Best Indian Documentary photographers on Instagram

Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle events or environments both significant and relevant to history and historical events as well as everyday life. Here, we have listed our favorite best Indian documentary photographers on Instagram for you to follow, in no particular order.

Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality…One can’t possess reality, one can possess images – one can’t possess the present but one can possess the past’.
Susan Sontag.  1977. On Photography. New York: Anchor Books.

Documentary photography has always come with a great responsibility: capturing the true essence of reality. Each of these projects demonstrates the persistent authority that photographers have always relied on – that a camera allows you to step into communities and situations and take a look and also to step back, reflect and comment. We uncover some of the best Indian documentary photographers on Instagram who has shared a secret from the past, for you to discover.

Here’s the list of our favorite and best Indian documentary photographers on Instagram, you can follow right now!

Dar Yasin

Dar Yasin is an Indian photographer and journalist. He was one of three photojournalists from Associated Press to win the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2020 for his pictures of India’s crackdown on Kashmir. Dar Yasin is one of the best Indian Documentary Photographers on Instagram.

He won in several contests such as NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism, POYi, and Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar. He received Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, National Headliner Awards, and Sigma Delta Chi Award. Also, he was a part of the AP team which has won Hal Boyle Award & Robert F. Kennedy Award for Rohingya crisis coverage. He also won the 2019 Yannis Behrakis International Photojournalism Award.

Dar was born in 1973 in Kashmir, India. He studied computer science and technology baccalaureate from South India. He lives in Srinagar. On assignment in Afghanistan, he has covered the Afghan War, Afghan Refugees, and Daily life of war-torn Afghanis. Dar has also covered the Rohingya refugee crisis who fled large- scale violence and persecution in Myanmar. His works have appeared in all the major newspapers and news magazines around the globe.

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Samar Singh Jodha is a photographer and installation artist who, over the last 25 years, has been using photography, film, and public art projects to address various issues such as community development and conservation. One of his best creations is Bhopal – a silent picture. Samar is one of the best Indian Documentary Photographers on Instagram.

Additionally, Samar’s skills and experience have been sought after in the commercial and professional world. Most recently, Samar has been a judge on Nat Geo Cover Shot, an ongoing award-winning reality TV show, mentoring professional photographers. Samar has been commissioned by the likes of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, BBC World Service Trust and the United Nations. In Dubai, he conceptualized the documenting of the building of Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai under the title of “History in the Making”. The six-year project included a number of films and exhibitions for Emaar, the Skyscraper Museum in New York City, Nat Geo, and the Discovery Channel.


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Altaf qadri

Working across Asia and beyond, Altaf Qadri is a highly respected and award-winning documentary photographer who for more than 15 years has been at the cutting edge of international photojournalism.

He is also a well-experienced conflict photographer who has documented everything from deadly street battles in his native Kashmir to full-blown international and civil wars such as those in Afghanistan and Libya, wherein 2012 he spent around two days hiding behind the lines of General Gadaffi’s advancing forces. Altaf Qadri is one of the best Indian Documentary Photographers on Instagram.

A 2007 National Geographic All Roads Fellow, has won numerous awards and accolades include winning the World Press Photo twice, multiple Photographer of the Year International awards among many others. To impart photojournalism education to people interested in different genres of photography, Altaf has co-founded School of Narrative & Aesthetic Photography (SNAP) through which he takes students to photography expeditions and photo workshops.


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Avani Rai

A young photographer based out of Mumbai, India. Avani Rai has worked as a cameraperson on a number of short films. Uski Baarish premiered at Clermond Ferrand, Tiff, etc. She has worked in fiction and documentary. As a photographer, she has contributed to the Sunday Guardian, Scroll, The Wire.
“I have a brain and agar pressure hota toh stupid photo keenchungi. I am happy without the pressure and he (Raghu Rai) is also proud that I am going to shoot. He doesn’t say ‘Wow you have arrived’ but speaks of an image and an experience.”

Her recent, a film directed/shot by her Raghu Rai-An Unframed Portrait’, co-produced by ARTE FRANCE, IDFA BERTHA FUND premiered at IDFA in the competition in November 2017. She has been working on a book of photographs on the valley for some time now, aiming to publish this year. 

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Ronny Sen

Ronny Sen (b. 1986, Silchar) is a film director, writer, and photographer based in Calcutta. His debut feature film ‘Cat Sticks‘ world premiered in the competition section at Slamdance Film Festival, 2019 where it won the jury honorable mention. Ronny has previously directed television documentaries for BBC. Definitely, he is one of the best Indian Documentary Photographers on Instagram.

Ronny Sen started his career as a photographer and has made two artist books, Khmer Din (2013) and End of Time (2016). He was invited to be an artist in residence in Japan by The Japan Foundation in 2013 and in Poland by the Polish Institute in 2016. Received the Getty Images Instagram Grant in 2016 for his work in Jharia coal mines which were shown in his debut solo exhibition in 2018 titled, Fire Continuum at gallery Tarq in Mumbai.
His works are included in the permanent collection of the Alkazi Collection of Photography.


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Masrat Zahra

“I am among the very few female photojournalists in Kashmir and have been working really hard to learn and to create my space for the past four years. They (police) want to silence me. They want to suppress me as I bring out the repressed voices and stories of Kashmir,” she said after she was labeled as a police informer after she shared an image from an encounter site on her Facebook.

Masrat Zahra (born 8 December 1993) is a freelance  Kashmiri photojournalist. The Kashmir-based freelance photojournalist’s images depicting conflict in the Indian-controlled region and its toll on local communities were praised by the jury for their “humanity” and her particular focus on the stories of women. Zahra won the 2020 “Anja Niedringhaus Courage” in Photojournalism award from International Women’s Media Foundation.

Zahra studied journalism at Central University of Kashmir. She photographs the Kashmir conflict and her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Humanitarian, TRT World, Al Jazeera, The Caravan, The Sun, The News Arab, and The World Weekly.

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Tauseef Mustafa

A photojournalist working with an international news agency, Agence France Presse (AFP), Tauseef Mustafa has covered wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. Last year he was on a month-long assignment to Bangladesh to cover the Rohingya crisis.

“I even covered the first election in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Husain,” says a frail-structured Mustafa, with an unkempt beard.

He vividly remembers two incidents when he had a close shave with death. “The first incident happened in Shigal Valley in Afghanistan in 2009 when a convoy of US troops we were traveling with came under attack from the Taliban. The other time I escaped narrowly in Allepo city of Syria in 2012, when we got caught in intense firing between state forces and rebel groups,” recalls Mustafa, with a smile on his face. Tauseef Mustafa is one of the best Indian Documentary Photographers on Instagram.

His profile also includes the 2010 commonwealth games which were held in New Delhi and has covered all visiting prime ministers to Kashmir from the times of H.D. Deve Gowda. Mustafa has been in the field for the past 26 years. He got his first break in AP in 1996 and his first major assignment was the Kargil War.

“This is for the first time in my career that I have been stopped from discharging my professional duties,” says Mustafa about the January 26 incident. In fact, he said, he was the first name on the list of blacklisted journalists. “This seems to be mischief to scare us away,” he explains.


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Channi Anand

Around midnight Monday of 5’th May’2020, when Channi Anand, 50, heard his name announced among the winners of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, he started crying. Anand could not believe he had become one of the three photographers from South Asia to achieve the feat this year.

“It is indeed a moment of pride for me, my family, the people of J&K, and especially the media fraternity. I think this award is in recognition of my long struggle of 23 years,” he stated after the prestigious achievement.

Channi Anand is based in Jammu, a strategic location not far from the India-Pakistan border that experiences frequent cross border violence. Seeing people flee their homes has become routine but it still affects him each time he covers stories of displacement. He has followed political developments between the neighbors relentlessly for the Associated Press since 2000.

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Manish Swarup

Manish Swarup is an eminent Indian photojournalist with a wide body of work. He’s been working with Associated Press (AP) for 14 years, and has extensive experience covering conflict situations with his lens, whether it’s strife-torn Afghanistan and Syria, or self-immolation protests closer home. Manish Swarup is one of the best Indian Documentary Photographers on Instagram.

