Featured Artist : Nadirah Zakariya

Solo photography exhibitions are rare in Malaysia, but there is one happening right now on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur at Temu House, a private event space. Nadirah Zakariya is a friend, colleague and fellow artist and I’m gutted for not being able to attend her first major solo. Feeling Feelings Makes Me, Me is a collection of recent and new works by this artist extraordinaire, who literally pours her heart out and gives 110% in everything she does, which I can personally vouch for.

Not really a review but an overview from a distance, the exhibition stars all her lockdown-inspired floral studies which are stunning and already well known internationally, as featured in the 2022 Flora Photographica publication by Thames & Hudson and in European Photography 107/108 Magazine 2020.

There are over 40 works distinctly split into three narratives, the first being floral arrangements and close-up studies in various forms, and the second series is self-expressive hand portraits bedecked with colourful sequins and jewels that are an exploration of her coming to terms with vitiligo. It is the third series, Andartu, (consisting of I to IV henna and jawi-decorated hand-palm portraits ornamentally framed with floral decor and beads from wedding shops I found to be most intriguing and revealing in Nadirah’s thought processes putting up this solo, I feel. Again, it’s the ‘feeling’ that viewers will see, but her innermost thoughts are outwardly expressed in these pieces.

“Art is a process, honour the process, the journey matters too” holds true in her work.

Do pay the exhibition a visit as it’s expertly displayed and no doubt visitors will be surprised by the entire sensorial production. Don’t miss it!


Feeling Feelings Makes Me, Me : Solo Exhibition runs from 6 – 28 May, 2023

Venue : TEMU HOUSE 49, Jalan 16/9e, Seksyen 16, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

@temuhouse @nadirah.feelingfeelings

All images courtesy @AllIsAmazing

Featured Artist : Valentin Goppel

Like waiting for the proverbial London red buses, sometimes they come in twos at once, and here is my second Featured Artists post in a week! Whilst still fresh from my visit to the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in Wetzlar last week, I thought I’d write about Valentin Goppel’s (b.2000) winning series “Between The Years”. Valentin was awarded the LOBA2022 Newcomer Award of a Leica Q2 and 10,000 Euros and I’m so glad to have met with him and listen to his answers at the press conference.

“Between The Years” is a photo project that started out of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 when many nations and cities, including Germany declared lock-downs on its population. Valentin photographed the daily lives of his friends and explores how the pandemic affected them, and himself, and how their future had been effectively put on hold, the affects of uncertainty from normal activities to one of boredom and routine.

“If I can’t do justice to an objective truth, then maybe a subjective truth. So, in the end, I tried to capture by own perceptions of recent years, with all the means that I have in front of the camera.”

SL : I read that you used a Pentax 645D camera for your series. How much did the format of the camera influence the way you photographed?

VG : The Pentax is a very slow and bulky camera, it affected my approach by its sheer impossibility to do proper snapshots. So it slowed me down, making me be even more concentrated on finding the right way to break down the scene.

SL : How much harder (or easier) was it to photograph your friends and family, as opposed to strangers in the way you did, as an observer and a participant.

VG : Knowing that I can only picture my own reality, taking pictures of my friends was a lot easier than photographing strangers. It was especially helpful- because picturing my friends showed me I was not alone with the hardships of the pandemic. The only difficult thing about photographing the known surroundings is to still see them as special.

Over the last 2 years, I have seen many photo projects on the effects of the pandemic – the isolation images, vacant urban scapes, lonely figures shot through windows. or experimental self-portraits. “Between The Years” is a young photographer’s attempt to ‘square his circle’ and come to terms with the rising pessimism for the future especially in the youth of today. By being a participatory concerned observer in his series his images become subjective and at times, some of his pictures were staged or reenacted. I find this approach interesting – many photographers often stage still life or fashion portraits – but this series poses an important question about what is essentially and artistic environmental portrait project as opposed to photo documentary work. Valentine acknowledges that :

“I have doubts about the possibility of photography being objective. Knowing that my perception is very subjective, and that claiming to photograph a work that universally captures the experiences of an entire generation is something I can’t possibly live up to, I eventually distanced myself from this claim. The project quickly became more subjective; in the meantime, it has primarily become a way to process my own feelings from these recent years. Luckily, many people also recognise themselves in it.”

