A photographer shares his frames from the fringes
Puerto Rican photographer Manuel Rivera-Ortiz talks about how his own history informs his bond with Indians on the margins
Last Updated at November 13, 2015 20:47 IST
When asked why he prefers black-and-white pictures over colour, American documentary photographer Manuel Rivera-Ortiz takes a pause before responding. “There’s a picture that I took in Varanasi during one of my visits that broke my heart. I was taking a boat ride on the Ganga, and the sun was just coming up. I saw a doll in the water and remarked that it was quite big. The boatman poked at it and said, ‘That’s not a doll, that’s a little girl’,” Rivera-Ortiz says over a phone call from New York. “I exhibited that picture once in the United States, and people gushed over the colours in the picture — but they only saw the colours, not what the picture was telling them.”
The story is dismal and is in stark contrast to the title of the photographer’s first solo. India. A Celebration of Life culminates from the photographer’s many trips to the Indian subcontinent for close to a decade. The 46-year-old believes his need to document “the universality of poverty” stems from his own roots. Growing up poor in Puerto Rico in a family where he was the eldest of 10 children led him to follow the practice of “concerned photography”, which documents people in disadvantaged situations living a life of dignity.
“These pictures constantly remind me of my own past. They lend a voice to those to those still living in poverty,” says the founder of The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film, a non-profit organisation committed to positive social discourse in under-represented communities. With over 120 pictures and stories, Rivera-Ortiz’s book will be available in India too.
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.
First Published: Fri, November 13 2015. 20:46 IST