I have had an interest in photography for a long time and decided to pursue my graduation in multimedia. I got admission into a prestigious college in the South but the surrounding change hit me a little hard. I couldn’t make a lot of friends. Sometimes it felt like I didn’t belong. I always wanted to create something rather than following the norms. I started spending more time with my camera and slowly drowned towards journalism, it felt like the combination was perfect.
Since I am an only child and my parents are retired, when I graduated, I felt like I should be with them and decided to move back to Ahmedabad. I joined Ahmedabad Mirror as a photojournalist and with time, I started leading the photojournalism department there.
It takes a lot of courage to make a name in a society that is male dominant. Covering some events can be a big hassle too. I was once in a promotional event where actors came to the city to promote their film. The event was crowded as there were renowned celebrities. Some people tried to touch me inappropriately amidst the crowd. At that moment I had two options, I could just accept that every woman has to suffer something like this or I could fight back. I chose the latter because as a journalist, it is my responsibility to raise a voice. I took some time to gather myself and I raised myself from the chair and told everyone about what was happening, called the names of everyone who made me uncomfortable and made them apologize to me then and there! It is necessary to stand up for yourself and it will help other women who are a part of male-dominant industries to do the same.
Covid has been very life-changing for me. I was on the field and stayed in the hospital to cover as much as I could. I have also been a part of the initiative where we helped a lot of migrants. As a journalist, I travel a lot and I used my travelling time to help migrants move by giving them lifts for as far as I could while doing my work. Ahmedabad was severely impacted and some days I stayed in hospital for more than 10 hours. One of my pictures was of people struggling for an ambulance. The whole situation was heartbreaking. The lockdown period changed my life in a lot of ways and I grew up a lot as a journalist as well as a person.
I recently fulfilled a goal that has been on my list for a long time. I always wanted to buy a house for my parents and after working hard for years, I finally did it. The happiness on their face is what mattered the most to me.
Being the only female photojournalist in the city is not an easy task. When I first got the charge of leading the photojournalism department of the newspaper, I made sure to train my team in such a way that there would be no disrespect of boundaries and at the same time, no one would get uncomfortable while talking about things that are as basic as Sanitary napkins. My colleagues make sure that they carry a sanitary napkin for me which sometimes I even forget to carry. Sometimes we have to travel to remote areas and they make sure that I don’t have to suffer for my basic requirements. It is very important to educate men around us to do so.
As a photojournalist, it is my responsibility to create a society where true news and female safety is not taboo. We only teach women how to be safe but who will teach men how to behave when they have a woman around them? This initiative has been on my list for a long time and I am going to start working on it very soon. Being true to yourself, your art and your ethics is my advice to beginners. Things are going to be adventurous but it’s a fun roller-coaster ride. So just enjoy it.
- Ancela Jamindar
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Written by: Harshita Sharma