Quote from https://www.leica-oskar-barnack-award.com/en/winners/newcomer-2022-valentin-goppel.html

Valentin’s series has a closeness to it, the portraits are intimate and also casual but well composed and lighted, and the LOBA jury loved it. I concur.


Featured Artist : Kiana Hayeri

Kiana Hayeri (b.1988) is an Iranian descent Canadian photographer living in Kabul, Afghanistan. She has just been awarded the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2022 (LOBA) which started in 1979, rewarding work that deals with the relationship between human beings and their environment.

Her series Promises Written On The Ice, Left In The Sun is a result of her stay in Afghanistan over the last 8 years and centres around the daily lives of women and girls living under the conditions of war and of Taliban rule, since the hasty retreat of US and Western forces following the overthrow of the government in 2021. Her images from this series are hard hitting but tender in their depicting of suffering and the perseverance of the human spirit facing conflict ad destruction, and offers an insight into the current situation in Afghanistan, where daily survival is a struggle between the imposed restrictions on women in Taliban rule and the longing for a better future.

At the press conference at Wetzlar, Kiana said she doesn’t feel optimistic about the future of the country, despite the end of the war after the takeover by the Taliban. Violence and resistance groups are beginning to show their presence around the country.

Hafiza (70) reveals an open wound on her throat; a wound that doctors believe is caused by grief. Badakhshan, April 8, 2021. Four of Hafiza’s sons opted for different paths: they joined the army, the Taliban, or an anti-Taliban militia
In a local school that was set up by a teacher in the village of Hussain Khel, 25 high school girls cram together, everyday, to make the most out of the few hours of schooling. September 12, 2019
In the basement of an unfinished mosque, women mourn daughters and sisters killed in an attack. May 9, 2021. The powerful explosions, in the morning in front of a high school, killed at least 90 people, and injured a further 150. Many were teenage girls who were just coming out of class

“Afghanistan is still a country with open wounds that is struggling to heal”

During class at a school in the village of Khandood in the Wakhan Corridor, a girl whispers in her classmate’s ear. Wakhan, December 1, 2020. In Afghanistan, a largely traditional and conservative society, girls and boys are strictly separated, when they reach puberty
Nafas (20), who killed her husband, socialises with their cellmates and other incarcerated women. Herat, April 1, 2019. At the age of twelve, she had been made the second wife of an addicted and abusive man
With Kiana Hayeri at the Leica Gallery Wetzlar, October 2022

More about Kiana’s work can be seen at :




Featured Artist : Katsumi Saiki

A few years back I exchanged prints with Katsumi Saiki. I love this black and white photograph from his 2012 Midsummer Nights series, which is now hanging on my wall. The Shakespearean reference aside, this image depicts a dystopian world we now live in, with environmental concerns, isolation and longing.

The multilayered stories that can be depicted in a relatively simple photograph was what excited me and got me into photography as a teenager. It’s still magic.

Print exchange is a great way to acquire and collect photography, and expand your own collection of photographs that you personally like, without the anxiety of investing your own funds.

Featured Artist : Patricia Krivanek

#NoRightToExist is an on-going photo project by Canadian-Mexican photographer Patricia Krivanek.

Being stateless and having no identity simply does not cross the minds of the majority of peoples around the world, and when Patricia befriended Laila and Siti about 6 months ago, she knew she had to tell their story. There are many Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia, and aided by private organisations and charities.

Laila and Siti have no right to exist. Before they were born, their parents fled their home country of Myanmar and landed in Malaysia, a country which is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not grant legal status to refugees, including their Malaysian born children. Along with their parents, Laila and Siti have been denied one of the most fundamental rights upon which all other rights depend.

Caught between two cultures – never completely accepted in either.”

Without a nationality, these young women have been robbed of their rights to identification, education, healthcare, employment, and freedom of movement. In other words, they have never had any rights.
This project portrays two sisters and their unconventional, but not uncommon, refugee story that does not include a journey of any kind.

