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Photography gave me an identity: Roshni Khatri



Born and brought up in New Delhi, India, Roshni Khatri moved to New York to study at the International Center of Photography. Now, she is freelancing out of New York and working for different publications there. In a freewheeling conversation with QNA, Roshni talks about her journey, her inspiration, how she is dealing with the Corona crisis, and much more:

What inspired you to become a photographer?

Roshni Khatri: There isn’t one specific thing that I can think of that inspired me to become a photographer. Since I was doing well academically, my parents, like most Asian parents, wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer. When I was 15, I had taken a few photos at school and my elder brother looked at them and he encouraged me to buy my first proper camera, after which I started taking photos. I was known as the girl with the camera at school. I convinced my parents to let me continue doing what I loved and they have always supported me. I just loved taking photos, it became a way I could meet people and see the world. Photography gave me an identity.

What role do you think a photographer has in the media? How important are the pictures for readers and the stories?

Roshni Khatri: Visuals that we see in each era, be it in the news or advertisements, in multiple ways define that era. In a story, images get the readers closer to the subject/situation. It gives news an element of reality which makes it easier to not only draw the viewer’s attention but make it more relatable. Can you imagine a newspaper without images? I think photographs complete stories.

Why did you choose the International Center of Photography? How it changed you as a person and photographer?

Roshni Khatri: ICP is one of the best photo schools in the world. From the history of the school to the community that comes with it, everything about ICP is incredible. The best thing about the school is that nearly 70% of students are international, which made my classroom a really unique place to grow in with people from all walks of life from around the globe. With a fantastic faculty and the landscape of New York, ICP was a dream come true. From shooting with a large format camera to getting access to editors that support your work, my one year at ICP gave me opportunities that make me the photographer I am today.

New York is in a lot of crisis because of the corona pandemic. Are you still working in this time? How challenging is the situation right now?

Roshni Khatri: Times are really tough in New York. The pandemic has been a reason for massive uncertainty and unemployment. I know many friends who are sick and ailing. Every time I open social media, I read about somebody who died because of the virus. I am staying at home, trying to not get too anxious, taking a few pictures, catching up on my reading, editing, researching for new projects. All my shoots are cancelled for the next two months. Times are really challenging but I am just grateful for being healthy and hoping for things to get better soon.

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