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Morung Express News
Dimapur | January 21
Kekhriezhazo Miachieo, a Naga Photojournalist based in Delhi has been awarded the TFA-Tasveer Emerging Photographer Award 2017 – an annual photography award that recognises young talents in the country.
Set up in memory of Toto ‘Angirus’ Vellani, the Thirteenth Annual Toto Funds the Arts’ (TFA) Awards for young photographers, filmmakers, writers, musicians and bands was held in Bangalore on January 7.
Zhazo, as he is better known, was awarded for his heart-rending photos of children abusing drugs. The series of 12 pictures is titled “Cycle of Street Life”.
Speaking to The Morung Express, Zhazo, who works with India Today as a Photojournalist, says that it took him nearly 3 years juggling between assignments to finish the project.
“I tried to go and be as close to the subjects as possible,” he says revealing that he avoided using telephoto zoom lenses. But it was no easy task as it meant putting himself in vulnerable situations.
Threatened more than a few times while taking photographs, Zhazo recalls that he was also nearly stabbed twice – once with a scissor and another time with a pen. “They were mostly high (on drugs),” he recollects.
Describing his work, Zhazo says that there are about 1.5-2 lakh kids in the streets of the national capital indulging in substance abuse. According to a study conducted by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Substance Abuse by Children, the average age of these children is 13.7 years and alarmingly, most are school dropouts.
These young and restless resorts to substance abuse inevitably end up committing criminal offences – including murder. Most of the street kids take on the job of rag picking where they collect wastes like empty water bottles and tin scraps and sell them at junk stores. This earns them about Rs 150- 200 daily and the money is then the used to procure drugs from peddlers.
Apart from the imminent criminal activities, the vulnerability to diseases like AIDS, through needle sharing for instance, is hauntingly high for these young substance abusers.
The Tasveer Journal, an online magazine for photography describes Zhazo’s work as a project dealing with the darker realities of society made particularly poignant through his focus on children.
“Miachieo’s graphic high-contrast monochromatic images reflect the starkness of the world that his young substance abusers inhabit,” the online portal said of Zhazo’s work. The sensitivity that the photographer displays toward their subjects produces poignant, heart-rending windows into these young lives, it added.
Nearly two weeks after receiving the award, Zhazo’s name finds no mention in the local media but as someone who likes to keep a low profile, he isn’t much perturbed.
The 29-year old from Kohima travels every other month on assignments. Notable among the assignments he has covered so far include the Uttarakhand (2013) and Kashmir (2014) floods, the Muzzafarnagar riots (2013, Uttar Pradesh) and also the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal (2015).
Having put in his heart into the project, Zhazo says that it is “very fulfilling” to have his work acknowledged by distinguished experts and pioneers. “I’m satisfied that it paid off,” he says.