Second-generation refugees have a different experience than their parents. Language and cultural barriers dissolve, but with them, so does a sense of identity and community. Caught between two cultures – never completely accepted in either – they only have each other.

The aim of Patricia’s project is to generate greater empathy and understanding of the refugee crisis through a long-term lens. While most mainstream media coverage portrays harrowing journeys and struggle to integrate into new societies, it is not often that we get to know the challenges they face down the line, for them, their children, or their children’s children.

Unfortunately, Malaysia is not unique in the region. With nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees scattered
throughout South and Southeast Asia, countries such as Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, India and
Pakistan are also not signatories to the Refugee Convention. The persecution of Rohingya people within Myanmar continues to this day as does the deep sense of exclusion towards refugees in the region, which has only intensified with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. With no physical community, social media is one of the spaces the sisters can inhabit to express themselves and create their own identities.

They carefully choose their wardrobe and makeup and spend their time self-directing their photoshoots throughout the city of Kuala Lumpur. Creating ‘insta-stories’ and posts connect them to a world beyond their reality. Here, they join other young women of their generation in a land that allows them to dream, create and project.

Laila and Siti exist here.

The way the sisters use social media inspired the framework for telling their stories. Some of the images in this series were developed and directed by Laila and Siti themselves, giving them a voice in the representation of their own identity – the very thing they have been robbed of in other aspects of their
lives. Through the universal visual language of social media, we can reframe our understanding of
refugees by removing the element of ‘otherness’ and enhancing the element of ‘sameness’.
We can see them as they wish to be seen.

Patricia Krivanek is currently based in Malaysia, and has a background in anthropology and humanitarian relief. She has lived and worked in over 17 countries. Through her photography, she seeks to highlight
stories that speak to the human experience with the goal of generating empathy through a form of visual anthropology. Patricia’s images have been exhibited in international exhibitions including Edition 365 with the British Journal of Photography and Exposure+ Photo in Kuala Lumpur. In 2021, one of her images was selected as a finalist for the Canon Malaysia Award in the Kuala Lumpur Photoawards 2021.



Featured Artist : Keita Tokuda

I came across the black and white images of the Penan people taken by Keita Tokuda on Instagram last year and it captured my attention somewhat. Another Japanese photographer who spend many weeks and months documenting the daily lives of a vanishing nomadic tribe in the interior of a Malaysian jungle is certainly worth a look.

In 2016 I posted Mitsu Maeda‘s intimate colour photographs of a similar Penan community in Sarawak where the issue of over logging and a controversial construction of a dam had led her into the interior to document the tribe affected by these activities.

In Tokuda’s case, what led him to a closer encounter with the Penan’s was simply a personal discovery of their nomadic lifestyle and a quest to understand if forced development and urbanising a transitional lifestyle is justified in the name of progress and modernisation. Is it a better solution to provide aid but retain their nomadic existence. Is this even possible where the modern financial incentives of logging encroaches into their land?

Tokuda’s photographs are documentary, straightforward and unpretentious. Clearly his hosts were comfortable in his presence. That is what make them so natural and unforced.

His images of the community and the surrounding scenery show a tranquil and idyllic way of life, from a visitor’s gaze in most respect. The harsh reality of nomadic living, hunting, and clearing for existence may not be evident from his photographs and yet there is some romantic notion in them – as Tokuda mentioned in his statement – he, a Japanese, coming from one of the world’s most technological and modern societies – how can he justify whether the Penans should leave their traditional ways and adopt contemporary modern lifestyles?

This dialectical conversation is a constant reminder to outsiders that we have to conserve and preserve, yet modernisation is also seen as progressive and inevitable.

Q&A with Keita Tokuda, August 2021

Q. What made you leave Japan in 2006 to go to visit South East Asia?
Keita : There is a program in my photography school in Tokyo. Students travel to 9 or 10 countries in South East Asia for six months, so I traveled to many countries in the region when I was 21 as a student in 2006. That unforgettable experience opened my door to explore the world.

