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Homai Vyarawalla
A fox hunt in Delhi led by Col. Sahni, early 1940s
Homai Vyarawalla
Homai Vyarawalla

Homai Vyarawalla

Country: India
Birth: 1913 | Death: 2012

Homai Vyarawalla, India's first woman photojournalist, is best known for documenting the country's transition from a British colony to a newly independent nation. Vyarawalla was born on 9 December 1913 in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Her family belonged to India's tiny but influential Parsi community.

She spent much of her childhood on the move because her father was an actor in a travelling theatre group. But the family soon moved to Mumbai (then Bombay), where she attended the JJ School of Art. She was in college when she met Manekshaw Vyarawalla, a freelance photographer, who she would later marry. It was he who introduced her to photography.

She received her first assignment - to photograph a picnic - while she was still in college. It was published by a local newspaper, and soon she started to pick up more freelance assignments. Vyarawalla began to draw more attention after her photographs of life in Mumbai were published in The Illustrated Weekly of India magazine.

The Vyarawallas moved to Delhi in 1942 after they were hired to work as photographers for the British Information Service. Homai Vyarawalla, one of few female photojournalists working at the time in Delhi, was often seen cycling through the capital with her camera strapped to her back.

She took her most iconic images, however, after India became independent - from the departure of the British from India, to the funerals of Mahatma Gandhi and former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Homai Vyarawalla also photographed most prominent independence leaders. But she said in an interview that her biggest regret was that she missed photographing the meeting where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. She was on her way to attend it when her husband called her back for some other work.

Her work also includes candid, close-up photographs of celebrities and dignitaries who visited India in the years following independence, including China's first prime minister Zhou Enlai, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, Queen Elizabeth II and US President John F Kennedy. Vyarawalla photographed many famous people but Mr Nehru figures most prominently in her work as her "favourite subject". She said in an interview that when Mr Nehru died she "cried, hiding my face from other photographers".

Ms Vyarawalla clicked her last picture in 1970, retiring after a four-decade-long career. She left Delhi after her husband died in 1969 and moved to Gujarat. She was awarded India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2011. She died on 16 January 2012 at the age of 92.

Source: BBC


 

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Bill Owens, born in 1938, is a well-known American photographer who documented suburban life in the 1970s. His photography provides a unique and deep look into the everyday lives of average Americans, capturing both the commonplace and remarkable features of suburbia life. Owens began his photographic career in the late 1960s as a staff photographer for a local newspaper in Livermore, California. During this period, he began his most noteworthy project, "Suburbia," which would become a major body of work in American documentary photography. "Suburbia" was published as a book in 1973, featuring Owens' images and conversations with suburban dwellers. The project's goal was to investigate the goals, aspirations, and inconsistencies of suburbia life, offering a critical yet sympathetic study of the American Dream. Owens' images depicted scenes of backyard barbecues, family gatherings, children at play, and the myriad rituals and social interactions that constituted suburban areas. He highlighted both the humor and the underlying intricacies of suburban life through his good observation and direct attitude. What distinguished Owens' work was his ability to see past the surface and capture the soul of his subjects. His images conveyed a sense of realism by portraying suburbanites in their natural settings and enabling their tales to flow through genuine moments captured in time. Owens' art struck a chord with a large audience because it highlighted a huge societal transition in America during the 1970s. Owens' images challenged the idealized image of suburban life by exposing the hardships, wants, and inconsistencies inherent in the pursuit of the American Dream. Throughout his career, Owens continued to explore various topics and subjects in addition to his "Suburbia" series. He documented the California wine industry, capturing the agricultural process as well as the people that make it happen. He also covered countercultural trends of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the rise of the hippie and biker subcultures. Bill Owens' contributions to documentary photography will be remembered. His ability to depict the everyday lives of regular people in suburbia America with honesty and empathy earned him a place in American photographic history. His work is still being shown and researched, providing important insights into the social and cultural fabric of a specific period and place.
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