Robert Capa, known as one of the greatest war photographer and photojournalist in the history once quoted, “If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.” True to these words, this young talented photojournalist Kekhriezhazo Miachieo from Nagaland has embarked on a journey different from many others. What sets him apart is his simple photographs that speak a thousand words as he unwinds a different emotion each time he clicks his shutter.
R&L had a conversation with Zhazo Miachieo, a photojournalist, from Kohima, Nagaland about his journey, his recent series of work – “Floods in Nagaland” and more. Read on!
It’s such a pleasure to have you with us Zhazo! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Kekhrie Zhazo Miachieo and I’m from Kohima, Nagaland. I started off with a two-month long internship at Hindustan Times in New Delhi and that eventually led to a full-time job as a staff photojournalist for 1.5 years. Later, I joined India Today Magazine as a photojournalist in 2013 and continued till 2017. I now work as a freelance photojournalist based in Kohima.
What initially sparked your interest in photography?
Art has always been associated with me since childhood and I was always very passionate about it. In the Summer of 2006, my dad bought me a camera and I haven’t stopped clicking since then. Sebastião Salgado, James Nachtwey, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus and Raghu Rai are some of the photographers I admire and look up to.
How have your roots influenced your work?
“Growing up in a small town, life was simple and I guess that led me to look for simple compositions. There is always a hint of interesting emotion hidden in the mundane. I’m also always looking out at the four corners of the frame to see if there is any way I can beautify my main subject with the use of lighting and other elements.”
An old lady cooking inside a Naga Kitchen | Photo by Zhazo Miachieo
What gets your particularly excited about pursuing photography as a full-time job?
I’ve been working as a full-time professional photojournalist since 2011. Social issues always get me interested and it drives me towards excelling at my work.
Women at Mayong Village protesting against the Illegal Bangladeshi settlers on the banks of Bharmaputra river in Mayong Village in Assam, on Friday, September 23, 2016 | Photo by Zhazo Miachieo
Delhi Municipal field workers fumigation carried out at colonies to prevent mosquitos from breeding in New Delhi, India, October 03, 2013. A photograph by Zhazo Miachieo.
You have a beautiful way of sharing stories through your photographs. How do you go about composing your frames?
The things that I photograph are all extensions of myself. I’m usually very selective in shooting but, at the same time, I’m always looking out for good pictures. What I see and photograph is a way of finding myself, the things that I’m experiencing or have experienced in life and what I’m expecting from the unknown.
“Photography is deeply rooted in me and is a very personal profession – that is one of the reasons why I left my comfortable job at one of the leading national magazines to come back home. I couldn’t shoot stories that I didn’t connect to or believe in anymore.”
“Sunshine finally. It has been more than a week without it.” Photo of a neighborhood in Nagaland by Zhazo Miachieo
Your recent series of photographs is titled “Floods in Nagaland.” What was your experience traveling across the state and how did it change your perspective on life?
“I was commissioned to cover the floods by the DIPR Nagaland (Department of Information and Public Relations). It is one of my first major commissioned assignments in Nagaland and it was an eye-opening experience. I never knew that only a 100 kilometers away from Kohima people are still living in dire conditions. You cannot ignore the growing expanse of classes and truly, it was sad to witness it. It’s something we have been so ignorant about.”
“I built this house 14 years ago. 8 of us used to live here.” | Photo by Zhazo Miachieo from his series, “Floods in Nagaland”
“We built this house 5 years back. There is no history of any landslide in this area. It’s pulling the house apart from beneath. No one is safe here.” | Photo by Zhazo Miachieo from his series “Floods in Nagaland”
“We built this house 5 years ago. There is no history of any landslide in this area. It’s pulling the house apart from beneath. No one is safe here.” | Photo by Zhazo Miachieo from “Floods in Nagaland”
“The house has been sinking by more than 5 feet. It’s crumbling slowly. We don’t have plans to move out.” | Photo by Zhazo Miachieo from his series “Floods in Nagaland”
What’s your creative philosophy and where do you take inspiration from?
I work hard but I try to be smart about it. As for inspiration, it usually comes when I’m least expecting it. I am most inspired when I hear or find out about new stories happening around.
Tell us about places you traveled covering stories and what was your most memorable photoshoot/photo.
The aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, Muzzafarnagar riots, Kashmir floods and the Uttarakhand floods are some of the places I’ve traveled to covering stories through my photographs.
“I also won the TOTO Tasveer Young Photography Award in 2017 for my photo series called “Cycle of Street Life” where I covered street children in Delhi battling substance abuse.For me, covering the Uttarakhand floods was probably the most memorable and unforgettable experience. I almost lost my life twice while covering that story!”
Parts of Zhazo’s photo series called “Cycle of Street Life” where we covered street children in Delhi battling substance abuse, that won him the TOTO Tasveer Young Photography Award in 2017.
A boy inhaling an adhesive substance in the streets of Delhi from Zhazo’s award-winning photo series from 2017, “Circle Of Street Life”
Zhazo Miachieo in action on a shoot.
Bill and Melinda Gates clicked by Zhazo in New Delhi, India, on 18 September, 2014.
Your take on the photography scene here in Nagaland.
“I think Naga photographers need to look beyond weddings and events. There are so many other opportunities beyond that – like photojournalism, social documentaries, wildlife, sports, interiors and products etc. We are still way behind in fashion as well. We represent each other and only through the qualities of our photographs can we gain respect from our communities.”
Second-hand clothes dealer waiting for customers at the open market in Kohima, Nagaland | Photo by Zhazo Miachieo
What do you hope people take away from your photographs?
I want to evoke in the viewers a sense of curiosity and embark them onto a journey that they can create or relate to these images.
A widow daubed in colors takes part in Holi celebration | Photo by Zhazo Miachieo.
Follow Zhazo on Instagram on his beautiful journey of storytelling and capitulating them in photographs.
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