Q. How did you learn about the Penan tribe in East Malaysia?
Keita : When I lived in Petaling Jaya in Malaysia, I traveled all over Malaysia, both in Semenanjung and Borneo. I met a man who used to be a teacher in the Bidayuh community close to Kuching, and he taught me about the Penan tribe when I asked him I wanted to go to visit the rainforest. In those days I met so many cultural changing situations especially in small tribal communities and I witnessed so many deforestations. These events made me want to go to meet more ‘organic’ indigenous people and to see what went on in the rainforest.

Q. How did you make initial contact with the tribe and get access to them?
Keita : When I searched the internet about the Penan tribe to find out who supported them, I found an NGO. I sent a message to Dominic Langat who worked at the Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative, SIANI, to help them in Sarawak. He took me to stay with the Ba Puak community.

Q. How long did you spend on the project and how many times did you visit?
Keita : I visited the Ba Puak community twice. Each visit, I spent almost two weeks with them on my own.

Q. What did you do with your pictures? Did you exhibit them?
Keita : I did some group exhibitions about the Penan in NYC which is where I am now based, and I exhibited my work in Art Expo NYC. I tried to contact some Malaysian publications but the editors told me they could not publish my pictures as they are deemed political in some ways. I hope I will have more chances to publish or exhibit my photography in Malaysia.

Q. How do you wish you could help their situation?
Keita : Their lifestyle changes rapidly so some children do not go to the rainforest like their parents did. However, I cannot say they should conserve their beautiful culture in the rainforest and they should keep living in forest with ancient hunting techniques. I hope I can publish their changing lifestyles to people in the outside and be aware of a disappearing culture. It might be sad for the beautiful lifestyle to slowly vanish, but it may help them progress with a conventional modern lifestyle.

Q. What is your plan for the years ahead in photography and will you return to Malaysia?
Keita : After the Covid 19 pandemic, I hope I will be able revisit the Ba Puak community to see what changes they have endured. I hope I will be able to have a chance to support their new lifestyle in the rainforest. Some people do not care about old nomadic ways but “who you are is what your identity is” so I hope they can know how beautiful they are through my photography.

If I have a chance, I will definitely return to Malaysia to live again because Malaysia is my second home !


Bruno Cattani : Eros & Memorie


I had the pleasure of acquiring not one, but two photography books from Italian photographer Bruno Cattani last November at the Photolux Festival in Lucca. So much has happened since my rained soaked weekend in the beautiful walled city of Lucca where Puccini was born, and I was recently reminded gently by the gentleman, Mr Cattani, if I could give him my views on his books.

With the current lockdown in the UK due to the pandemic, and with ample ‘lounging-around’ moments throughout the days (weeks and even months ahead…) I finally got to look at, and into – the photographs in these publications.

Not often, I find myself so intrigued in fine-art photography – especially in book form, since most of my recent acquisitions were documentary works  (see Road to recovery : Noriko Takasugi & Catalina Nucera). Documentary works inform and illustrate stories told by their authors – of distant lands, events and peoples, their struggles, their celebrations and their encounters.

Eros, 2018 and Memorie, 2014 do not do that. However, they evoke feelings and emotions, sometimes repressed and locked away in one’s mind.


Eros is a collection of detailed black and white studies of marble figures. In Europe, these decorate the internals of churches, in public spaces and museums in all their splendour, magnificence and artistry, as common as can be. However, Bruno’s pictures capture the sensuality and erotism in their depiction of the often accentuated female and male forms made more pronounced by detailed lighting, texture and composition, which is his signature style in this series.  Ambiguous representation of marble or flesh? Figurative depiction or human skin? Abstraction or true form. Seeing beyond what is present in the shapes and shadows. The human body fascinates me, all the same.

Some of these thoughts will surely cross a viewer’s mind, as they did with me. Translucence is the emotive phrase I am thinking. Of mind, body and spirit, where clarity and opaqueness meld into each other.

Sometimes, we encounter an image, a sound or smell that triggers our hidden memories and they become as clear as the present day. Looking at some of the photographs in Memorie did just that for me. Even as I have not lived in or visited the city of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, as the collection in this book depicts, it acts like a proxy trigger to similar places and experiences I have experienced in my years living in Europe.

That’s why I love this book so much as the scenes, some mundane and private only to the author, allows the viewer an insight to the personal encounters and memories of the photographer and at the same time gives me an opportunity to rediscover my past experiences too. More than feelings.

