Veteran American photographer, Annie Leibovitz had once said, ‘The thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.’ In the creative industries, photography is still often looked at as a man’s domain. But here are nine Indian women who are breaking the glass ceiling and making a name for themselves in the field of photography:
Also Read: I Live in Images: Dayanita Singh
1. Dayanita Singh
Artist and photographer Dayanita Singh is renowned for dwelling and expanding on people’s reactions to photographs. Singh’s foray into photography began after meeting tabla maestro Zakir Hussain when he invited her to shoot him during rehearsal after she was aggressively handled during one of his concerts. She has published twelve books and has had her work showcased across the world. The photographer was the first Indian artist to have a solo exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery in 2013.
2. Anita Khemka
A graduate of English Literature, Anita Khemka, has been a photographer for the past two decades. Her work reflects on documenting people living on the fringes of the society. Her subjects have been sexual minorities, prostitutes, transgender persons, people with mental disabilities, and HIV positive individuals. She has also worked extensively with women, documenting maternal health issues in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and India.
3. Ketaki Sheth
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Ketaki Sheth has made a name for herself by trying to capture the essence of the city, which is always in motion, throbbing with activity and chaos. She started her career under the acclaimed photographer Raghubir Singh and Mumbai has been her constant muse. She has also worked on other documentation projects, the most famous being ‘A Certain Grace: The Sidi: Indians of African Descent’. The series captures the lives of the Sidi community, with whom Sheth spent five years. She has been awarded the Sanskriti Award (1992) and the Higashikawa Award (2006) for Best Foreign Photographer.
An alumnus of Harvard University, Sooni Taraporevala is a photographer, filmmaker and a screenwriter. She is best known for her collection of photographs which was made into a book titled, Parsis: the Zoroastrians of India – A Photographic Journey. Conceived over a period of twenty years, this book provides a detailed insight into the lives of the Zoroastrian community in India. Photographs from this series have been showcased at the gallery Chemould Prescott Road, Bombay; the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi and at the Tate Modern, London.
5. Sanjukta Basu
A feminist writer, a Ted fellow, a gender trainer and a photographer, Sanjukta Basu has a keen interest in documentary photography. She travels around the country, trying to capture the ground reality, trying to tell a story without embellishing it in the slightest. From documenting a wedding to her portrait of a middle-class Indian mother, from shots of the sprawling JNU campus to a shoot of Miss Tibet, Pema Choedon, her photographs are a real treat to the eyes.
6. Samanta Batra Mehta
Currently based in New York, Samanta Batra Mehta is a visual artist who works in different mediums like painting, drawing, installations and photography. She is primarily interested in drawing a relationship between land and the human body. In 2015, the artist was commissioned to work on a 40 piece art installation by the Jindal Steel Mills. She was felicitated with the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation’s 2014-2015 Painters & Sculptors Grant Award for outstanding artistic achievement.
7. Vasudha Chakravarthi
She is one of India’s few wildlife photographers. Vasudha Chakravarthy is from Bengaluru and she has lived in the Nilgiri jungles documenting it for three years. Trained at the Light and Life Academy in Ooty, Chakravarthi has also worked with veteran filmmaker VK Prakash.
8. Rathika Ramasamy
Another well-known wildlife photographer, Rathika Ramaswamy, a software engineer, was first drawn to capturing the wildlife in 2003 at the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, a UNESCO world heritage site. Ramaswamy specialises in Bird photography and has shot in wildlife parks in India and Africa. She has worked on a project on documenting birds in the JNU Campus. In 2015, she was awarded the International Camera Fair award for the outstanding performance and achievements in wildlife photography.
9. Rakhee Yadav
A graphic designer and food photographer, Rakhee Yadav runs the website Box of Spice. Here she shares recipes which try and have a different approach to Indian food, using the local produce in Netherlands, where she is currently based. Yadav develops and creates her recipes, styles and shoots all her pictures which are as colourful as they are stunning.