Min Ratna Bajracharya is affable and approachable, quite unexpectedly so for a giant in his field. A foremost photojournalist, Min Dai as he is affectionately called, had his 4th Solo exhibition in Nepal Tourism Board for #PhotoNepal between March 3 – March 13.
#PhotoNepal is a tourism promotion campaign by NTB where every first weekend of the English calendar month, travel photographers exhibit their photos to the general public.
An excerpt of the interview with Min Dai below:
Q. Tell us a little bit about your childhood and how you began your foray into photography.
My dad passed away when I was 4. My mum encouraged me to work for pocket money, so I began pretty early, when I must have been 6 or 7 years old. Would you believe it that I was a fashion designer? I worked for Human Fit Tailors. Then, my mum passed away too and I had no one but Lea, who was an Australian Navy Captain I befriended on one of his frequent visits to Nepal. He said to me, ‘I can’t do much for you but if you like, I will show you around Australia’. So I went and had a great time. It was during that trip, I took a picture of Sydney Opera House, which was appreciated by everyone. I was told then that I had an eye for taking a good shot and that was it.
Q. What was your big break? What are the significant moments of your career?
Well after my long holiday in Australia, things took a very serendipitous turn. Happenings nai Happenings … In July 17, 1987 my first photo was published in The Commoner, an English Daily newspaper of the stampede in Dashrath Rangashala. In those days, I was a freelancer and I had a lot of fun with it. Ghumdai romance gardai…I would go where my work took me. Then I got a paid position with Bimarcha and it was perfect for me as they encouraged me to travel. I just needed to be back in the office by Wednesday evenings as the newspaper went out on Fridays.
However, I must say, my greatest wish was to shadow Ganesh Man Singh for 10 years and publish a collection of his photographs charting his career and achievements. I was lucky enough to be introduced to him during the 1990’s People’s Movement for multiparty democracy. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1997 before I could complete my project. Other than that though I have held exhibitions in Germany and France, and lectured in Australia.
Q. What makes photography so special and enjoyable to you?
Nothing is easy, it must be said. Everything requires hard work and dedication. However I want people to know about Nepal, I want them to think highly of my country. When I first went to Australia, an acquaintance did not know where Nepal was and asked if it was a part of India. That infuriated me. When I came back, instead of sending postcards to my friends abroad, I would send them photos I clicked of temples, squares, festivals etc. Tourism promotion thus has become an integral part of my work. I also have to say, that I feel a sense of responsibility towards my society, as a photojournalist. If I worry about tough working conditions or my personal safety, how could I then claim to be who I am.
Q. Finally, if you had to pick a favorite, which one of your photos would you choose?
I have to say that I love Swayambhunath. I have gone over several times to capture the eyes on the stupa from different angles. My favorite photo though has to be the aerial shot of Everest.