Contact the photographer for more information here :


Road to recovery : Noriko Takasugi & Catalina Nucera

In 2019, I acquired two photography books directly from the photographers, which I seldom do nowadays due simply to the lack of shelve space. Each book is produced in different parts of the world : the first in Japan, exquisitely self printed and hand bound, with special paper and a gold and black patterned hard cover, with only 66 copies produced. The photographer, Noriko Takasugi has titled her object as ‘Fukushima Samurai, The Story of Identity’  and has painstakingly assembled over 100 of her photographs together to commemorate the ancient traditions of the modern samurai following the radiation-hit region of Fukushima Prefecture in 2011, more specifically, in Minamisoma City.

The second acquisition was at Lucca, Italy, where I was reviewing portfolios at the Photolux Festival. Catalina Isabel Nucera is an accomplished photographer and aide worker who spent many years in the Belarus city of Kirov, less than 100 kms from Chernobyl. She has produced a book titled The Village, which has a fluorescent pink screen-printed cover and a collection of found images and her photographs of Soviet-era estates, interiors, and public spaces of Kirov, interspersed with local families living there and found vintage photographs school children, playgrounds and factory workers.

Both books hold a unique shared perspective – that is, the compelling visual references by the photographers to record and document, and hence to archive, the post-destruction and recovery aspects following similar disasters, 25 years apart, nuclear fallouts that completely wiped out the populations of these cities through evacuation and radiation illness.

It is interesting for me to compare their approaches and note the differences in the processes and portrayal of the recoveries in two very different regions of the world, between two different cultural backgrounds and practices.  Noriko’s contemporary portraits of modern samurais posing in front of their cherished landscapes in full costumes, shows determination and stoicism, is typical of the Japanese persona. Catalina’s less formal style, often sharply observed and casually composed is less, but nevertheless affords the viewer a realistic glimpse of what life was really like in a typical city in the 80s in the Soviet Union.



For more information :

Noriko Takasugi – Fukushima Samurai



Catalina Isabel Nucera – The Village


Featured Artist : Liza Ambrossio

Journey to Rome ~ Traversing the ominous to conquer the darkness

(You know what they say about London buses, wait for one and three turns up. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to feature three amazing photographers recently, and this is the third.)

Donning a baseball cap and wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, she smiled and said hello to me at the Camucia-Cortona train station. She was the only person smiling in the 30c heat, and introduced herself. Then I recall seeing her at the Cortona-On-The-Move festival but apologised that I had not talked with her during the last three days. She showed me her photo book The Rage of Devotion, a recent winner at Arles, and it clicked. This is Liza Ambrossia. Our journey to Rome took slightly longer than 2 and a half hours, so we chatted about her awards, projects, her book and about life in general. She was also trying to arrange accommodation in Rome at the same time. She kindly offered me plums from her landlady’s garden.


Q. You have just completed your ‘festival’ tour in Europe where you have been awarded a couple of major prizes, the FNAC Talent Award 2018 for your series Blood Orange and also at Arles, scooping the best photobook prize from the Voies Off Awards with The Rage of Devotion. I’d like to wish you many congratulations on receiving these prizes. Thank you for saying hello to me at Camucia-Cortona railway station and showing me your book, otherwise, I would not have discovered your wonderful work!

The success of your works depends on the amazing esoteric imagery that you produce, and the non-linear approach to editing your projects into fantastic, almost dream-like stories. How do you inspire yourself to create these images? Do you have a set formula following the story outline, or do you make the images randomly and put together at a later stage?

LA : Free association is the key to my line of work, a psychological process that gives independence to creativity in a mental state of emancipation directly related to the emotional state of the person who practices it. What we manage to retain from life not only from photography has to do with three essential points according to my criteria, what can be seen, what we want to see and what is revealed to us. To this I adhere structures of my contradictory personality: ease to live and radical when it comes to projecting stories.


