They say a picture speaks a thousand words. I was speechless when I first saw this photo my friend Sivaram had posted on Facebook. He is a brilliant photographer no doubt, and this one only reiterated it. But believe me, at that time, I was only looking at it aesthetically… what a picture, what depth, composition, how beautiful my Kerala is and all that! As a coincidence, my husband also came home that evening and spoke of the same picture and said, “Did you see your friend’s brilliant picture on Reuters?” And we left it at that… truly happy for him.
Little did I know that this photograph would open up new vistas… for those in it and would be one of the shining examples of responsible journalism! Sivaram later retailed to me over chat and e-mail the entire story.
Here is the story in his own words… Here it is, because stories of responsible journalism need to be told and more importantly, need to be heard!
“Reuters photographers are always encouraged to look for standalone pictures from their respective regions. On January 5, I decided to travel to Kodungaloor (in Kerala) via Cheranallor (a very picturesque place on the way to Thrissur). As I was crossing the Varapuzha bridge, I saw a coracle that contained a fisherman’s family. I immediately stopped my bike and started taking pictures from different perspectives. After a few minutes, I saw another fisherman’s family and used my telephoto lens to take a few shots. As they reached near the bridge I was shocked to a child sleeping in the coracle. I returned to Cochin to file the pictures. Reuters India released it immediately and the next day, it was carried in different publications the world over, like The Guardian, BBC, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, MSBN, etc” Reuters also selected it as the Best Picture around the globe for January 5, 2011.”
The story continues…
“The editor of the German magazine, ‘Bild and Sonntag’ on seeing the photograph contacted the Reuters Berlin office to know more about it. The Reuters India Photo Editor rang me up and I told them that I’d try to get more information as they are travelling fishermen and it’d be a little difficult to trace them. The next day, I got a mail from the editor of ‘Bild and Sonntag’ who assigned me to do a story on the fisherman’s family. I began my search. Only on the fifth day, I could trace this fisherman and his family to Kothad in Kadamakudy village on the outskirts of Cochin.
Twenty-seven-year-old Chandru, his 22-year-old wife Saroja and their 4-year-old daughter Ramba were from Mysore district in Karnataka. They usually camped at various lakes/river shores in Kerala for six months – from December to June in groups. Each group comprised six to seven families and each family earned around Rs. 5,000 a month.”
The conclusion: The story was carried as a double-spread in ‘Bild and Sonntag’ and has received amazing response from its readers. Sivaram tells me that the magazine and the readers are ready to help the fisherman’s family monetarily, and hopefully, it will give them a new lease of life.
As a journalist, I believe that there is a larger picture to everything. This picture and this story proves it, and proves it well!
(You can view more of Sivaram’s photos on www.flickr.com/photos/sivaportfolio)