IN THE time of democra­tised streams of me­dia pro­duc­tion and Face­book pho­tog­ra­phers, spa­ces for pho­to­jour­nal­ism have been steadily de­clin­ing. An in­de­pen­dent or­gan­i­sa­tion founded by four jour­nal­ists, the Me­dia Foun­da­tion of In­dia set out to cre­ate a plat­form for pho­to­jour­nal­ists through a na­tional pho­tog­ra­phy con­test. “We started from the dis­en­chant­ment with the me­dia in the past decade,” says poet and art cu­ra­tor Ran­jit Hoskote, who is also the chair­man of the

“and tried to re­flect on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the im­age and what con­sti­tutes news.” Putting to­gether a jury of three renowned lens­men — Kevin Frayer, chief pho­tog­ra­pher at the As­so­ci­ated Press, South Asia, and award-win­ning pho­tog­ra­phers Arko Datta and Pablo Bartholomew — the re­warded a wide pal­ette of work, of­fer­ing 75,000 to the win­ner of the ‘Pic­ture of the Year’.

This year, Man­dar Deod­har, a pho­tog­ra­pher with In­dia To­day, cap­tured the grip­ping im­age of a man strug­gling amid the fumes of a fire that rav­aged a South Mum­bai mar­ket. From the top of a build­ing, he painted the mem­o­rable pic­ture of a man sur­rounded by chaos. “He is at the thresh­old of be­ing a vic­tim,” says Hoskote, “yet tries to sur­vive.” Re­ceiv­ing the award for this de­pic­tion of or­di­nary hero­ism, Deod­har em­pha­sises that the prize “en­cour­ages him to work harder”. The Yes Bank Photo Con­test is an op­por­tu­nity for pho­to­jour­nal­ists to of­fer an artis­tic gaze to news, ex­ten­sively cov­ered by the me­dia yet “hid­den in plain sight”, as Hoskote puts it.

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