Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first woman photo journalist and now in her 90s, has stories to tell about the difficult life of a woman photographer back in the 70’s. Here, some of the young women photographers who specialise in subject uncommon to women, tell their tales.
Shraddha Kadakia (Automobile photographer)
It’s common to see Shraddha Kadakia lying flat on the road with her camera and speeding bikes go over her head. Wonder what makes her stand strong in front of bikers doing wheelies, gushing towards her. “It’s my passion for clicking automobiles,” says 25-year-old Kadakia, who specialises in automobile photography and whose work we often see in advertisements of Skoda, Bajaj, Maruti, Apollo Tyres and DC Designs among others.
“Anything to do with automobiles is predominantly male dominated. Even in the corporate industry there are few women handling automotive accounts. I wonder why,” says Kadakia.
After completing a five-year course in applied art from Sophia Polytechnic Art and Design, she studied photography from Ooty. When she returned to Mumbai, only a few established names were ready to help her. “That’s how life is. Some are lucky to get support from others. But with hard work and belief in oneself, nothing is difficult.”
Usually, automobile shoots are done with added effects within the confines of a studio, mixed and morphed, but Kadakia doesn’t fear the real stunts. “I like the adventure and risk involved. With every printed picture, it’s the high that keeps me motivated,” she says.
Ovee Thorat (Wildlife photographer)
22-year-old Ovee Thorat gets thrills in wildlife photography. A student of Zoology, her interest in animal biology got her inclined towards animal photography and from there on to wildlife shoots. She recalls an incident at the Ranthambore Tiger Sanctuary, “I spotted a tiger and took my camera out to click it. But the moment I was about to click, my camera battery went off.. and alas! I missed a chance and I will never get that shot again, ever.”
Having traveled to sanctuaries in the Western Ghats, Lower Himalayan regions, Periyar and Dandeli, she now hopes to go to the north-eastern region.
However Sanjay Gandhi National Park remains her favourite hop, skip and jump site to shoot. “Wildlife photography is totally dependent on nature. There are no models or extra lights. To get a good picture under this condition is the thrill,” says Thorat who has participated in various photography exhibitions.
Lakshmi Prabhala (Street photographer)
There’s electrical engineer, Lakshmi Prabhala who finds people and street photography an interesting theme. Prabhala, who is self-taught, has had her photographs published in coffee table books, magazines and publications.
“I try not to change a setting and choose the vantage point that makes the best perspective. As for subjects, children are most spontaneous in front of the camera and their responses can be uplifting too,” she smiles. She finds it strange that many things go amiss and are seen only when they are framed. “There is a joy in being able to capture ordinary people doing ordinary things”, she says.
May it be the danger, adventure or the sense of noticing the ordinary and capturing it right, women photographers are in the pretty frame.