Indian Photographers & International Conflicts


Why don’t Indian photographers cover international conflicts?

Answer by: Arko DattaPhotojournalist and Educator

The reason for this is pretty much a continuation of what I had said earlier. This generation is not tuned to working very hard, and war photography is a lot of hardwork and hardship. The smartphone generation is more naturally inclined towards experimenting with form, instead of going out and looking for real, meaningful stories, which requires hard labour. There is a physicality in photojournalism, which most youngsters are not inclined towards. So, the first thing missing is interest and aptitude. For those who are prepared to go through the rigours of covering conflict, the other aspect that is missing is the proper training required in the coverage of a hostile environment, especially in risk assessment. It would be quite risky to send a novice, without proper training and protective gear like flak jackets or helmets. International organisations spend thousands of dollars on training and equipping their journalists, before sending them to cover conflicts. This is unimaginable in India.

Perhaps the greatest barrier to Indian photojournalists, not just covering conflicts, but any global story, is opportunities and sponsorship. Again, most of the Indian media organisations hardly spend much on news gathering, compared to their international counterparts like The New York Times, TIME magazine, The Washington Post, etc, and it is especially worse for photojournalism. The top newspapers and magazines mostly prefer to use images from international news agencies like Reuters, AP, AFP, Getty Images, rather than taking pride in publishing their own exclusive images, with a few and far exceptions. I guess, in Indian media, money is more important than journalistic exclusivity. On this front, nothing can be done on an individual level, unless media houses change their coverage policies and start spending more on photojournalism. That is why India has hardly ever produced global photojournalists, with the opportunities restricted to Indian photojournalists working for international news agencies.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Better Photography.