Colourful images of India

A PHOTOGRAPH is a picture made using a camera, in which an image is focussed on to light-sensitive material and then made visible by chemical treatment. This is a valid definition, no doubt. But it is an insufficient definition; it tells but a half-truth. It just tells you what a photograph is; it does not tell you what a photograph does. A photograph presents feelings, ideas, ethos and world-views in a language that is most easy to understand. All the time,it says as much about the photographer as about the object of photography. It is for this reason that the annual "expatriate photo contest" conducted by Global Adjustments, demands special attention. The question at the centre of this contest is: what do our visitors think of us?

The award ceremony of the Sixth Annual Expatriate Photo Contest on "Beautiful India" was held this past Sunday at The Park. (There were about 200 (photo) entries for the contest. The snapshots will be on display at Dakshina Chitra (ph: 24918143) from April 11 to 14; and at SAGA (ph: 24971387/89), 251, TTK Road, Alwarpet from April 16 to 18.)

This year, there were three main categories - Face to Face; Street Life; Places. Glancing at the "pictorial" presentation of India, one could not help concluding that some of the expatriates must be having enough knowledge about the country to expatiate on its ethos. It seemed that they had not left a nook out of the picture. The presentation was interestingly holistic.

There was this photo (by Margaret Thorpe from the U.S.) of a roadside barber shop; then that of an old man begging (by Karin Vanden Steenbergen from Belgium. The photo was captioned "Humble Karma"); there was a photo (captioned "Eliza Doolittle". Remember My Fair Lady?) of an Indian flower girl by Christiana Sauer from the U.K.; then there were photos capturing road-broadening, vendors on the road, camels in desert, temples and all the caboodle of images that go to make India what it is.

With most of these expatriates, a camera is a regular component of their workaday kit; they are compulsive shutterbugs. Mike Eliseou is chairman, British Business and Social Club - Chennai; he lives in Alwarpet. The Briton carries three cameras with him wherever he goes. His pictures tell you that he has trotted across India. "When you take pictures, awards are the last thing on your mind," reveals Eliseou. Yves Basset from France averages two pictures a day.

In the Face to Face category, the first prize went to Paul Fejer of Australia for his picture of an Indian girl, dark-skinned and ebullient in spirit. She is sporting a bright smile. The photo was aptly titled "Warmth of India"; the second prize went to Yves Basset of France for a mug-shot of a Kathakali dancer whose face is a prism of colours. The picture was interestingly captioned "Which colours do you choose?" He had clicked this picture at Dakshina Chitra.

In the Street Life category, the first prize went to Mike Eliseou from the U.K. for his picture of the roadside bookshop on Luz Church Road, run by the hoary-haired Alwar; the photo was titled "I have read every book". The second prize went to Elaine Wood from Australia for a picture of three weavers at work (probably in a village).

Colourful images of India

In the Places category, the first prize went to Neil Simon from the U.K. for a picture titled "Faith". It captured a temple scene. The second prize went to Margaret Thorpe from the US, for a picture titled "The Golden Peacock" which showed an intricate artwork of a bygone era.

In the miscellaneous categories, the Best Picture - Humour prize went to Isabelle Basset from France for a picture of a cow tethered near a cycle stand. The picture was titled: "You take your bike and I take my cow". The Best Picture - Caption went to Elaine Wood of Australia of a rock-hewn statue of a woman, who seems to be airborne. The caption read: "Skydiver".

The winner of the "Overall Best" picture was Jan Van Steenbergen of Belgium for his photo titled Sunset that showed an aged godman. His forehead is liberally daubed with red holy powder. The powder resembles the hue the crepuscular sky takes (at sunset). The shape of his "red" forehead resembles a setting sun.

Shadow Play by Gerard Ritteur from Germany won the Crowd's Favourite prize. It provided a view of a tree and its shadow.

In the children's category, Ji - Yeon Lee from the Republic of Korea won the first prize for juniors; and Natasha Wood from Austria won the first prize for seniors.

The photos were judged by Roger Ford, who is currently working in Chennai with Compagnie Generale des Eaux), Angela Ford, who is an associate of the Royal Photographic Society, and film personality Suhasini Mani Ratnam.