Pablo Bartholomew is renowned as the ace photojournalist of India and also a leading photographer. He is based at New Delhi, India. A noted photographer himself, he also runs photography classes and holds photography workshops in different cities. He also manages MediaWeb, a software company which specializes in photo database solutions and server-based digital archiving systems.
In 2013, he was honoured by the Government of India with one of the highest civilian awards, the Padma Shri. He is also a recipient of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France in 2014.
Pablo Bartholomew was born on 18 December 1955 in New Delhi, India. His father, Richard Bartholomew was a well-known art critic of India; and also a painter, poet, and photographer. His father was a refugee from Burma who settled in Delhi. Rati Batra, his mother was a Partition refugee, and a well-known theatre activist and one of the founders of Yatrik, a theatre company established in 1964.
Bartholomew studied at Modern School, Delhi where his father was an English teacher. He left schooling and became a school dropout when he was in class nine. He then took to photography with immense passion. Bartholomew learnt his first photography lessons at home, in his father’s darkroom. His early photographs were of his family, friends, people and life on the streets, including the worlds of the marginalized rag pickers, sex workers, beggars, and eunuchs.
Later he engrossed himself in the city’s emerging theatre scene. In the ’70s, he produced a series of events based on rock music accompanied with slide and film projection and live performers. He called it “Thru Pablo’s Eyes”.
For a living and to finance his photo documentary projects, he worked in advertising as a stills photographer. He also worked with Satyajit Ray on the sets of Shatranj ke Khilari (1977); and later with Richard Attenborough on the sets of his Gandhi (1982). In 1975, he got the First Prize by World Press Photo for his series “Time is the mercy of eternity”. This was a photo-story on the morphine addicts in India.
Career and Accomplishments in Photojournalism
From 1984 to 2000, Bartholomew represented the French-American news photo agency, Gamma Liaison. During this period, he covered conflicts and developments in the South Asian region. His photographs were published in the top journals of the world, such as the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, Business Week, National Geographic, GEO, Der Spiegel, Figaro, Paris Match, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, and Observer Magazine, and many more.
He also covered monumental events like the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the rise of the Khalistani movement, the funeral of Indira Gandhi, the aftermath of her assassination, the political career of Rajiv Gandhi, the funeral of Mother Teresa, the cyclones in Bangladesh, the Nellie conflict in Assam, and the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and many other news stories. He risked his life in covering many of the events.
He won the World Press Photo of the Year in 1984 for his iconic image of a half-buried child victim of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Career and Accomplishments in Photography
In 1979, he held his first photography exhibition at the Art Heritage Gallery, New Delhi. Next year, in 1979, he held exhibition at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 2005, he exhibited his work at Month of Photography in Tokyo.
In July 2007, he exhibited his work at the Rencontres d’Arles in France. It was called Outside In: A Tale of Three Cities, and consisted of his photographs from three cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata. In 2008, the show came to the National Museum, New Delhi; then to the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai; and then to Bodhi Art, New York; and in 2009, to Bodhi Berlin. In 2013, its 12th showing was held at ChobiMela in Dhaka.
He has held a number of fellowships including one from the Asian Cultural Council, New York in 1987, and in 1995 from the Institute of Comparative Studies in Human Culture, Norway.
During 2001 and 2003 he ran photography workshops in India with the help of World Press Photo Foundation in Amsterdam. Among his photo essays are “The Chinese in Calcutta,” “The Indians in America,” and “The Naga Tribes of Northeast India”.
Inspirational Quotes by Pablo Bartholomew
“If I died tomorrow you could say ‘Jay was satisfied.”
“Photography can be done in a personal way. You may earn your money elsewhere and keep photography as a passion. And you shoot the shit out of everything around you.”
“I’m proud that I’ve been able to accomplish something that can never be matched.”
“Photography, in so far as it is a visual art with plastic principles, endeavours to bring the world near to the human eye, an approach that is intimate, revealing, visionary.”
“The value of a photograph depends on who is looking at it.”
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah