The Hasselblad Foundation has just awarded its highest prize to Indian photographer Dayanita Singh. Considered one of the greatest photographic honors in the world, the Hasselblad Prize recognizes the major achievements of a single photographer who has achieved pioneering achievements in the field of photography, who inspires a young generation and has worked on projects of international significance.
Dayanita Singh never wanted to be a photographer. His passion was typography and his dream was to invent a new type. While studying at the National Institute of Design in New Delhi, India, Singh literally fell in her career following an embarrassing misstep at a Zakir Hussain concert that changed her life.
As a woman living in 1980s India, her path was almost set for her: to get married, have children and devote herself to hobbies. Photography gave him freedom; a means of escaping a woman’s social obligations and allowed her to live and work where she wanted. It didn’t take her long to fall in love with photography.
But taking photos alone wasn’t enough, Singh wanted a way to display the photos where she could control the narrative. “I firmly believe that photographs are raw material and that you have to build something with them,” she told the Hasselblad Foundation. “It’s a bit like being a chef, you can’t buy the best vegetable and serve it to people for dinner… for me, you have to build a whole kitchen out of that.”
To date, Singh has published 14 books on topics covering everything from family life in India to the relationship between photography, memory and writing, and how the transformation of day into night can make some things more mysterious. .
Dayanita Singh is the first woman of Indian descent to receive the prestigious Hasselblad Prize, awarded annually since 1980. Previous winners include photography legends Cindy Sherman, Lee Friedlander, Josef Koudelka and Ansel Adams.
When asked before receiving the awards, Singh said, “If I were to receive the Hasselblad award, what I would really like to do is set up a system where I can encourage critical writing in photography every year and, in a way, reclaiming what Robert Frank did for me.”
Singh is an inspirational photographer, drawn to both images and words, and understands the importance of photo books for both author and reader. No doubt she will use her prize money to motivate other photographers to use more writing in their work and print more books. To keep up to date with her latest releases or to learn more about Dayanita Singh, head over to her website.
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