Going beyond the picture

Three of India’s most celebrated photographers and Karan Johar team up to help choose the best of India’s unseen shutterbugs

Published: 16th September 2021 04:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2021 08:34 AM   |  A+A-

Pics courtesy: Prasenjeet Yadav

Express News Service

It’s not very often that a multimedia biggie decides to open its myriad platforms to showcase the talents of photographers (professional or otherwise), all in the name of the love for photography. But that’s exactly what National Geographic decided to do with their brand new campaign, Your Lens, which was launched on September 1.

The campaign, which invites participants to submit their photos through a dedicated website, will decide on winners through a jury consisting of three photographers: Prasenjeet Yadav, Poulomi Basu and Deepti Asthana and is being presented by Karan Johar.

Prasenjeet Yadav is a molecular ecologist turned photographer and explorer. He is one of the very few photographers who integrates science deeply into his photo stories. He chooses ignored subjects, landscapes, and species and finds ways to develop engaging photos. He is a founder member of Shoot for Science, which is an initiative to train scientists. 

Poulomi Basu is an award-winning Indian transmedia artiste, photographer and activist. Her work advocates for the rights of marginalised women using the power of photography and visual storytelling. She has become widely known for her powerful photographic projects Blood Speaks, Centralia and To Conquer Her Land, to name a few. She is the founder/director of Just Another Photo Festival, a travelling guerrilla visual media festival that democratises photography by taking it to the people and forging new audiences. 

Deepti Asthana is an independent award-winning photographer, storyteller, and explorer. Her work focuses on women in traditional societies of rural India, whose stories are largely untold. 
We caught up with the jury and with the face of the campaign, Karan Johar, to find out more:

Prasenjeet Yadav

What will you be looking for in these pictures?
Deepti: For me, the important thing is: where this photo is coming from? It’s just not about the technical aspect, or how pretty the picture is looking. For me, it’s about what the story is and what this person is trying to convey. 

Poulomi: I’m actually more interested in seeing how that single photograph can create an impact.
Prasenjeet: Beyond being aesthetically and compositionally beautiful, for me it would be about: do they make me think? Do they make me curious?

What are the projects that you have worked on with the media group? 
Deepti: I worked on a story of rural and indigenous women who are contributing to nature and conservation. 

Poulomi: I’ve been covering the Maoist insurgency and the project sits in the nexus of indigenous rights, ecofeminism, environmental justice, and climate justice. 

Prasenjeet: I work with both the ‘for profit’ end of the channel and the magazine; and also work with the National Geographic Society, where we help other younger explorers to write better grants and do better projects, which are both science as well as photography-storytelling based.

What can we look forward to from you, next?
Deepti: I’m working on two narratives right now; both are personal stories and personal histories. 
Poulomi: I’m working on an animation virtual reality project.

Prasenjeet: I have one project, which I worked on a couple of years ago, on this one really isolated island in the Indian Ocean called Narcondam. Hopefully, that should come out in the next couple of months. But along with that, I’m working on this long-term project, which is about human-animal interactions in India, focusing on the fact that we have an enormous amount of wildlife; and that some of the most craziest and dangerous animals are living right in our backyards.

You can do it too!

Visit the microsite: 

Enter basic details such as name, email address, year of birth, city and country.

Once done, choose from various themes such as Stunning Aquatic Life, Gorgeous Flora, Spectacular Aerial Views and Majestic Wildlife, etc. Multiple themes can be selected.

Close the nomination by adding tags and sharing the inspirational story and emotions behind the shot. 
You can share up to five pics or videos. 

The selected images will be featured on the television channel in India, the group’s social media platforms in India and on the dedicated website.

The KJo Connection

As someone who works so closely with a visual medium, what does photography mean to you?

Photography means capturing a moment and letting it be.

Are you a shutterbug yourself? Is there a photographer side of you that we’re not aware of?

I do get into that mode with my phone camera often. When I see a moment and I want to capture it immediately. I see somebody sitting in really good light and my first instinct is to capture the image.

An image tells a thousand stories — what does that saying mean to you?

It does! An image sometimes tells you a story that no story can actually tell you. 

How important is a picture for someone who imagines whole films before making them? Has any image/photograph ever inspired you today to make more art?

It will always be the image of the RK (Raj Kapoor Films) banner — the one where Raj Kapoor holds Nargis in that most romantic way. 

Tell us about your association with this campaign: 

This association is actually quite exciting, because it was something to do with my turf and terrain, which is photography. We all capture moments as filmmakers, but this time it was about capturing a still moment. It was an amazing concept and I was sold the moment I heard about it. 


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