From the Mailbag: Trikaya Photos

We welcome you to have a look at Indian photo agency Trikaya, who been in touch with us to display some fine work from the subcontinent. “Trikaya Photos was founded in the year 2007 in Chennai, India, as a platform for photographers to express their individual vision in a journalistic way. This agency functions like a cooperative. It’s an association of photographers who have the liberty of choosing their subjects and the way of approaching them.” (link)
M. Scott asks a few questions and Nancy Boissel Cormier from Trikaya answers.

dvafoto: What does the name Trikaya mean?

TRIKAYA means three body or three dimension. We choose this name because the first idea was that the third dimension is the dimension of reality, which we try to catch through photography. It is also the union of three photographers who desire to create a cooperative in India.

dvafoto: How did Trikaya start? Why did it start?

Trikaya in an history of meeting between a French and two Indian photographers in 2005. They were travelling together to catch stories about Indian festivals of different faiths. They made an exhibition together in Chennai, and decided to formalize their work trough an agency. This project resulted in 2007. They decided to create this agency to show their work without any concession.

dvafoto: What makes Trikaya different?

Trikaya is the first cooperative of photographers which was created in India. Generally the Indian photographers are affiliated to magazines or are independents. It is the first structure in India which allows photographers to choose their subjects, without relying on the editorial line of the Indian press or international big agencies.
The photographers of Trikaya are also able to show rare festivals and rituals which are disappearing in India and which were not previously photographed as we know. Trikaya is also the only author’s agency which is present in India and which can be contacted for assignments by the international press.

dvafoto: Where is Trikaya’s work being published? Do you have any luck getting your work in front of editors in New York, etc.?

This is the beginning of the story. Trikaya has being published for example in Ojodepez, and some on-line photo magazines like 100 Eyes. Trikaya made the bet to be published in the international press, but this takes time and Trikaya has experienced the crisis of the press like any other agency.

dvafoto: Historically, international photography has been European and American photographers going out into the rest of the world. Lately, there’s been a shift toward local photographers, both for wire work (AP, Reuters) and for freelance work. Do you see that shift? Has Trikaya benefited from that shift?

Trikaya hasn’t benefited from that shift yet, but this agency was also created in relation to this movement while retaining his own artistic integrity: magazines can contact the agency directly for orders in India, Bangladesh and Thailand as our photographers and structure are there.

dvafoto: Are you able to get assignment fees and dayrates comparable to what foreign photographers get?

As Trikaya is based in India, we are able to to get assignment fees and dayrates at a lower cost for magazines. It makes us competitive without breaking market prices

dvafoto: How is the local market? Is there a culture of photojournalism and documentary work in the Indian market?

The local market is changing because of the internet. As everything is being transformed we do not know what leads us for the rights and the survival of photographers. We are in a economy of globalisation and everything is standardized. But photographer’s profession remains extremely precarious in India.
Of course, there is a culture of photo journalism in India even if it is recent, but the problem it is the support and the rights of the photographer. There is no structure (competition, scholarships, local agencies) to help them.
There is also a new wave of talented photographers in Bangladesh and in India who appeared these last years.

dvafoto: What other photographers/magazines/blogs/agencies/etc. from India should we know about, especially those producing and publishing great photography?

The magazine Tehelka has a good editorial and a great quality and rigour in the writing and the stories. Some well known photographers like the Magnum correspondent in India Raghu Rai and the new generation of photographers as Sohrab Hura and Zishaan Latif that we like.

dvafoto: What stories has Trikaya covered that the international media should be paying attention to?

The story about Kashmir, and all the stories about the festivals which are put in danger of disappearance in modern India. At present Senthil Kumaran is making a work on the Tamil refugees of Sri Lanka in the South of India. Trikaya welcomes also these days Olivier Sarbil, based in Thailand, who makes a work about the Karen resistance in Burma, and who works at present on the insurgents in the South of Thailand.

The new team of Trikaya Photos in 2010 consists in the team of 5 photographers :
Yannick Cormier, India
N. Jaisingh, India
Senthil Kumaran, India
Adnan Wahid, Bangladesh
Olivier Sarbil, Thailand

2 Responses to “From the Mailbag: Trikaya Photos”

  1. From the Mailbag: Trikaya Photos | Indian Today

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  2. M. Scott Brauer

    Ouch…just reading this finally and saw the bit about cutting dayrates. Not a good thing to hear.

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