The recent award of the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography to a photojournalist of Pakistani origin provides us a moment of reflection on the legacy of great Pakistani photojournalists. One name that embodies this rich legacy more than any other is F.E. Choudhry.
He was born on March 15th, 1909 to a Christian Rajput family in Sahrnpur, India. He was named Faustin Elmer by his parents. His family moved to Jhelum (now Pakistan) when Fazal Elahi was a young boy and he had his early education at Mission High School, Dalwal, Jhelum, and later graduated from F.C. College, Lahore.
Photography was his first love, which he picked up as a hobby first in those days when photography was still a cumbersome affair and, in his later years, started working as a freelance photographer while serving as a science teacher at St Anthony High School Lahore in 1934.
His first news photography was published in the Civil and Military Gazette, Lahore in 1935 and then went to freelance for, Illustrated Weekly of India, Bombay and other papers. He joined The Pakistan Times as a staff reporter in 1949 and remained associated with it until his retirement in 1973. He has worked with all the leading editors, such as Faiz A Faiz, Mazhar Ali Khan, I.A. Suleri and K. M. Asaf.
F.E. Choudhry, affectionately known as Chacha in the journalist community, is credited to have introduced innovative features to photojournalism, such as cricket action photography, pictorial and artistic studies of birds and animals in photojournalism, photographs of natural and cultural scenes, along with host of others which have become standards items of photojournalism today. For his long-standing services, he was awarded Tamgh-i-Khidmat in 1970, Pride of Performance in 1987 and the Tehrik-i-Pakistan Gold Medal in 1992.
He was Pakistan’s first serious, full-time press photographer who worked freelance until he was snapped up by Mian Iftikharuddin soon after the Pakistan Times began publishing in 1947. He stayed with the newspaper almost until its closure, through good times and bad, working in his own inimitable style and snapping pictures, many of which have come to form the pictorial history of Pakistan. Had Chacha done nothing but recorded the upheavals of the Partition and the arrival of thousands of refugees from across the newly-drawn dividing line between India and Pakistan, he would have assured himself a place in the history of pictorial journalism.
He donated the fabulous collection of matchbox labels that he and his wife had been collecting for years to the National College of Arts Archives.
F.E. Chaudhry died on his 104th birthday in 2013 in Lahore.
Azhar Hussain Jafri
The Zia regime had imprisoned, flogged and rendered journalists jobless who were ideologically against the military rule imposed after overthrowing the PPP government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Mr. Jafri stood undeterred, giving voice to the struggle with his lens.
It was he who took the picture of the late Begum Nusrat Bhutto when a police officer hit her head with a baton during a protest she led at the Qadhafi Stadium soon after the removal of her husband’s government. The picture capturing her blood-smeared face was published on the front page of many world newspapers.
He worked for Dawn Newspaper as staff photographer till his retirement. After that, he was working for White Star, which wires pictures to Dawn.
His work made him a source of pictures from Lahore, the then political hub of Pakistan, for various foreign news agencies. He would never fail them and Dawn.
The recipient of the President’s Pride of Performance Award which was conferred on him two years ago, the celebrated lensman had shot to prominence for his daring pictures of the democratic struggle against the harshest Martial Law of Gen Zia ul Haq imposed in 1977 under challenging conditions.
He passed away in Lahore at the age of 63 years.
Icons Of Photo Journalism
UNO Workshop on Human Rights Organized by PFUJ
اقوام متحدہ ، پی ایف یوجے اور پی یو جے کے زیر اہتمام پی سی ہوٹل میں جرنلسٹس سیکورٹی ان پاکستان کے موضوع پر دو روزہ تربیتی ورکشاپ میں صدر APL وسیم نیاز، جنرل سیکرٹری عمران شیخ اور فنانس سیکرٹری پرویز الطاف کا اقوام متحدہ کے نمائندہ مسٹر لینو کے ہمراہ گروپ فوٹو۔