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Capturing the world with a click

Life viewed through his lens is sometimes surreal, sometimes down to earth. Samar Singh Jodhan pontificates on photography and its use as a tool to empower people

Story: Bharati Pawaskar | 17th December 2016, 12:00 Hrs

Working on a project in Afghanistan on the education of girl children, photographer Samar Singh Jodha has, in the past, has captured the kids living on the bottom end of poverty amidst crises and war through his lens. Jodha has witnessed the everyday struggle of the migrant workers and their children in India, the refugee children in Palestine and Bangladeshi rag pickers as well.

In Goa he held a workshop ‘Express & Aspire’ for the students between 3-5 years of age of Auxillum Convent High School in Caranzalem, who come from low income group families of construction workers. “Serendipity Arts Festival has collaborated with the school to create this empowerment exercise,” says Jodha who has been conduction the Express & Aspire workshops for the past 18 years with underprivileged people in Asia and Africa. “Each of these workshops go beyond honing the creativity of the individuals to raise self-esteem, impart life lessons and offer possibilities that are hard for these individuals to otherwise imagine in their difficult circumstances. Awards, exhibitions and fundraisers are some of the other outputs emerging from these engagements,” expresses Jodha whose work has been displayed at Adil Shah Palace in Panaji.

“Everyone is a photographer today. This is a welcome situation as there is lot of noise out there which has to be captured and transmitted,” feels Jodha who was happy to lend 50 of his cameras to underprivileged kids in Goa, giving them exposure to photography and the pleasure of being photographed themselves as they turn into junior photographers, albeit for 10 days. The outcome of this workshop is displayed at Mandovi Promenade till December 23 from noon to midnight.

Speaking on his 40-foot walk-in installation, ‘Bhopal - A Silent Picture’ based on the Bhopal tragedy and its aftereffects - Jodha mentions that it was showcased by the Amnesty International. “This multi-media public art project has so far clocked in over 150 thousand visitors,” he boasts. Jodha’s award winning portrait project on the disappearing Tai Phake, a Buddhist tribe in India’s northeast remains close to his heart as he continues working with it. Parallel to his art projects and editorial work, Jodha has worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BBC World Service Trust and the United Nations and is also a regular speaker on TEDx.

An artist who has been using photography and film to address various issues like development, human rights and conservation, Jodha’s work has shown in galleries and museums in Mumbai, Delhi, Barcelona, Boston, Frankfurt, London, New York, Queensland and Washington DC.

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I feel today’s youth photographers must learn the nuance of photography as a tool and then expose themselves to life. Read a lot on subjects - ranging from history to philosophy, culture to science and sociology to politics and even economy - which would take them away from doing conventional things in photography and allow them to listen to the chaos surrounding all of us. That is real photography - Samar Singh Jodha

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