Across my work, I make sure there is nothing exaggerated nor hidden.
In Kashmir, the job of reporting is like treading a razor’s edge around the clock; one faces animosity and hatred from all sides.
Journalists are intimidated and harassed while doing their job in an extremely hostile environment.
Receiving the forefront of this oppression are the photojournalists and camera crew of various media whose presence is being frowned upon by the Indian troops. After all, such visual journalists are more noticeable to the soldiers—they carry equipment along with them and any use of their equipment is not appreciated by the Indian army.
But after having shot likely over 6,000 assignments for newspapers, let me humbly submit that reality is…complicated.
Anyone who says otherwise is guilty of oversimplification, lack of experience, or self-righteous mendacity. Your itinerary and transportation was set-up by the reporter, who had many situations to fit into a very tight schedule (frankly, you’re all just lucky to be there at all given dwindling budgets).Today, he brings the high standards of conflict zone photojournalism into his every day work covering political and social life and also to his personal projects.Throughout his work, Qadri remains a detached witness more than an artist—his aim is to portray rather than express an opinion.As Qadri was born an ethnic Kashmiri Muslim but raised in the Indian-controlled part of the region, he received good lessons about conflict from a young age.Later, he would become well-known for his coverage of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya, but his first experiences came early: “Being a photographer here in Kashmir is a struggle between the common people, the Indian forces and yourself.”Later, what Qadri learned from the battlefields abroad informed his work closer to home.The path epitomizes the crazy risks affecting the kid.But it’s Friday, and for some odd reason the boy doesn’t work the day you’re there. You refuse to have any part in showing a reality that was not normally happening in front of you. You walk with the child through his path, and see an amazing picture that demonstrates the danger to the poor child.But fifty shades of grey suits some people just fine.As Pontius Pilate infamously said before washing his hands, “What is truth?A voice in the crowd calls out, “Hey, how about a shot at your desk? You refuse to take a picture that was prompted by a member of the media (…or was it prompted by an aide? Essentially, you kick the “ethics can” down the road to the photo desk. You photograph the scene, comfortable that because you didn’t stage the photograph, it’s ok. You agree to shoot in the office, but refuse to photograph anything but the mob of people, accepting that most every other news outlet will go with the video or still of him at his desk. While rappelling down, one of the men says, “Wanna see something? At the airport, you discover your flight is delayed and you can’t make it that morning.You call and they graciously and earnestly offer to wait for you before heading to the child’s grave. You say, no thank you, I’ll just get a portrait of you at home. You say, ok yes please wait for me, I’ll see you shortly. You tell them, thank you but I’ll only go the cemetery to take a portrait and not anything that might look real because my concerns as an ethical photographer trump your hourly reality as bereaved parents. You arrive to 30% of your assignments and the subjects ask you, “What do you want me to do? The documentary photographer inside of you screams inside, in multiple waves of pain that leaves you with an empty, shattered sense of the way journalism is supposed to be. You don’t respond because anything you say would be directing or leading your subject.