Q: During our two and a half hour train ride to Rome, we chatted about many things – UFO’s, chupacabras, demons, death, eagles, snails, narco killings, Manila, Marcos, about your childhood and the scholarship you gained in Spain. Your influences to your work are clearly derived from many experiences and circumstances in your life and travels, growing up in Mexico and Spain. However, the overall theme of your works is about identity, longing and a sense of regret, I feel. Is there any truth in this, and are your photographs a sort of self-reflection or examination of your personal journey as an artist, always in search of the unreachable?

LA : Extraordinary memory yours, my dear friend … But I must emphasize that from my perspective my work does not speak of repentance; but speaks of revenge, of madness, of the monstrous thing that lives in our souls and how to reach freedom after destroying the universe in which chance has placed us (family, religion, homeland, name or physical). I intend for my work to be what I am as a person, someone who believes that social structures are a drag on imagination and growth. My work talks about what I have lived, suffered, loved, hated, dreamed and desired. I am not afraid to speak with my images of my dark, comedic or immoral inclinations. My ambition is to achieve the greatest freedom that the religion of art can give me.



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Q. You write that ‘reality is overrated and fantasy underrated…”. The imagery of your works can be said to be ‘Lynch-ian’ in some respects, even nightmarish. eg. the arm with snails, the eagle eating the frail hatchling, and the numerous masked faces in The Rage. Is there a sense that you wish to provoke a reaction, any reaction from your viewers, that leads them to question your work or the images are purely to illustrate the concepts that you have to tell your story effectively, (ie. not caring about your viewers).

LA : Artists like me are beings led by demons and we are aware that these demons also observe us (the spectators). I like to write, make videos, images, tell stories, talk to strangers, the football and travel like a dog without a house as if I did not have tomorrow. I am an extremely passionate and passionate person for love and hate, to celebrate and to desolate, to live. I grew up in an atmosphere of chaos and exhausted my childhood and adolescence in that triangle of self-destruction; I currently know that there are many images that I already have inside and when I find them I collect them knowing that I am showing my demons. Demons with the ability to scare or fascinate.

Q. You also write that you are searching for the ‘transgressive aesthetic of the strange and the ‘every day’. I think you have succeeded in many ways, looking at your works in Blood Orange and The Rage. What is your next project and will you continue with this aesthetic, or perhaps go in a new direction altogether?

LA : My aesthetic continues to grow and is increasingly derived from film and short films because it is a language in which I recognize myself more. Although I will continue to make photobooks. My next project will talk about another dark moment in my life, suicide a personal complex because my father committed it and I could address it in a different way by living a few weeks in Switzerland two years ago when I discovered that deciding to die is a legal and even possible human right to pay. So I’m generating an optimistic opinion around the subject, in a project that will not take long to hang on my website more than a couple of months.


LIZA AMBROSSIO, Rome Termini, July 2018 © Steven Lee



(B. in Mexico City, Mexico) Liza Ambrossio is a Mexican artist who lives and produces in Madrid, Spain. Winner of Voies Off award 2018 prize of the photography meetings in Arles, France, she is the winner of the FNAC New Talent Award, Spain, 2018; and the Discoveries award 2017 of the PHotoEspaña festival and La Fábrica. Her body of work mixes macabre archive photographs with cryptic paintings, performance, intervention, videos, psychology, nightmares, science fiction and witchcraft that unites by free association.

Liza’s work has been published on the network of Center of the image (Mexico City), Fototazo (Colombia-United States), Espacio Gaff (Mexico-Venezuela) and L’Oil de la Photographie (France). Liza has been granted a scholarship to study production residences in Iceland and the United States (2017). She has been selected as a finalist in the 50 best young promises of the Emerging Talent of Lens Culture 2016 in Amsterdam, Holland and selected in New Visions 2018 of the Cortona On The Move festival, Italy. In March 2018 she presented her first photo book ‘The anger of devotion’ (The Rage of Devotion) edited by Desiertas Ediciones (México) and La Fabrica (Spain) within the Fotofest of Houston, Texas, United States.

Featured Artist : Ranita Roy

An inquisitive mind.

Ranita Roy is a young photographer who aspires to be a photojournalist. Based in West Bengal, India she is constantly seeking out social issue stories – education, poverty, flood, environment to document.  Already having a string of accolades, awards, and publications after her name, she strives to have her most deserved works seen. I asked her a few questions recently, most notably about her black & white projects, which I feel are her strongest and most accomplished. Her work is mature and filled with emotion.


