26 Feb - 3 Mar 2016 #797

Capturing the city

Getting to know one of Nepal's pioneer photojournalists Min Ratna Bajracharya.
Smriti Basnet


Walking through the streets of Asan with Min Ratna Bajracharya gives one an idea of how well this legendary photographer (pic) knows the streetscape of Kathmandu. He seems to know everyone and everyone seems to know him. It is this intimate knowledge of his neighbourhood and city that gives Bajracharya his unique access to photo opportunities.

“There’s a story behind everything, the success of a photographer lies in recognising these stories and capturing the essence of it in a single shot,” he says.

As one of Nepal’s pioneer photojournalists, Bajracharya has been on the front lines of various political movements and economic developments in the country. His image of student activist Durga Thapa smeared in vermillion is regarded as the most iconic image of the 1990 People’s Uprising.

After his father's sudden death, Bajracharya started working at a printing press to earn money for his family. It was there that he fell in love with photography stills.

Growing up, he would rent a camera from his school and spend most of his earnings on his newfound interest. “If I had Rs 400 with me, I would spend Rs 200 on film reels,” recalls Bajracharya, whose first camera was an automatic single lens Minolta gifted to him by an Australian friend.

What started out as a hobby capturing scenic landscapes and portraits quickly evolved into a career covering dramatic events. “During the stampede of 1988 in Dasrath Stadium, I rushed to the site. They would not allow me inside because I was not from a newspaper,” he shares. “But that did not stop me from taking pictures.”

Bajracharya credits his continued success to his strong work ethic and his eye for opportunities. “I made it as a photo journalist because I was proactive,” says the man who has photographed dignitaries and personalities like Ganesh Man Singh, Chandra Shekhar Singh, and Manisha Koirala.

Always wanting to improve his craft, Bajracharya has had to adapt to changing technologies over the years. “Processing pictures then took a longer time which elongated the process of transforming information visually. Now, you click a picture and send it over the internet,” says Bajracharya.

Throughout all his accomplishments, Bajracharya never forgets the basics that got him to where he is now. “More than the lens it is the sense of photography that matters.”

Min Ratna Bajracharya’s photo exhibition on tourism in Nepal titled #Nepalphoto, in association with School of Creative Communication and Nepal Tourism Board, will be held on the NTB premises from 4-6 March, 2016.   

Read also:

Durga’s journey through time