It is of no surprise to anyone who is a regular Instagram user that it has slowly become a tool for photographers of all genres to showcase their work and share it with the people around them and across the globe. While there are various uses of the app for different people, Instagram is the preferred app for most upcoming photographers to instantly edit their photos and upload them. But, there is more to it. Instagram has also become the space where important stories are being told and shared with the whole world, which are otherwise unknown.
In order to support these photographers, Getty images launched the ‘Instagram Grant’ last year, a program “designed to recognize and support photographers documenting stories from underrepresented communities around the world using Instagram.”The three grant winners receive $10,000 and a mentorship from one of Getty Images’s photojournalists.
It gives me immense happiness to say that this year one of the grant recipients is our very own Ronny Sen from Calcutta, along with Christian Rodriguez of Uruguay and Girma Berta of Ethiopia. Ronny was awarded the grant for his seminal work on the coal mines of Jharia in Jharkhand where fire is burning underground for more than 100 years.
Ronny’s work in Jharia shows his capability as a documentary photographer committed to photograph his immediate reality but also with a narrative in each of the pictures. Each of the images of the series titled ‘The End of ’speak to us in the most raw and unhindered manner, where we only get a glimpse of what it is like for the people who live in Jharia under extremely dire conditions and with the threat of losing life at any moment; their economy depends mainly on the huge coal industry in Jharia. On what inspired Ronny to document the life of people in Jharia, he said, “It’s an economic, environmental and deeply political problem which is predominantly visible all across the world. There are many areas which I am trying to touch upon with this body of work. The fact that it’s a complex issue and it doesn’t only deal with mining, but with how it is done and about the people who are the most affected and so on. I hope that this can initiate a dialogue and show people a small glimpse of a possible future that is coming towards us.”
Taken on a mobile phone over the course of three and a half months in the coalfields of Jharia, Ronny’s photographs display the life lived by the people in Jharia, who are totally isolated and sucked into a vortex of unpredictability and lifelessness with an apocalyptic landscape consisting of only smoke and coal all around. Ronny’s photographs do what even serious government reports could not do; display the hazardous and unpredictable life of the people of Jharia.
Ronny’s work will be on display at Photoville in New York City from Sept 21-25. Also check Instagram handle ‘What does the end of time look like’ to view the series.
BongRong congratulates Ronny Sen for his incredible achievement as the Grant winner this year and wishes him all the best for his future.