The increasing intolerance towards creative forms of expression in India and the rise of artificially generated images is leading to a decline in ethical photojournalism, stated renowned independent photographer and curator Prashant Panjiar. These factors, he said, are also set to impact the future of photography and photojournalism in Goa.
Prashant Panjiar, independent photographer and curator
Panjiar, who gave a presentation titled ‘The Lens Based Practices’ at the recent MOG Sundays talk at the Museum of Goa, Pilerne, spoke about how censorship due to a rising intolerance towards portrayals of certain subjects is restricting freedom of expression.
“Showcasing works surrounding certain themes on a public platform or in public spaces is becoming increasingly difficult as people have begun to take offence easily. This will be a major challenge for future photographers and photojournalists as there is a growing necessity for self-censorship and a decreasing space for displaying critical work,” stated Panjiar.
While the future of photojournalism might appear bleak in Goa due to the lack of job opportunities and the print media fading out, Panjiar offered budding photographers and photojournalists some tips to retain the integrity of the process.
“The hallmarks of a good photographer and photojournalist are compassion and anticipation. Compassion should make you empathise with the subject, or else it is exploitation. Anticipation comes with experience when you can foresee what entails a good shot and what can become a good story,” he stated.
According to Panjiar, as artificial intelligence is here to stay, the only way for photographers to work in tandem with AI and not compromise their credibility is to add a disclaimer whenever AI is utilised to either generate or alter images.
He also highlighted the need to replace certain terminologies in the photography industry.
“We need to avoid saying ‘take’ a photograph as it sounds exploitative. The best photographs give something back to the public. I have begun saying that I ‘make’ a photograph instead, as I utilise what is already there to showcase the truth,” he said.
Having worked as a photographer and photo editor for mainstream print publications like India Today and the Patriot, among others, and then as a curator in major festivals like the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF) in 2016 and 2017, the Delhi Open Arts Festival and others, Panjiar’s photography skills have influenced his curatorial skills and vice versa.
“It is an important skill for people to not only present their work but be critical of it. When I became a curator, I was able to understand how images and photographs would finally present themselves on the final copy and this now informs the way I photograph. I am also able to appreciate other photographers’ good work and develop a criticality,” stated Panjiar.
His other venture, the Goa Open Arts Festival, also offers artists and photographers living in Goa opportunities to showcase their work.
“We conceptualised the Goa Open Arts Festival to bring together the vast creative populace in Goa. SAF started the trend of making Goa a hub for creative experiential tourism and we hope to contribute to the same endeavour,” Panjiar concluded.