Unlike in the West, where there has been a development of many divergent styles within photography, in India, only photographs which fall within a narrow range of formats enjoy a viewership and are patronized. While this development in the West has come with its own set of problems, it gives us a source from which to draw inspiration, and also understand the potential pitfalls. It is up to us to sidestep the mistakes made elsewhere, draw from ideas from around the world, and aptly integrate them into the local context. Needless to say, photography criticism and broader cultural criticisms are necessary for such divergent practices to be understood and sustained.
In the specific context of photography, the defining silence of the medium is sometimes a curse, for it becomes difficult to draw the viewer’s full attention to it. This silence has resulted in some of the most original of practitioners, both in the Indian and the global contexts, being left “undiscovered” by the public. It is, therefore, necessary that this silence be broken at times with words to unravel the secrets of the medium and open it for the viewer to explore. Literature makes it possible to discuss the ideas and experiences provided by photography, just as it can discuss all art forms. However, photography criticism in the Indian context is still at a nascent stage and has not been as influential in the practice of the medium as art criticism generally has been, whereas the format of the magazine has been used to largely promote commercial intents as far as photography is concerned.
Photomail online magazine is an initiative of EtP which seeks to open discussions and debates related to photography and related art forms, both in English and regional languages. A periodic print version of Photomail is also being considered.