A photographer with a career spanning multiple genres, Swapan Parekh is known for his documentary approach to advertising and his experiments with the photo essay form. His work prioritises a sense of continuity and connectedness between photographs, rather than the “decisive moment” or sense of narrative closure offered by a single image.
Parekh took up photography at the age of sixteen in 1982, soon after the death of his father, celebrated photojournalist Kishor Parekh. He studied photojournalism at the International Centre of Photography (ICP), New York, USA, but pivoted to advertising and fashion for a large part of his career in the 1990s and early 2000s, infusing elements of documentary photography into his work. He continued to engage with photojournalism on the side during this period, a notable example of which is his 1993 photograph of a woman who lost her family during an earthquake in Latur that year. He was awarded first prize for this image in the World Photo Press Contest the following year. He would later become a member of the jury for the same photo contest in 2004, 2005, and 2008.
In 2008, Parekh had his first major solo exhibition, Between Me and I, in which photographs taken at different times and places echoed each other, either in terms of their subject matter or composition. These series of interconnected images have come to form his signature style. The show was first installed at the Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam, then travelled to PHOTOINK, New Delhi, and finally to Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai. The exhibition catalogue was jointly published as a book by PHOTOINK and Chatterjee & Lal in 2008.
Other notable exhibitions of Parekh’s work include Bombay / Mumbai 1992–2001 at the? Tate Modern, London in 2001, and Middle Age Spread: Imaging India 1947–2004 shown at the National Museum, New Delhi in 2004. His photographs have been featured by several publications, notably Time, Life, American Photo, Der Spiegel and El Pais. He received the the Young Photographers Award at Photosynkna, Greece in 1996, the Advertising Photographer of the Year award from the Commercial Artists’ Guild in 2000, and has thrice won the annual Asia Pacific Ad Award.
In 2015, Parekh held an exhibition of his late father’s photographs — most of which originally appeared in Kishor Parekh’s book Bangladesh: A Brutal Birth — at the Delhi Photo Festival.
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