Dec 16 - 22, 2002

VETERAN EBRAHIM VIYANI, are a true professional and certainly a role model for his followers in the field of photojournalism. Viyani who gave his best to the profession of photojournalism served in country' leading newspaper Dawn for more than 25 years. He voluntarily retired from Dawn as chief photographer. In recognition of his outstanding performance, he received 1st APNS Award for the best press photographer category in 1981-82. Viyani was also honoured with the "life time achievement award" by "Foto Line" country's first Urdu Magazine on photography. Viyani also carries the distinction as the first press photographer who received advance colour photography training in Belgium by Agfa Gevert. He earned various firsts in his professional life and become the first photographer enrolled as the life member of the Karachi Press Club. He is also popular among the scouts. During his professional career he arrested a number of historical moments in his camera, in fact he recorded visual history of Pakistan spread over a quarter century. Viyani having his specialties in the sports journalism covered Asian Games in New Delhi.

PAGE: You have been in the profession of photography for over 25 years. Given the chance of another life, would you like to repeat your career as a photographer?

VIYANI: Oh certainly. It's a wonderful job and gives you a sense of achievement if you are sincere to the profession and the society. In fact besides thrill and excitement you have to experience due to new happenings every day, it also provides you an opportunity to discharge you social responsibilities more effectively as compared to other professions.

PAGE: Would you like to share some of your experiences of your professional life, which gave you feelings of some sort of achievements.

VIYANI: Having access to the effective quarters of the society both in government and private sector, you can resolve problems faced by the people in different walks of life. For instance, once a poor and infirm student having to legs to walk was appearing in his matriculation examination. He appealed the authorities in the education department to make transport arrangement so that he could appear in the exam hall. When his appeals went unheard he appealed to the governor but unfortunately no body paid heed to his request. Finally, he rang to me narrated his story that he cannot walk and unable to appear in the exam hall and asked me to help. On his request I visited his place, he was living in a kutcha house without having even necessities of life. After seeing his living conditions, I rang up to Edhi Trust and ask them to arrange for an ambulance to pick and drop the student from his house during exam days. Edhi responded in a positive and arranged the vehicle on the required time and dates. On the first day when the ambulance came to pick the boy I was present there and took the pictures and publish the touchy scene in Dawn accompanied by a write-up. This gave me a real sense of achievement. Such events are spread every where in the society. It is only the question of your willingness to serve the mankind.

PAGE: How would you describe the present state of affairs regarding photography especially in the newspapers. There was time when unethical pictures and photographs of dead bodies were not allowed to appear in the newspapers. But now there is a free for all attitudes. What are your comments?

VIYANI: As a matter of fact, being employ a photographer has to toe the line given by the editors or the high ups. Since this is an era of commercialism and cut throat competition every thing is published which can attract the attention of the target sectors and the readers. Since the commercial interest has to be kept in mind, a photographer cannot focus his entire attention of news pictures. And that a major reason for a low quality of newsy pictures. However, with the growth of electronic media and arrival of international news agencies, the profession of photojournalism has also registered marked improvement especially on the technical side.

PAGE: Most of the photographers serving in the newspapers are not well qualified. Don't you think that lack of education also affects their performance?

VIYANI: You are right that lack of education among the photographers in general is a handicap and hampers the way of quality and approach of the performance. In most of the cases, a photographer has to request even for writing of the captions. Education no doubt helps improvement in every way of life, it is not the question of photography alone.

PAGE: Would you like to give a message to the new comers in the field of photojournalism?

VIYANI: the only thing I would suggest that comes with a commitment to serve the society, because it's a demanding profession. One has to quit family life, but as a matter of fact the entire society becomes his family if one has the commitment with the well being of the humanity and has the courage to express against the injustice prevails in the society.