“Since childhood I had observed my mother meticulously make photographs on her trusted Minolta and then arrange them neatly in photo albums, and somewhere that stayed with me,” says photographer Prarthna Singh. “My grandmother, who was also a big influence on me, spent her time discovering handicrafts and artisans from across India and bringing their work to a larger audience. So the environment I grew up in did encourage creativity, but since my father was in the civil services we were also expected to be academically disciplined.”
Singh grew up in Jaipur, India, where her parents still live, and is now based in Mumbai. The photographer has become known for using her photography to explore female identity in contemporary India and examine how that intersects with the country’s nationalistic politics. Her strengths are in portraying the dichotomy between progress and tradition, vulnerability and power. With recent projects including documenting the Shaheen Bagh protests in New Delhi last year and India’s healthcare workers during the pandemic, her drive is to be a force for change and to provide an authentic portrait of India from someone living and working there.
Here she talks to CR about how to navigate working in India and the importance of using storytelling as way to stand up for what she believes in.