Monday, January 16, 2012

Indian Photojournalism loses its Heavy Weight

Homai Vyarawalla, widely acknowledged as India’s first woman photojournalist passed away at Vadodara on Sunday 15 Jan, 2012 she was 98.

Homai Vyarawalla at Work (Creative Commons via Flickr)

I particularly enjoy this above photograph of her,
as seen clearly she was ‘the man amongst the boys’ an irritated Homai is directing other chaotic male photojournalists into some order & semblance during a photo shoot with Indian Prime minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi.(& also kudos to the photographer who made the picture for capturing the candid moment.inspiring.)

In this interesting Documentary about her , she lovingly talks about her versatile Rolliflex and numerous angles you can work with it , a detailed demo on how to use a Speed Graphic, her f1.5 contax lens ! and numerous super interesting anecdotes on being a female photojournalist ……..

Notice her love for all things Photography, seen just behind her in the interview, what looks like a Berlebach wooden tripod which she uses as a flower pot stand!

Her funny side;
‘…in those days girls were not supposed to even carry a handbag…if noticed people would ask “Are you going out to give someone a haircut!! And I was carrying a camera and all accessories around my neck……as opposed to girls of other religions I could even walk the streets at night….. Being a Parsi helped, people thought Parsis could do anything (….read crazy)!’

& it’s heartening to know that
as Homai recounts…”In those days painting was not as viable as photography…I could earn more as a photographer than being a painter..”
(oh...the Times they are a changin' now)

Those were the times of camaraderie…….”It was freezing the middle of the night I heard a colleague photojournalist whose was not having space to sleep ……I called Mastram are you there… can come over here, there is lots of space here,……you sleep under the bed and I will sleep on it. (laughs)

& some wisdom....“I can only tell you that….. we had control of our Manual cameras….and these modern automatic cameras....they have control over you.”

……many wise words. A MUST watch. Highly recommended

Some of her images & interview can be seen here:

Having met her,I can feel the loss.She was a superwoman & a true Photojournalist. An inspiration.

May her soul rest in peace.

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