Little did everyone know that a young and zealous Parsi girl would go on to become India’s first female photojournalist, and perhaps even the best one till this day.
Homai Vyarawalla, the first Indian woman photojournalist ose to fame for her work between 1938 and 1970, which included some of India’s most iconic images such as the first tri-colour being hoisted after Independence, the departure of the last Viceroy, the death of Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru releasing a pigeon.
On her death anniversary, let’s dive into her long journey from scratch to struggle till early fame across nation
Born on December 13, 1913, Vyarawalla was raised in a middle-class Parsi family in Navsari. She completed a diploma in Arts from the J J School of Arts in Mumbai.
She was introduced to photography by her husband Manekcshaw Vyarawala, a photographer at the Times of India.
Vyarawala went on to work with the British Information Services and was a familiar sight in Delhi, sari-clad, travelling from one end of the city to the other on a cycle. She believed that the key to a good photograph is timing, composition and angle.
“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 said in an interview to The Hindu.
Her contributions as a photo-journalist include immortalising the moment when the first Flag was hoisted at the Red Fort on August 15, 1947, the departure of the last Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten from the country, and the funerals of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri. Vyarawala also photographed Queen Elizabeth’s and former United States president, Dwight Eisenhower’s visits to India.
In 2011, she was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award. In 2011, she was also given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the I&B Ministry in 2010. She passed away in 2012 at the age of 98.