Say cheese in style

Doing story about tribes is not an easy job, says first woman documentary photographer in South India

Chennai, Mar 7: ”To become a successful photographer, you need patience and dedication’, says S Sai Priya aka Castle Mountains, a resident of the Anna Nagar, who has made a name for herself as a successful documentary lenswoman.

As part of International Women’s Day, News Today caught up with Sai Priya to know more about her achievements in her chosen field. Popular for her documentaries on tribes across the country, her works about life of wrestlers and Aghoris are admired a lot. She has won many awards and accolades for her works.
She says, ‘I love travelling. I visited many cities and towns with my friends. I never fail to take pictures of the places that I go. My friends appreciated my work and it encouraged to try more. I chose my passion as my profession that led me to buy a DSLR camera”.

”I am the first woman documentary photographer in South India and I proud about it. Till today, I visited 17 States (including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Telangana) and travelled around 300 places. I have met more than 20 tribal groups in India and covered 40 of their festivals and did some documentary projects too. All these works are possible because I do lot of research before I start my travel. I also learnt Hindi for the purpose’.

”Doing a documentary about tribes is not an easy job. I have to be careful when I go to remote places alone. On many occasions, I eat what the tribes offer me. Recently I went to Arunachal Pradesh and they gave me cooked green leaves with little salt, which I found very difficult to eat. I initially thought that they are avoiding me by providing tasteless food. But realised later they gave whatever they had. I regularly take some rice mix and spice along with me to overcome such issues”.

She adds, ”My work demands patience, dedication and acceptance from tribes. I will have lot of conversation with women tribe and get acquainted with him.”

Turning a page from her travel diary, she says, ”I feel those in Gujarat are warm and cosy. When they came to know that I am from another State, few of them paid for my food and even the auto-drivers came forward to help me without any cost.”

Asked about the difficulties that she face, Sai Priya, ‘I spend lot for every project, but I get little support from sponsors and contributors. If the government help me, I can come out with more documentaries on tribes’.

S Solomon Raj