her if she could talk about photojournalism as a profession. “I am happy to see that young women journalists are aspiring to be photojournalists(smiles). I am mentoring a couple of them and see an earnestness in them to learn. I also get a lot of messages on Instagram from girls wanting to be with me on the field. But somewhere I feel, there’s a notion that our profession is very glamorous — where we just carry our gadgets and get on the road to cover exotic places. But mostly, this is not true. We are many a times at places that are dangerous, unhygienic and uncomfortable,” she tells us. Smita will share more on her book and the creative journey at IPF.

Voices from the world
Many works at IPF will introduce the viewer to various happenings in the world. For one, Latin American photographer Gui Christ will take us to Brazil to highlight how the Afro-religious community stands against religious intolerance there. He tells us about his photographs, “My intention is to combat the prejudice, and through an intimate and enlightening perspective, show my understanding of certain religions and somehow change this panorama in Brazil.”

Capture by Regula Tchumi

On the other front, German photographer Samuel Zuder will take viewers to extreme geographies in his work Face To Faith. Here he documents Mount Kailash, situated on the snow-capped Tibetan Changthang plateau as the origin of faith, in a set of images that capture the serene calmness of the holy mountain. Describing his work, Samuel tells us, “Mount Kailash is seen as a spiritual space in which people subordinate their own selves to a higher, non-human entity, hoping to attain catharsis from its spiritual force centre. My landscape photographs thus serve as metaphors for this encounter between the human and the divine.

Capture by Maude Bardet

Closer home, Indian photographer Surender Solanki’s documentation of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests will present hauntingly graphic images of the impact of a controversial law on its people. Apart from that, Manitoba-based photographer Tim Smith will bring vignettes from the life of a Canadian prairies community called Hutterite whose culture is preserved through deliberate separation from mainstream society. Next we have, American visual artist Debe Arlook’s work on caregiving and French photographer Maude Bardet’s street photography.

Capture by Surender Solanki on CAA

Celebrating India
This season of IPF coincides with India celebrating a stellar 75 years of independence. So the line-up has various frames that celebrate the spirit of India and its people with images showcasing our ethnicity, costumes, festivals, culture, heritage and lifestyle. In that arena, one can look for the exhibit titled Drishti: 75 years of Indian Imagemaking which will show the evolution of India and the process of image-making over the years right from the 1940s to the present. It will have works of 82 eminent photographers from the country who made a mark in genres like art, design, fashion, advertising, documentary, portrait and more. These include stalwarts like Raghu Rai, Altaf Quadri and Bandeep Singh amongst many others.

Photograph by Cop Shiva

Moving on to another set of images — one that celebrates the journey of culinary specialities of India, IPF will display the Rice, Salt and Meat and Spice exhibit. It explores the hyper-local story behind Biryani — a famous rice and meat dish from Hyderabad—from grain to plate through the lens of city-based photographer Kishor Krishnamoorthy. He tells us how he captured the dish that Hyderabadis and the whole world relish, “We travelled across the Telugu-speaking states, from places like Warangal to Kalwakurthy, and Kakinada to Guntur — to cover the source of the raw materials used in Biryani. We discovered that each location had its own speciality with an ingredient. It was fascinating to document the process of making from source to plate.” Some of the other noteworthy exhibits include Heritage Trails which explores the work of students from KVS in Telugu states on the rich cultural heritage of India.

Photograph by Samuel Zuder

Learn from the masters
Photography aficionados can attend insightful workshops from the mavens of photography like Srinivas Kuruganti, Vineet Vohra and Gulnara Samoilova. Srinivas — a Delhi-based photographer is known for his award-winning coverage of environmental and health issues. He will conduct a two-day workshop in visual storytelling and tells us what it will entail, “The workshop will examine various elements of storytelling. The participants will collectively work on building a compelling visual narrative through existing photographs that they bring to the workshop. There will be discussions on different ways to develop and expand on an idea and how to approach a story with an emphasis on editing and sequencing.” For art and fashion lovers, IPF has notable visual artist, filmmaker and photographer Manoj Jadhav who will hold a three-day workshop on fashion and portrait photography.

Capture by Tim Smith

Women power
This season, there will be two displays solely dedicated to showcasing works of women photographers from India and abroad like Lopamudra Talukder, Dimpy Bhalotia, Roshani Shah, Sandra Cattaneo Adorno, and Ximena Echague, among many others. Lopamudra’s photographs especially grab our attention for their social commentary on gender issues.

Photograph by Lopamudra Talukdar 

She tells us about one of her photographs that shows widows in Vrindavan celebrating the festival of Holi, “Hindu marriage is all about colour but all that disappears from a woman’s life when she loses her husband and becomes a widow. Even today, many of them dress in white, cut their hair short, and stay away from society. However, during Holi inVrindavan, the plain life of the Indian widows becomes a riot of colour. At this time, these women celebrate as if there is no tomorrow.” With that, the images from IPF stay in our memory.

From November 18 to December 19 at various venues in Hyderabad.