An interaction session with a senior photojournalist

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Catching up with and bestowing continuity to the trend of inviting esteemed personalities of various critical sectors to the premises of Internship Nepal, this past week we had another inspirational individual grace us with his grip. Mr. Narendra Shrestha, a Nepalese correspondent of European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) was warmly welcomed by students at Internship Nepal home at midday. Mr. Shrestha is a reputable photographer and journalist who has been exclusively published in prominent and highly regarded newspapers - ‘The Guardian’, ‘The Wall Street Journal’ and ‘The Daily Mail’ to name a few.

The session took off with Mr. Shrestha sharing some picturesque and almost nostalgic photographs of the Late King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya Rajya Laxmi. In the picture, the deceased King and Queen are seen casually taking a walk in the streets of Thamel. Mr. Narendra briefly outlined how that particular scenario would become the turning point of his life later in his career. Besides, he has also captured two of the most significant historical events of the country- The Maoist Insurgency and The People’s Movement. The interns were curious yet astounded to witness such influential coverage of incidents that unfortunately turned many women into widows and made children orphans.

It came to light that he had also managed to document some photographs during the April 2015 earthquake in what he recalls to be one of the most heartbreaking moments of his life. The interns were uninterruptedly listening to his dreadful experience of having to choose between protecting his family and pursuing his profession. Moreover, Mr. Narendra presented photographs of the victims who were affected by the flood this year at southern plains of Nepal. The photographs portrayed misery of the people whose entire village was submerged by rising water due to relentless rainfall. Although students were disheartened to get glimpses of such agonizing pictures, they genuinely appreciated Mr. Narendra’s story and diligence behind every photograph.

Coming towards the end of his beautiful and vividly real presentation, interns were offered the opportunity to ask Mr. Narendra questions to which he answered whole-heartedly. Some interns were curious about the availability of internet at the remote areas, whereas others were interested in knowing Mr. Narendra’s favorite camera. Overall the interaction program was very informative and inspiring as the interns learned about the risks and responsibilities that journalists take during their field work. It was for our students to contemplate that behind every powerful photo, there’s a hidden story which spectators are usually unaware of.

The lesson, in hindsight is a deeper one though. As fascinating a profession photojournalism is, the emotions, the pain and the many shades of reality are more affirmed here than anywhere else.

By Sweza Rajbhandari