Noticed Google’s doodle lately where it shows a woman with a camera? Wondering who she is? She is Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first woman photojournalist!
Vyarawalla was known for widely photographing India’s transition from the British Raj to an independent country after its subsequent partition.
Hailing from Navsari in Gujarat, Vyarawalla moved to Bombay to pursue a diploma at St Xavier’s College before moving on for further studies at the JJ School of Arts. She was introduced to photography by her husband Manekcshaw Vyarawala, a photographer with Times of India.
Vyarawala worked with the British Information Services and was a familiar sight in Delhi, sari-clad, travelling around Delhi on a cycle.
Homai learnt photography by trial and error, just like most other things in life. She believed that the key to a good photograph is timing, composition and angle but also says that “nobody can teach you composition or to take the right angle. It comes automatically. It’s like an artist — you can teach him how to draw but can you teach him to make a good picture? There are 15 people taking a photograph at the same time; each has his own style. But there’s only one who gets the right moment and the right angle,” she had revealed in an interview.
Her key photographs as a photo-journalist:
- Capturing the first Flag that was hoisted at the Red Fort on August 15, 1947
- Departure of the last Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten from India
- Funerals of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
- Photographing Queen Elizabeth’s and former United States president, Dwight Eisenhower’s visits to India.
She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India in 2011. She passed away at the age of 98 in 2012 in Vadodara, Gujarat.