Q. When did you first discover photography and its ability to tell stories?

Since my childhood, I liked the camera. Numerous times I played with my father’s camera. Be as it may, I never thought I wanted to be a photographer or turn out to be extremely enthusiastic about photography. When I was in college, amidst a discouraging time, one day I left my home with a compact camera and began shooting, and I understood that it gave me a certain delight and helped me to overcome that circumstance. From that point onwards, photography turned into a sort of contemplation for me and became part of my life.

Since I started photography, for one year I was trying every genre, but somehow I realized that photographing in the street is challenging and I started to focus on photographing regular people in exaggerated situations that highlighted aspects of who they are. Later, I started to following documentary photographers and their works and found this genre to be a powerful medium to show reality with artistry. Gradually, my interest grew in narrative photography.


Q. What was your very first project?

My very first project was photographing backstage of a drama play. But it was not planned and it happened within a fraction of second’s decision. Reaching the stage to look around, I found that work backstage, behind the scene, was very interesting.  I thought the images could also be a story for the performers.

But as a first planned project, I must tell you about Chhordima, my grandmother. Ever since my childhood, I witnessed her pain, sorrow, joy, excitement and enthusiasm. How positively she lived with all sorts of social restrictions. I learn from her.


Q. Who are your influences in art and photography?

It’s very difficult for me to name a single person. There are many people who has influenced me a great deal. It is not only from photography, but also in filmmaking, documentaries, and painters. I am inspired by Satajit Ray, Stanley Kubrick, Ritwik Ghatak, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Vittorio De Sica etc. In photography, I can say, Lynsey Addario, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ron Haviv, Raghu Rai, Kevin Carter, Alex Webb, Raghubir Singh, Ren Hang and many more.

I would like to name Sudipta Chakraborty, my photography mentor, whose continuous support has helped me a lot. I am inspired by his works.

Q. How do you identify a story to pursue?

Actually, I go to search out the burning issues. The issues that need special immediate attention. Firstly,  I decide on the story, and then begin gathering research and data on that particular issue. After analysing the data, later I visit the place, do a recce. Then I plan for the shoots. The duration of preparation for the story depends on the subject matter. For the floods, it was planned on ahead of time and I start shooting immediately when it happens. As most of the issues I deal with are on long-term basis, I always get time to prepare for the next level of shooting. For child labour stories, it took a lot of time to cover, as I had to keep in mind the political, administrative and local issues.



From Upanayanam


Q. How much research do you do before you set out on your projects?

I have already replied in my previous answer. After identifying the story, I first collect data and information from the internet. I also try to search for the reports and news of that story to understand how much has already been covered. The next phase, I generally visit those places a couple of times to understand the scenario and prepare my approach. For stories which need immediate action, I directly visit those places and start shooting at the same time during my recce, to determine what are the major issues there and if possible, I may stay back there or make continuous visits.

Q. You have achieved a great deal in terms of awards and recognition, and also have worked published internationally. How do you reach out to these organizations and what which genre of photography would you like to see yourself getting into further?

Generally, I receive enquiries through the mail from those organizations. They get to know my work from either my website or from the contest pages, where my story or images were published.

I have grown interested in narrative photography and I would like to work as a photojournalist.

Q. I especially like your two black and white series – Upanayanam and Chhordima. They are very intimately photographed portraits with strong visuals, and the images tell the stories very well. These stories are truly unique and deserve more exposure. Why did you use B&W for these?

I could make both series in color but I chose black & white just because I would like to show the varying shades of only two colours, black and white. In Chhordima, as you read the story, the lady crossed many hurdles and restrictions of society in her life. Thus I wanted to contrast positivity & negativity, by using these two ‘shades’.  In Upanayanam also I used black and white to show the transformation of a Brahmin boy, from his colourful childhood, he enters into a very strict disciplined life, where he can visualize the future paths of life. The rays indicate the positive ways for him and black & white referred to the very simple, straightforward and strict disciplined life he entered into.