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Happy World Photography Day: Here is What Women in Photography Have Got to Say

Has photography as a profession become a gender-neutral space? We talked to a few female photographers. Read what they have got to say


On this World Photography Day, we talked to 3 women in photography and their outlook while capturing moments.

 Shikha Sood- Documentary-based photographer

“I’ve been practising photography for the past few years now. I love capturing people and portraying their daily lives and stories revolving around them. In photography, every day is different and refreshing. Things are very unpredictable & that is the most interesting part of being a street/documentary photographer”, says Shikha Sood, a documentary photographer based in Mumbai. Yet, she added, “what disappoints her is the assumption that I, being a woman, is less capable of photographing in challenging situations, which is definitely not true.”

Read More- World Photography Day: 5 pictures that show the incredible diversity in India

Photography is an art form that is all about how a person sees. There are always two people in a photograph, the one who is being photographed and the one who is photographing. Where what is in a frame can be subjective, what persists in the picture is the photographer’s unique vision.

Shikha has been into photography for the past few years and loves documenting people’s life. She believes her gentle approach has always allowed her to connect more nicely with the subject. Perhaps, the way “my approach is not something that is because of the soft and kind nature of a woman, but an apt and empathetic approach, any photographer, must have to document reality.” Says Shikha putting her thoughts on why it is essential to have a soft approach towards a subject.

Paromita Chatterjee- a woman, working in a man’s field

 

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A post shared by Paromita Chatterjee (@im_paro)

Commenting on the position of women in the photography world, “Inside the media industry, there seems to be a misconception that ‘female’ photographers can only cover softcore stories, that they are too fragile to work in adverse situations,” says Paromita Chatterjee, a documentary photographer who is based out of Kolkata and is in the profession for more than 7 years.

Paromita has experience photographing under challenging conditions: severe weather, aggressive mobs, manoeuvring hostile crowds during political rallies, etc. Yet, she says, “I don’t remember giving up in any of those circumstances. Because I think photography somehow empowers me. The camera in my hand becomes a shield that helps me overcome any insecurities I might have. At the end of the day, my camera is my talisman which helps me tide over the undercurrent of ridicule for being “a woman working in a man’s field” or the occasional lecherous glance.”

What most disappoints her is when she gets asked to hide her femininity while working in the field; “that I should always have an androgynous approach. However, I grew as a photographer, understanding I don’t have to hide my gender identity to tell my stories. My pictures clearly reflect who I am, so if I suppress my identity! How can I be true to my craft; how will I find myself in those pictures?”

Shefali Rafiq Bhat-a woman photojournalist from Kashmir

 

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A post shared by Shefali Rafiq (@shefalirafiqbhat)

Another woman who is a budding photographer, Shefali Rafiq Bhat, who documented women in the Kashmir conflict and pellet victims, shared her experience when she happened to cover a funeral. “The idea that women are not allowed near the graveyard had left me being the only woman in that funeral. Where the gaze from the male photographers is one thing, the added domination of males at the site adds to another.”

Yet, she believes times are changing now. Seeing examples of women photojournalists from Kashmir, which is a conflict zone, doing brave work is what gives hope to her.

None of them mentioned points where they had settled to society’s expectations. All three vouched for the deep-rooted patriarchy and male domination in this profession. Where there are safety concerns in isolated and deserted places, there is the uncomfortable gaze women are being subjected to when they come to shoot a photograph.

Yet many talented female photographers are breaking the barriers and paving the way for many young minds. Paromita even mentions, “the male photographers are also putting their efforts to make photography a safe and gender-neutral place, but it is a battle that can’t be won in a day.”

Photography is a gender-neutral art. Being a woman can’t make it good or bad. When I take a shot, I am not a woman or a man, but a photographer,” says Paromita exclaiming that the idea of calling me a woman/ female photographer is baseless.

Edit By- Ayushi Mittal

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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