Of all of us in the field, photojournalists are the bravest and take the most risks. More than any reporter-writer does.
And their work bears witness in ways that surpass in a single frame any story told in hundreds of words. All photojournalists carry the capacity to stun us and alert us at the same time, their cameras literally become the eyes of society, every frame a part of history. The best among them, as Danish was, bear witness with sensitivity and quiet flair, shooting frames which remain witness to the history of those moments, capturing entire stories in those pixels.
Danish’s passing has brought back the highest regard I have always had for photojournalists. As reporters-writers, we take risks. They go a few steps further. See Danish’s frames of the last year, the shooter on Delhi’s streets or the Rohingya refugees or the Muslim man being lynched (where people weren’t allowed to whip out their mobiles, he got this frame).
I’m thinking also of others like Raghu Rai (Bhopal gas tragedy being one example), Prashant Panjiar (rath yatra and it’s bloody trail, Babri demolition) late Hemant Pithwa, Fawzan Husain, Sherwin Crasto and others with whom I covered Bombay riots, Mahendra Parikh, Neeraj Priyadarshi, Kevin D’souza, Sebastian D’Souza (that Ajmal Kasab photo) and so many former colleagues and friends. Rai, the only one in this list I didn’t work with.
In places like Reuters, they are taught to evaluate risks, reach decisions on when to stay in a place and when to run, how to find cover and so on. Yet, all of this falls short on some days and someone like Danish goes.
He went bearing witness to yet another unfolding tragedy of our times, capturing people’s travails and trauma in frames. His work will always be cited.
And then to see the organised mocking of his work, celebration of his death, scorn for who he was, is just gutting.
What have we become as a people?!