When the Tibetan man, his body ablaze and fire of defiance in his eyes, rushed towards Manish Swarup, Swarup had two instinctive reactions. He could help douse the flames. Or he could do what he is supposed to do as a photojournalist. Swarup decided to press the shutter of his camera.

“In that one instant I decided to shoot because I felt it was more important for me to show what he wanted to say through his act,” says Swarup. “But maybe if I had been alone, with little help for him around, my reaction would have been to help him. Later I felt terribly sad about the incident, but as a photographer, you deal in moments: you’re either there to capture them or not.”

He is based in New Delhi, from where he covers all aspects of Indian life. His famous book, Bangladesh – A Brutal Birth, remains an important visual document of the war.

AP Images

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Arko Datto

Indian photographer Arko Datto (b.1986) completed two masters degrees in theoretical physics and mathematics before deciding to take a “leap of faith into photography”. After studying photography at the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus, his long-term projects have since been published in leading international publications, such as  TIME and  National Geographic.

By incorporating and developing diverse visual languages and styles, he wants to push the boundaries of both still and moving images. He was on his way to a doctorate in theoretical sciences before I decided to change course. Apart from working on his own visual projects, he also enjoys curating the works of others.

Click Here for the list of The Best 30 Indian Films Every Photographer Should Watch!

Nitesh Noor Mohanty

Nitesh Mohanty is a visual artist who works at the fluid intersection of arts, culture, media, communication and self-reflection. His theoretical interests are also wide, often inquiring about the roots and fundamentals of art history, storytelling, and philosophy. He is currently heading the Crafting Creative Communication Programme at MICA where he shares the relationship between art, design, photography & cinema through a course called ‘Ways of Seeing’. 

He’s just self-published his first photo book, titled Nowhere. 

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Smita Sharma

Smita Sharma is an independent photojournalist based in Delhi. Smita’s work primarily focusses on human rights, gender, health, and social issues.

Her work has been published in various international publications including The Washington Post, The New York Times, BBC World,  TIME, The Globe and Mail, Spiegel, Channel 4, Caravan Magazine among others.
Smita graduated in photojournalism and documentary photography from the International Center of Photography, New York in 2013, and has a post-graduate diploma in Journalism from the University of Pune.

Born and raised in Shillong, India, she has lived and traveled for work in South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the USA. 


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Vivek Singh

Vivek has been photographing and documenting a fascinatingly fragmented jigsaw of indigenous peoples in one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse regions of Asia, where cultures and facial features have more in common with Burma and Tibet than with mainstream India, and, where armed conflicts are the norm with 26 active armed groups in five of the seven states.

Alongside, Vivek works on regular editorial commissions,  contributing regularly to clients including,  The Wall Street Journal, California Sunday Magazine, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times, Al Jazeera, Der Spiegel, Fortune Magazine US, Buzzfeed News (US), The New York Times(India Ink-Blog), The Globe and Mail (Report On Business Magazine), Fast Company Magazine, CNN and Turner, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Caravan Magazine(India).

Most notable among his recent work was for about a rape survivor from a tribe in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, whose landmark case had awakened India decades before the recent outrage over rape in its capital Delhi, and for The Caravan on a maverick Baptist pastor’s fight against HIV/AIDS in the hills of Nagaland, bordering Burma.


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Sana Irshad Matto

“Kashmir is an open prison,” said Sanna Irshad Mattoo s a freelance photojournalist based in India-administered Kashmir. She has been covering encounters, clashes, and funerals for more than two years now.

Recalling an incident she said, “There was a curfew and I was shooting in downtown Srinagar. A police officer called and asked me what I was doing. They asked me for my ID card and told me to stop shooting. This was my experience with the police here. Such checks and interrogation have become routine”.

Sanna believes gender makes no difference, work alone does. She is one of our Best Indian Documentary Photographers on Instagram.

Click Here for the list of The Best 30 Indian Films Every Photographer Should Watch!

Well, this is it… hope you guys gather a lot of information from this blog. Stay home, stay safe, and maintaining social distance. We will come with a new blog to keep yourself informed, and updated.

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