Monday 18 March 2013


Until I came to Ranchi in 2012 for the first workshop, I had never held a camera in my life. My hand shook, and I really wasn’t sure I could do it.”

– Deena Ganwer, Community Photographer, Chhattisgarh

As part of a joint initiative between the Magnum Foundation and Video Volunteers, Magnum Nominee, Olivia Arthur, and Magnum Foundation Fellow, Sohrab Hura, led a series of workshops with community photographers from across India.

The group totalled twenty, all Community Correspondents with the community media organisation, Video Volunteers, and most of them women. Working with people from oppressed groups across India, Video Volunteers hosts the largest number of salaried community media makers in the world. Included in this are Dalits, transgender persons, Tribals and numerous individuals from India’s conflict regions, all living below or near the poverty line. For many, the journey time to the workshops took close to two days.

Titled “Storytelling through Photography”, the workshop focused on creating visually strong, contextualised images and building a narrative into picture stories. “Taking good photographs is about being creative, patient and experimental”, said Olivia, while stressing “one must get one’s feet dirty to get that elusive picture”. In between workshops, photographers worked on their own images, receiving mentoring and feedback along the way from Olivia and Sohrab.

“To work with such a diverse group is a pleasure. We’ve seen real progress in their photography between the first and second workshops. My hope is that one day these people will have their images published and exhibited alongside international photographers” said Sohrab Hura.

Between unreliable Internet connections, poor transport, and an unpredictable postal service, it was part miracle that the photographers were able to submit their work in the first place.

What makes this participatory photography project exciting is the collaboration between community members and world-renowned professional photographers. Both Magnum and Video Volunteers feel that such collaborations will be more and more crucial to all aspects of the arts and journalism in future years, as citizen reporting grows. There is potential for much more work: With 150 community correspondents across India, and the number set to rise to 200 by the end of 2013, reporters at Video Volunteers have access to untold stories across India, covering topics such as disability, water shortages and illegal land encroachment. The future of the project will see community correspondents continuing to work on their own stories, with support and mentoring from the Magnum Foundation.

To learn more about the Magnum Foundation and Video Volunteers click here.

Saroj Paraste

Sajad Rasool

Ajeet Bahadur

Reena Ramteke

Amit Topno

Amita Tuti