She calls herself an urban chronicler. Photographer Anusha Yadav, who graduated with a degree in graphic design from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad 13 years ago, became a full-time photographer in 2005. She’s been photographing cityscapes since then, including the people who inhabit them. Her interest in the social landscapes of cities goes beyond her lens. She also runs a blog, the indianmemoryproject. wordpress.com, an archiving site for Indian family photographs, which indicates a scholarly interest in documentation.
Recognizing her work and her interests, the organizers of the prestigious SommerSzene festival in Salzburg, Austria, invited her to be part of a photo-documentation project that turns its lens on the inhabitants of Salzburg. Its architectural heritage has been documented often but the organizers felt only its citizens would represent a true portrait of the city.
Salzburg has a population of 140,000, and geographically it is roughly the size of the Mumbai suburb of Bandra. But even at a conservative estimate, it is home to people of around 150 nationalities. Yadav and New-York based Austrian photographer Anja Hitzenberger—the SommerSzene organizers wanted two points of view—asked diverse Salzburgians to face the camera for an exhibition that opened on 8 July in Salzburg.
Earlier this summer, the two of them shot Salzburgians of 124 different nationalities in a span of 25 days. Among others, Yadav shot people of Iranian, Czech, Tanzanian, Finnish and Spanish descent. She says she particularly enjoyed shooting a Catalan dancer and an Irish bartender.
The images by the two photographers are strikingly different. Hitzenberger’s photographs are more art-oriented, with the people largely in long shots, and symmetry and colour taking dominance. Yadav worked mostly in mid shots, with the personality or history of the person taking centre stage. One of her portraits of a Tanzanian woman, for instance, has behind her a pop art image with a figure sporting an afro. Most interesting of all, Yadav says, was shooting a Singaporean girl of Indian descent. “She was of half-Kerala and half-Goan origin and managed Salzburg’s largest sex store,” she recalls, adding, “This is why I like portraiture—the surprises it can throw up!”
The photos are being exhibited on the banks of the river Salzach, which flows through Salzburg. A video installation and a book accompany the exhibit, which is titled Portraits einer Stadt (Portraits of a City). The pictures are all colour, and almost life-size.
Yadav has undertaken a similar project in her native city of Mumbai and is now shooting city residents of various nationalities residing here. She hopes to showcase the results in an exhibition by the end of the year.
Select photographs from the exhibition are on view at