Garima Agarwal, Shatabdi Chakrabarti and Sindhuja Parthasarathy – all recipients of the Frames Photography Grant – are helping to document the country’s rich cultural heritage, with their fascinating photo essays
The Frames Photography Grant, instituted by Sahapedia – an award-winning online encyclopaedic resource on Indian art and culture – aims to give emerging and professional photographers the opportunity to capture India’s unique cultural diversity. Garima Agarwal, Shatabdi Chakrabarti and Sindhuja Parthasarathy were among the few female photographers who were the recipients of the grant, in 2019, Here, we present some of their stunning work.
Chakrabarti is a film-maker, writer, media professional and a travel photographer. Her pictures of the Baiga community in Madhya Pradesh focus on capturing one of India’s most ancient artforms – tattooing. Her pictures are an attempt at raising awareness about this art, by featuring these tattooed women, who carry around centuries of Indian tattoo heritage and legacy on their person.
“The women of the Baiga tribe are extensively tattoed. Their motifs and designs are heavily influenced by nature and what they see around them.”
A Delhi-based photographer, Agarwal started taking her passion for photography more seriously while working at a fashion marketing firm. She headed out to Mandawa, which sits in the heart of the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan, to photograph the stunning architecture of the old havelis there. They were all built between the 17th and 19th century, but are now either abandoned or being looked after by local caretakers. Her aim was to capture the aura of these amazing havelis, and the lives of those who live within their walls.
Parthasarathy is a Chennai-based humanitarian photojournalist, who has worked with several international organisations, including UNICEF. She has been a strong advocate for inclusivity, gender diversity and gender rights. She visited the valley of Kashmir to document the lives of the transgender community there, and the social, political and financial challenges faced by them. Her pictures also try to capture the changing views about transgender people in the state, as acceptance slowly sets in.
“In my long interview with Shafiq at her home in Srinagar, she opened up about how her family understood and accepted her gender identity and expression. She felt truly blessed, as she is one of the few transwomen who live with their family.”