Towards the end of 2010, while photographing for a commercial client in New Delhi, I had to negotiate the not-insignificant challenge of working alongside a film-crew. I’ve been in this situation several times before but on this occasion there were six of them – directed by an Academy Award winner no-less; my assistant Sunayana and I were well and truly outnumbered! In this fast-converging world of still and moving images, many photographers are making the move into film-making. For my first outing into the world of cinematic journalism, I spent a weekend observing the very serious-business of male grooming on display in a lower middle-class suburb of New Delhi. The movie, entitled “Saloon”, provides a glimpse inside the intimate yet very public space that is the Indian barbershop.
Rajasthan’s chief wildlife warden Ramesh Mehrotra took objection to a story that accompanied my photographs in National Geographic Adventure magazine. In his vexed letter, which seems only to have been published in the print edition of National Geographic Adventure, Mehrotra appeared slighted by writer Paul Kvinta’s critique of Rajasthan’s tiger relocation policy. Mehrotra apparently considered that the fine hospitality and pleasant company he offered us obliged Paul to write a glowing report on the tiger conservation effort. But how much worse it could be if the charms of official hospitality were ever to silence those who scrutinize policy and continue to argue that there are systemic problems with India’s tiger conservation strategy.