By Ruma Saha
Kolkata: Pandemic has impacted every sector of media, and the world of photography is no exception. In the Day 9th of #MEDIANEXT online conclave organized by Adamas University, Kolkata, photographers from different fields tried to explore to the young students about the changes and challenges in the field of photography in digital times.
9th Day has speakers ranging from eminent photojournalists to award-winning photographers. The webinar started with Kounteya Sinha, a prominent award-winning photojournalist and former editor of Times of India, London, and Europe. Sinha was followed by Dr. Tabeenah Anjum Quereshi, an award-winning photographer, visual storyteller, a journalist from Rajasthan. The third speaker in the webinar was Rajeev Bhatt, senior photojournalist of “THE HINDU” who has more than thirty years of experience in the field of news and sports photography. The fourth speaker Sudeep Mehta is an eminent award-winning photographer whose work is often published by “National Geography,” “Huffington Post,” “Digital Photography Review,” “Smithsonian Magazine,” etc. to name a few. Mehta has also founded “Worldwide Photoworks” and “Green World Productions.” The last speaker of the Day was Prof. Subrata Roy Chowdury, a documentary photographer and head of the Department of Photography in Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandir, Belur Math. The moderator of the session was Dr. Amit Chawla, HOD, Department of Mass Communication, Sharda University, Greater Noida.
Adamas University organizes the online conclave of #MEDIANEXT, Kolkata, in association with Sharda University, DME, Birla Global University, AIMEC, and media partner of this conclave are Lok Samvad Sansthan, Exchange4Media, ABP Education, IndiaReal.in, It is a ten days long online mega-media conclave starting from June 1st to June 10th, 2020. In each day of the conclave focuses on a particular domain of media and entertainment industry and analyzes the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on that domain by the experts.
On June 9th, 2020 the webinar started with Kounteya Sinha, a senior photojournalist, former editor of “The Times of India,” London and Europe. He is known to be a globally revered photographer and visual storyteller. Sinha started his session with a different note by discussing possible certainty of the future in the photography field, even though COVID -19 pandemic has created havoc in every media domain. He advises the students to focus on how to adapt to changing times to survive and conquer in any profession. Sinha advised the student to look for the story and break a story. He added that it does not matter whether it is published in a newspaper or digitally. Sinha encourages the students to search for incredible stories around them and never stop narrating them to the world through any possible medium.
Sinha further relates his experience as a photojournalist and how he began his celebrated project “Bismillah,” which focused on the life of a common man in Kashmir. Through these photographs, he told a story about the life of a common man in Kashmir and how it is devastated with constant instability of geopolitics and terrorist attack. He talks about his journey to Kashmir for his project. He has presented the audience with enthralling views of images of Kashmir through his project “Bismillah.” Further advised the students to utilize the present time for upgrading their skills and prepare to face a world full of opportunity for skilled graduates.
Dr. Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi is a national award-winning visual storyteller, author, and a journalist who has reported for Deccan Herald, Rajasthan Patrika, DNA newspaper. She is born and brought up in Kashmir. She is the second speaker in the Day 9th of #Media Next conclave. In her session, she started with the focus of discussion in how visuals create a long-lasting memory and relate it to visuals during COVID-19 Pandemic in India in the photographers’ eye. She has shown many popular photos during pandemic taken by a different photographer; some are journalist others are anonymous photographer sharing COVID -19 plight in India of Indian from different places.
Tabeenah Anjum Qureshi did an enthralling visual story-telling of COVID-19 through her presentation and tried to show different aspects of this pandemic lockdown. The images are so keen to tell the story of the pandemic that no captions are required. She decided to explore at the digital audience of webinars the different emotions captured by different photojournalists and also by herself as visual storytellers at the time of the COVID pandemic. Through each visual, she has shown “what are the situations going on around us.” She also showed some photographs taken by her while she was covering stories of “migrant plights.”
In this session, Qureshi advised the students that if they are to get into the profession of photojournalism, then they must maintain personal safety and hygiene. As a photojournalist, she advised the budding photojournalist to carry disinfectant spray for camera kit, hand sanitizers while going to cover any outdoor assignment. Qureshi also encouraged them to use a zoom lens and telephoto lens to take photographs of subjects and maintain social distancing. She wrapped her session on a beautiful note. Qureshi noted that despite all negativity of COVID visuals, there are silver lining visible through nature’s day-to-day functioning. She says, “nothing has changed in sunrise or sunsets and birds chirping around.”
The next speaker of the Day was Rajeev Bhatt, a senior photojournalist of “THE HINDU” having over thirty years of experience in covering news and sports events in India and abroad. Bhatt advises the budding photojournalists and students on various essential skills required to become a successful sports photographer and news photographer. For faculty, he suggests that during COVID pandemic time, it is a wonderful attempt to take classes over online medium.
It was an interesting interactive session where Bhatt showed some of his works as a photojournalist who covered war, riot, COVID pandemic, Amphan, sports, etc. He said that it is necessary to have basic knowledge of photography, then the only online short-time course is beneficial. He advocated the students to take photographs randomly, and then they will develop a sense of story-telling. According to him, a camera is just a tool, but one needs to have passion and skill for story-telling. One can make several mistakes and learn from it as photography is a “skilled-profession.”
The next speaker in the webinar was Sudeep Mehta. He is a young and dynamic globally acclaimed photographer who has received 15 international awards for his photography and has 12 exhibitions abroad. Mehta is a regular national geographic publishing photographer, and his works are also published in Digital Photography Review, Huffington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, On Being, JPG Magazine, and many more. He is the founder and director of “Green World Productions” and “Worldwide Photoworks.” He is also associated with teaching budding photographers to horn their skills.
In the seminar, Mehta talked about the immediate impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the photographic industry. He also explored to youngsters the job opportunities in the field of photography at the international level. Mehta advised the students to make the moment useful and also adapt to overcome challenges of the time. He urged the students to grow as a brand and send their works randomly to all editors or publishing houses, and this is how one gets connected with an international publishing house. He explored the scope and future of stock photography to the students and related his experience as a stock photographer. He encouraged students to take random photos wherever they are. After hundreds of clicks, they will develop a sense of story-telling.
Mehta talked about how COVID pandemic and lockdown have created a down surge in the photography industry, especially in events and wedding photography industry. Despite this, he urges young budding photographers not to stop clicking photos, and they can use it to develop themselves as the brand for the industry. Though Mehta didn’t show any of his images, his power-packed words are great boast to budding photographers and students.
The last speaker is Prof. Subrata Roy Chowdhury, Head of the Department of Photography, Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandir, Belur Math., West Bengal. He is also an award-winning documentary photographer who covered several stories. Prof. Roy Chowdhury talked on various threats and challenges for photographers in the time of COVID-19 pandemics. Through his presentation, he tried to show the equation between paintings with photography and understanding both from an artistic point of view.
Prof. Roy Chowdhury also connected photography with philosophy and how that is applicable in journalism. Through his presentation, he showed some recent famous photographs of the COVID pandemic throughout the world. He encourages the students to develop the thinking process before capturing the image with any camera. A camera is just a tool, according to him, and he advised the student to practice visualizing the perception that they are going to capture. He gave these tips for becoming a successful documentary photographer or any visual storyteller.
The Day ended in a very satisfying note from the end of the audience. The audience has got the opportunity to acquire knowledge from the experts or rather connoisseur of the field of photography. Interactivity with experts by the audience during their session made the webinar engaging from both ends.