The man behind the Indian Photo Festival

Photographer Aquin Mathews, founder of the Indian Photo Festival, believes in the need to curate visuals that convey a message

January 23, 2023 03:37 pm | Updated 08:37 pm IST

Aquin Mathews

Aquin Mathews | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In a world saturated with images, to pick out the ones that tell a story, the ones that change policies, the ones that create an indelible impact is a responsibility that Aquin Mathews has taken upon himself. 

The Sydney-based photographer, also the founder director of the Indian Photo Festival (IPF), the “longest running” international photography festival showcasing photographs from India and around the world, has been curating photographs ever since the launch of the festival in 2015. 

From photographer Chinky Shukla’s  documentary series on Pokharan’s nuclear tests in 1998, which was chosen as one of the winners in IPF’s Photographer of the Year Award

From photographer Chinky Shukla’s documentary series on Pokharan’s nuclear tests in 1998, which was chosen as one of the winners in IPF’s Photographer of the Year Award | Photo Credit: Chinky Shukla

He founded a not-for-profit organisation, Light Craft Foundation, under which the photo festival is conducted every year.  

In an age when technology has democratised photography, the onus is on distinguishing powerful images from a sea of visuals, he says. “I think now it becomes all the more important to give a fair exposure to images that convey stories about people and the world we live in,” says Aquin. The annual photography festival was founded with this aim, he adds. “As a photographer, I felt I had the responsibility to create a platform for other photographers to exhibit their work and bring untold stories from around the world to light,” says Aquin, who is also the director of the Hyderabad Centre for Photography, a space founded to develop contemporary photography. 

The festival not just offers an avenue to view the images, it also creates a meeting point for photographers to discuss and have meaningful creative interactions. The IPF has brought in eminent photographers in its past editions, including Pulitzer prize winning photographer Nick Ut (who clicked the photograph of the Napalm girl during the Vietnam war), Richard Drew (who clicked the image of the falling man from the World Trade Centre) and British photographer Tim Flach (whose iconic portraits of animals are known for their distinctive style) to name a few. “An effective tool of storytelling, we cannot discount the role of photography in sensitising people and creating awareness on issues,” Aquin says. 

Photographer of the Year Award

The Hyderabad-based Indian Photo Festival introduced a Photographer of the Year Award in March 2022 with the first edition drawing an overwhelming response from photographers around the world. Spread across different categories such as press, documentary, portraits, landscape, street, wildlife, and weddings, the images came in from over 85 countries. The competition also included a category on mobile photography, in order to ensure inclusivity. 

For Aquin, who has been working as a commercial photographer in Sydney for the past 12 years, photography was always a passion. Even though he studied Computer Science at Mar Ivanios College, Thiruvananthapuram, and worked in software firms and as an HR consultant later, his heart was in photography. He moved to photography after he shifted to Australia. He particularly enjoys wildlife photography for which he takes time out of his busy schedule. He has curated photography exhibitions in India, France, Australia, and New Zealand. 

A selection of winning images from the Photographer of the Year Award was showcased recently in Kochi. The images are available for vieweing at

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