Caption: Crossing the ‘security wall’ from Abu Dis to catch the bus to East Jerusalem, © Tahir Amin.
My friend Priti Radhakrishnan, now an attorney working in India, wrote a few weeks back to see if I could look at her friend’s portfolio. I always welcome the opportunity to critique other people’s photography and suggest ways that could make their images better, stronger or more effective.
What piqued my interest in Tahir Amin is his drive to combine photography and activism, something that my dear friend and mentor Shahidul Alam has done for several decades now. It’s perhaps the most noble pursuit I can imagine.
As a way of introducing Tahir, I asked him to send me a few lines about himself, so here they are:
Tahir Amin is a lawyer from the UK currently working with the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore, India on intellectual property issues and its affect on the public domain. Following his departure from the corporate legal world he has been an activist in the U.K Stop the War Coalition, the International Solidarity Movement as an international peace activist/observer in the West Bank, Palestine and currently working on legal issues for the Affordable Medicine Treatment campaign in India.
Activism/protest or simply disseminating information for a cause can be done in many ways, though usually in the form of writing or actual physical protest. However, Tahir believes the power of visuals through photography are equally relevant forms of activism and protest, as images rarely fail to have at least some impact on the neutral observer. From images of the millions of people protesting in London, to the destruction and conflict in Palestine, to protests against patents and the right to medicine, the camera is not only able to tell a story, but it also acts as an instrument of awareness, protest and activism.
He is currently preparing to carry out photography projects around India, in particular, raising awareness about rural India’s intersection of art and activism to empower local artists, a project for an NGO in Bombay working on placing homeless children in schools in order to raise funds, a look into the lives of refugees from Tibet living in one of the largest Tibetan settlements in India, as well as the Tsunami relief effort in the eyes of the dalits in Tamil Nadu. He is also planning to return to Palestine in the future.
Tahir sent me some 21 images. Now instead of just my perspective, I offered to post each of the 21 images here, one a day, so that the community at large that visits Tiffinbox can give him the guidance and positive criticism he needs to grow as an image maker. I do hope you will join me in this month-long project and use the commenting feature of this site to post your feedback.
Focus on both what works and what does not. Offer your advice on how the image could be better conceived and produced. Ask whether the captions are sufficient. Probe Tahir for his reasons why he chose a particular perspective, lens, distance or quality of light. If you would like to get in touch with Tahir directly, please email him at the following address: tahir.amin [at] btopenworld [dot] com.