It requires skill, confidence and courage to report from a war zone or a country rising from the ashes. It is tougher, probably, to capture on film, the emotions of people in such conflict zones.
Three celebrated American women photographers — Ami Vitale, Maggie Steber and Andrea Bruce — have excelled at this and shown the world the other side of conflict, one that is rarely seen by most.
Their works were part of an exhibition titled The Emphatic Eye, held at Apparao Galleries in Nungambakkam, and is in continuance with the women’s international film festival being held in the city.
Vitale is a Pulitzer winner, Steber has won the World Press Photo award and Bruce has received the White House News Photographer of the Year award.
A unifying factor in their photographs is the richness of colour and contrast with the mundane existence in peaceful regions. The photographs provide but a glimpse of the stunning body of work of the women photographers.
A man is held at gunpoint in a room in Afghanistan; a lifeless man propped up in the corner of a room is a victim of election-day attack in Haiti; a group of women console their friend who has lost someone in the war.
Apart from such stark portrayals of conflict zones, there are also images that capture ordinary citizens picking up the pieces and starting life afresh.
Art director Thota Tharrani, who inaugurated the exhibition on Monday, said, for someone used to films, the photographs were like watching a movie through still photography. The images exhibited the speed with which the photographer had captured them in a troubled region, he said.
InKo Centre’s director Rathi Jafer said the aim of the photography exhibition was to provide a counterbalance to the film festival.
The women had taken extraordinary photographs in strife-torn terrain and captured with empathy, the events that shaped a country, she said.
Vitale and Steber were in India, recently, to conduct a photography workshop at the invitation of Travelling Lens which curated the exhibition, said its chief executive officer Varun Gupta.