scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Premium

How a son’s photographs of his elderly father’s battle with COVID-19 won him a POY Asia award

The Indian Express photographer Amit Chakravarty's montage on his father’s fight against COVID-19 has won him the second spot in the Picture of the Year-Asia 2021

Written by Ektaa Malik |
May 2, 2021 6:20:21 am
POY Asia award, Amit Chakravarty, COVID 19, Picture of the Year-Asia 2021, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, elderly father, eye 2021,Titled “War Comes Home”, the award-winning series, has 18 photographs with accompanying text. (Source: Amit Chakravarty)

In June 2020, photojournalist Amit Chakravarty turned the lens on his 85-year-old father. The novel coronavirus had hit India, and Chakravarty’s father had tested COVID-19 positive. “I was arranging things in the hospital, where my father was admitted, when the nurses told me to wear a double mask and a PPE kit. I had to talk to them from a distance of 10 feet. The idea of communicating from such a distance is what caused me to document my father’s illness,” says Mumbai-based Chakravarty, who has been working with The Indian Express for eight years. Previously, he has worked with publications like TimeOut.

To read this story, sign up here
Sign up to get quick access to Indian Express exclusive and premium stories.
Already a member?
POY Asia award, Amit Chakravarty, COVID 19, Picture of the Year-Asia 2021, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, elderly father, eye 2021, His black-and-white photographs, taken across three weeks, have won him the second place in the POY (Picture of the Year) Asia 2021 Award under the category of “Covid Expressions”. (Source: Amit Chakravarty)

His black-and-white photographs, taken across three weeks, have won him the second place in the POY (Picture of the Year) Asia 2021 Award under the category of “Covid Expressions”. POY Asia is part of POY International, a programme for visual journalists, run by Missouri School of Journalism’s Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, the US.

Titled “War Comes Home”, the award-winning series, has 18 photographs with accompanying text — we see a vacant corridor of a hospital; a ceiling that shows the curved curtain rod of a hospital room; his father recuperating at home. Chakravarty has also scribbled his thoughts on these frames. An abandoned plate of food reads, “Salt missing, sugar missing. Food sucks!” In a pensive silhouette of his father, he writes, “…He feels irritated to be jailed at his own house. Baba is acting like a child.”

POY Asia award, Amit Chakravarty, COVID 19, Picture of the Year-Asia 2021, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, elderly father, eye 2021, Amit Chakravarty

“I have been documenting my parents since 2010, in a project called ‘Inner Circle’. They are a bit like fish out of water in Mumbai, compelled to leave Kolkata because of me. He was an accountant and my mother a housewife. When Baba caught COVID, it suddenly dawned on me that this is possibly the last time I was seeing him… In June last year, COVID felt lethal and incurable. When his RT-PCR test came positive and he needed to be moved to another medical facility, I didn’t have my camera. I took some pictures on the phone,” says Chakravarty, 47. “The writing on the photos was my way of being part of this project. A camera helps us photojournalists to maintain a distance, but with this, I brought ‘my personal self’ into the narrative. Because, while the pandemic was raging outside, we were fighting it in our own homes.”
Long-form documentation had helped Chakravarty understand the medium of photography better. “Your understanding of the medium changes — you are constantly doing and undoing your work, you draft, you cancel and redraft,” he says.

POY Asia award, Amit Chakravarty, COVID 19, Picture of the Year-Asia 2021, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, elderly father, eye 2021, I have been documenting my parents since 2010, in a project called ‘Inner Circle’ (Source: Amit Chakravarty)

After a week, Chakravarty’s father came home and had to be quarantined. His family was ostracised, given the initial hysteria and stigma attached to the virus. “Thankfully, we did not have to vacate the premises, unlike others in Mumbai. I was also in quarantine, and had nothing to do, so, I started shooting. But, there were moments that I missed too, like when the ambulance brought my
dad home.”

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Eye News, download Indian Express App.

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
X
x