World Photography Day: 7 Women Photographers You Must Know About

From pioneers like Homai Vyarawalla to contemporary visionaries like Dayanita Singh and Avani Rai, these women have captured the essence of Indian society.

Published On Jul 24, 2023 | Updated On Mar 08, 2024


World Photography Day is celebrated annually on 19 August to acknowledge the art, science, and history of photography. It is a day to appreciate the impact of photography on our lives, society, and culture. On this day, photographers around the world come together to share their work, inspire others, and celebrate the power of visual storytelling.

World Photography Day dates back to August 19, 1839, when the French government officially announced the invention of the daguerreotype process, a photographic technique developed by Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. This announcement marked a significant milestone in the history of photography. The daguerreotype process was the first publicly recognised photographic process, and it paved the way for the development and popularisation of photography as an art form.

World Photography Day serves as a reminder of the transformative power of photography. It celebrates the photographers who freeze moments in time, evoke emotions, document history, and bring attention to pressing social issues. Photography has the ability to transcend language and cultural barriers, allowing us to connect, empathise, and understand different perspectives.

In recent years, Indian female photographers have been making significant contributions to the field of photography, capturing stunning visuals, and telling compelling stories through their lenses. These talented women have broken barriers, defied societal expectations, and paved the way for a more inclusive and diverse industry. 

From Homai Vyarawalla being the first woman to take up photojournalism, to Ketaki Sheth's widely exhibited work on urban spaces in monochrome, these women have been creative trailblazers in their respective specialisations, setting new standards, and opening doors for the next crop of women photographers. 

Here, we list the top Indian women photographers, from the legendary ones to the contemporary photographers

Homai Vyarawalla is often regarded as India's first female photojournalist. Born in 1913, Vyarawalla documented the political and cultural landscape of India during the pre and post-independence era. Her photographs captured iconic moments such as Mahatma Gandhi's funeral and the first flag-hoisting ceremony at Red Fort. Vyarawalla's work offered a glimpse into the socio-political history of India, and her trailblazing achievements inspired generations of female photographers to follow.

Dayanita Singh is a contemporary Indian photographer known for her introspective and deeply personal work. Singh's photographs often explore themes of memory, time, and the complexities of human relationships. Her books, such as 'Privacy' and ‘Go Away Closer’, have garnered international acclaim for their innovative format and thought-provoking narratives. Singh's evocative images challenge conventional storytelling and offer a glimpse into the nuances of Indian culture and society.

Sooni Taraporevala is an Indian photographer and filmmaker celebrated for her poignant and candid portraits. Taraporevala gained recognition for her collaboration with renowned Indian filmmaker Mira Nair on films like Salaam Bombay! and The Namesake. Her photographs capture the raw emotions and everyday moments of people from diverse backgrounds. Taraporevala's work beautifully documents the human experience, reflecting both the joys and struggles of life.

Esteemed street photographer Raghu Rai's daughter, Avani Rai, has also emerged as a promising talent in the field. Avani Rai has ventured into the world of photojournalism, capturing images that reflect the social, political, and environmental issues plaguing contemporary India. Her work provides a fresh perspective on subjects ranging from the conflicts in Kashmir to the effects of globalisation on rural communities. Avani Rai's photographs showcase her keen eye for detail and an empathetic approach to storytelling.

Ketaki Sheth is a versatile Indian photographer known for her striking black-and-white images. Her portfolio includes portraits, landscapes, and street photography. Sheth's photographs are often minimalistic, capturing the essence of her subjects with a focus on form and composition. Her exploration of light and shadow creates a visual depth that draws viewers into her frames. Sheth's work has been widely exhibited and recognized both in India and abroad.

Arati Kumar-Rao is an environmental photographer and journalist whose work focuses on issues of climate change and the human impact on ecosystems. Through her compelling images, Kumar-Rao sheds light on the challenges faced by marginalised communities due to environmental degradation. Her photographs not only raise awareness but also serve as a call to action to protect our planet. Kumar-Rao's work is a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness between nature and human existence.

Poulomi Basu is an award-winning Indian documentary photographer known for her socially engaged projects. Her photographs explore themes of gender, identity, and violence against women. Basu's work often confronts the deeply rooted patriarchal norms and social injustices prevalent in Indian society. Through her visual storytelling, she seeks to provoke dialogue and challenge the status quo. Basu's photographs have been exhibited internationally, raising awareness about critical social issues. 

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