Communicating Through Pictures
Showkat Nanda, an award-winning Kashmiri photojournalist recently won the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship to Missouri Graduate School of Journalism in Columbia, United States. A resident of Baramulla town, Showkat has a Masterís in Mass Communication and Journalism from MERC, University of Kashmir. He shares his experiences and future plans in a conversation with Syed Aadil for GK MAgazine.
Congratulations; tell us something about Fulbright fellowship.
Thank you very much. Fulbright fellowship is one of the most prestigious international awards conferred by the US State Department. This fellowship offers training and research opportunities in diverse academic and non-academic fields. The grant covers the cost of travel, living and tuition for a maximum of two years.
You have become the first photojournalist in entire India to be awarded this prestigious fellowship. How does it feel to be a Fulbright Scholar?
It feels great. All thanks to Almighty Allah.
You have been admitted to Missouri Graduate School of Journalism, one of the best journalism schools in the world. Which course would you be pursuing and what do you expect from it?
I would be doing a specialization in Documentary Photojournalism for two years. To be a part of one of the worldís top journalism schools is a wonderful chance for me to learn from the best and the brightest in the field. I believe it will open up a new world of opportunities for me.
Becoming a photojournalist; was it by choice or chance?
It was a fifty-fifty affair. When I was a teenager, I took pictures out of pure pleasure and never seriously considered becoming a professional photographer. But after joining Kashmir University as a media student, I came across the works of some famous photographers especially the American war photographer, James Nachtwey. I realized the power of telling stories through pictures and ultimately decided to become a photojournalist.
Briefly tell us about your career as a journalist.
I started as a trainee with AFP in 2006. In 2008, I joined a local newspaper as a correspondent and photographer. Until recently I was working with another local weekly as Assistant Editor.
You bagged a National Award for a short film in 2006 when you were a student. Why didnít you go into filmmaking after that initial success?
Honestly, I didnít get enough resources to continue my passion for moving images.
You won the prestigious National Press Photo Award in 2011 for one of your photographs. What was it all about?
It was a picture depicting three Kashmiri sisters widowed in the ongoing conflict in the valley. All the three had lost their husbands in different circumstances. One was killed in police firing, another was killed by militants and the other one was shot dead by unidentified gunmen.
You have also been teaching photojournalism in different colleges and universities of Kashmir.
Well, immediately after completing my Masterís from Kashmir University, I started teaching photojournalism at College and University level with the sole aim of producing a learned breed of photojournalists in Kashmir. I must say that to a great extent I have been successful in doing that. A good number of my students are presently working in reputed international organizations as photojournalists as well as commercial photographers.
How much of the potential did you find in Kashmiri students especially in your field of specialization? What is your advice to the budding photojournalists of Kashmir?
They have immense potential but thatís not enough to become a good photographer. You must have an unmatched passion for communicating through pictures. You don't need somebody to tell you where to go to find a story. If you're passionate about it, you can make great pictures anywhere.
You are the only photojournalist in Kashmir among the younger lot who experienced success at an early stage.
I donít know, but I think the biggest advantage I have is that I also write and supplement my articles with my own pictures. I believe thatís what makes you a photojournalist in the true sense of the word. Every photojournalist should try to write stories and try to be, at least, a decent writer. It makes you more astute, more observant. It makes you listen.
Your biggest inspiration?
Mr. Izhar Wani, the former Bureau Chief of AFP in Srinagar who passed away recently. He was my godfather, mentor, brother and a true friend. I would also like to mention my cousin, Ejaz Var, a 1997 MERC pass out.
Are there any photojournalists who have influenced you?
One thing that influences me is beautiful documentary photography-such as that of Brazilian photographer Sabastaio Salgado. I am also highly influenced by the works of James Nachtwey and Marcus Bleasdale. Among our own photographers, I have a great regard for Altaf Qadri and Rafiq Maqbool.
After the completion of this fellowship are we going to see a changed Showkat Nanda?
If you are talking about my basic beliefs and mindset, then no. However, I hope to have become more skilled and a refined professional.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM GK MAGAZINE
ĎUrges people to make June 11 shutdown call a successí
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, June 9: The Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Saturday warned that any move aimed at putting the Kashmir issue on back burner or causing any damage to its status More
- Srinagar City
Srinagar, June 9: Srinagar Development Authorityís Sangarmaal City Centre, a state-of-art Shopping plaza at MA Road is emerging as a new hub of booming business activity in the City. Gorgeous More
Jammu, June 9: Army on Saturday said it foiled an infiltration bid at the Line of Control in Rajouri district. After a brief exchange of fire last night in Jhangar Sector the infiltrators retreated More
- South Asia
NISAR AHMED THOKAR
Islamabad, June 9: The former Chief Justice of Pakistani administered Kashmir (PaK), Syed Manzoor Gilani, is all set to visit Kashmir on Monday to attend the marriage ceremony of the daughter of the PDP More
Stockholm, June 9: People ravaged by Alzheimer's can now look forward to a potent new vaccine that can help them overcome the severely debilitating and complex conditions of the disease that afflicts people More
- Education and Career