The Indian Photo Festival goes virtual this year, and will begin with a conversation between master lensmen Raghu Rai and Sebastiao Salgado on November 12
The sixth edition of the Indian Photo Festival (IPF), which has been held in Hyderabad annually since 2015, takes on a virtual hue this year. During the month-long festival from November 12 to December 13, print exhibitions will be on display along the outer walkway of the Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park, Hyderabad, and multimedia exhibitions at the State Gallery of Art, Hyderabad. Artist Talk sessions, workshops and masterclasses will be online (for details and to register, check www.indianphotofest.com).The IPF line-upWorkshops: Editing workshop with Dominique Hildebrand, editor, National Geographic; documenting human rights issues with sensitivity by Smita Sharma; art of travel photography by Abhishek HajelaExhibitions: Among the many exhibitions, look out for images by Harsha Vadlamani, Adam Wiseman and Siegfried Hansen. Documenting the COVID-19 pandemic are T Narayan, Nihal Shanigram and Adnan Abidi.Artist Talks: Habiba Nowrose, Adnan Abidi, Siegfried Hansen, Marcus Cederberg, Adam Wiseman, T Narayan, Vinod Venkapalli, Indrajit Khambe, Ishan Tankha, Gauri Gill, Kamna Patel, Aun Raza, Paula Bronstein, and others.Detailed schedule on www.indianphotofest.com Festival curator Aquin Mathew concedes that while he, like many other photography enthusiasts, will miss the personalised approach of interacting with nationally and internationally reputed photographers during the festival, the virtual edition enables aspiring and emerging photographers from other cities to tune in: “The registrations are open. Those who want to get their work evaluated can register and get portfolio reviews done by photographers from National Geographic.”All eyes on thisOn November 12, 8 pm, septuagenarian master photographers Raghu Rai and Sebastiao Salgado will be in conversation. It took the IPF three years of persuasion to get the Brazilian photographer on board.Speaking over phone, Rai describes Salgado as “a sensitive gentleman and a great human being, not just an excellent photographer of our times”. The 2014 documentary biography film The Salt of The Earth, which won the special prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival’s ‘Un Certain Regard’ section, encapsulates Sebastio’s work across continents.
Rai’s association with the Brazilian photographer goes back to the 1980s when the photography project ‘Workers of the World’ brought Salgado to India. Salgado has stayed with Rai for a week, and the duo discussed life and work.In 2019, Rai was the recipient of the first edition of Académie des beaux-arts Photography Award — William Klein. “I was in Kashmir on work when I got a call from the Academie informing me that I was among the 16 shortlisted photographers. I was told that the jury will screen my portfolios. However, two hours later Salgado, who was on the jury, called to tell me that I won the award,” recalls Rai. Rai travelled to Paris to receive the award. In his address at the event, jury member Salgado stated that he had seen photographs of India taken by him in the late 1960s when he was an economist and had been keen to do photography. “‘This is the kind of photographer I would like to become’ Salgado said, talking about my work. He sounded so humble, genuine,” recalls Rai.
During the IPF session, Rai and Salgado will talk about the changing trends in photography and why young photographers need to take a meditative approach to capturing images rather than seek instant gratification. There will be insights into photography from their respective careers that span more than five decades. The session will also discuss Salgado’s work as an environmentalist. Salgado and his wife Lelia undertook reforestation on their family-owned farmland Instituto Terra in Brazil. The sustained reforestation drive has reportedly helped turn 600 hectares of pasture land into a biodiverse forest area. “I want to know what this farmland and the people who work there, mean to him,” says Rai.Stark, poignant capturesBangladesh photographer Abir Abdullah will lead an Artist Talk session on November 16, 8 pm, along with a three-day masterclass. As principal of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, he had begun conducting online classes for the photojournalism course when the pandemic set in. “The online masterclass is designed in a way that it gives students the scope to do research, peer discussions and reviews along with the main presentation,” he says.
Abir is known for documentary photography, which he terms as the “core genre to expressing my statements about the world and especially marginalised people and their stories”. He will focus on documentary photography as a potential tool to educate, inform and make people aware of the lives of others. Abir’s images have captured many a crisis, including the aftermath of the collapse of the eight-storeyed Rana Plaza where thousands of workers were engaged in garment manufacturing. The pictorial stories in black and white are a telling statement of the conditions in which the employees tried to earn a living. “Black white gives an abstract impression of a difficult scene or situation.”Abir prefers to narrate sensitive stories in black and white: “Black white gives an abstract impression of a difficult scene or situation; black and white also lasts longer in the memory of the readers,” he reasons.