Adnan Abidi

Adnan Abidi

Based
New Delhi, India
Born
New Delhi, India
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 5D Mark III, 1D Mark IV
“In photojournalism you need to get beyond the visible and dig out a story within a story.”

Beat

Breaking news, daily life, sports

One Shot

. KABUL, Afghanistan. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
A girl looks out the window of a bus in Kabul August 6, 2008.
“It was in Afghanistan and I was sitting in the front seat with Hamid, the Kabul bureau driver, driving past a bus. I looked back and saw this girl sitting very close to the front mirror, next to the driver, and the mirror was cracked. I just couldn’t stop myself and I shouted “Hamid, roll down the glass!” I picked up my camera and clicked three frames in the moving car. I am still very curious to know what she was thinking.”

Profile

When I was 11, I was a member of a mobile van library, and used to borrow comic books. Once I picked up a picture postcard book by the veteran Indian photographer S. Paul and that was when I began to be intrigued by photography. I never returned that book, but pestered my father to buy me a camera and I got my first one - a Yashica point and shoot film.

I never had any formal training in photography. I learnt most of it by trial and error and from the guidance of senior photographers in the field who scolded me and corrected my mistakes. I am still in the process of learning.

My first job was with a local newswire agency, and I was never issued with a full roll of film. Instead I was given leftover remaining films - usually 10 to 15 frames. I recall that on my first assignment I was given such a cut-film with 15 possible shots and I had to cover two assignments with it: an anti-government protest and a news conference called by a politician. I came back after covering both assignments and saved three frames. The good part of using left-over film was getting into the habit of being selective.

I haven’t covered conflict, but I feel my reflexes are best suited to these kinds of assignments. I also like shooting portraits.

I believe that in this business we don’t shoot to impress our fellow photographers, but to convey a story through our pictures to a general audience. I prefer to capture my subjects in a way that a layman can understand and relate to.

Like a billion Indians, I am a great cricket fan and once I got too engrossed watching cricket ace Tendulkar batting and took my eyes off the viewfinder. I ended up missing a great action picture. Since then, whenever I’m on an assignment, I watch everything through a viewfinder with a finger on the shutter button

Darwin’s theory of survival of fittest applies to today’s continuously evolving art of photography. In photojournalism, going beyond the visible and digging out a story from within a story is what’s required.

I advise all young visual journalists to do their homework thoroughly before taking on any assignment, as knowledge of the event and its history plays a vital role in getting the pictures that matter most.

The biggest lesson I have learnt is that you start connecting with people in a completely unique way with a camera in your hand.

Behind the Scenes

. New Delhi, India. Reuters
Adnan Abidi comes out of a flooded house as the waters of river Yamuna rise around him in New Delhi.
. Amroha, India. Mohsin Taqvi
Abidi takes pictures during a Moharram procession ahead of Ashura, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.