Photographing Photographers: From the Best Seat in the House


Photographs/Dinesh Khanna

The Delhi Photo Festival has finally come to a close and what an intense, inspirational and exciting time it has been. It is phenomenal being able to witness the fantastic work of photographers from around the world, but it’s just that much more special being part of the team that helps bring it together. At the beginning of the festival, I had decided that I will iPhone my way through it. Being one of the organisers of this hub of ideas, I wanted to document my personal experience from a perspective that would be different from any visitor’s.

“When we hear the best of practitioners speaking about their experiences, we realise that real photographers don’t just do photography, they live it.”

For me, personally, the interesting thing was that I didn’t get to see the complete setup of exhibits till a week into the festival. This was because I moderated all the lectures, artists’ talks, seminars and evening screenings from 10 in the morning to 10 at night. So once the festival was inaugurated, I was stuck behind a mike for the entire opening week. Which is what made my DPF iPhone diary constrained from its vantage point, yet unique. After all, the upside was that I got the best seat in the house, right up there with the presenters. I had to be a very careful listener to steer the discussions and conversations in a meaningful direction. It is fascinating when one witnesses the enthusiasm of the young photographers and students hanging on to every word spoken and experience shared.

My point of view, aided by the fact that my phone was on me all the time, was spontaneous and in the moment. Something my friend, Kathryn Myers, an artist and a Fulbright scholar, pointed out in her Facebook comment, by saying, “These have been great shots of the presenters, from an atypical vantage point.”

Dinesh Khanna’s career path veered from being a calculator salesman, a garment quality checker, a busboy in a New York bar and a client servicing executive, after which, he finally gave in to his desire to make images. He cofounded the Delhi Photo Festival and regularly conducts ‘addas’ in Delhi to encourage discussions on the medium.