Dharamshala — Tibet Post reporter Tenzin Zompa met with In Frame editor, Tenzin Chodon, for an exclusive interview about the new photography magazine, which is the first of it's kind in the Tibetan community.
TPI: Please give us a brief about yourself.
1) I am Tenzin Chodon. I did my school from Tibetan Homes School, Mussoorie and then did my graduation in B.Sc. Nursing from Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi. My first experience in the editorial work was during my senior year in school. Though it was not a serious job, but I learnt a lot from there as a student. And I love to read books when I am free, be it fiction, non-fiction, magazines, etc or whatever that interests me.
TPI: What is the hardest part of working in a photography magazine?
2) Since this is the first Tibetan photography magazine, we don’t have any idea from where to start and where to end. The magazine itself was a big challenge for our team! We couldn’t find any reference in our community, as there were very few works related to photography. And for me, as an editor, it was very difficult to understand the language of photography and process through it. Therefore, I started reading books and magazines related to photography and analyze through it. So, from my experience, I feel it will be better if an editor of a photography magazine has a little bit knowledge of visual anthropology, it will be much more easier work.
TPI: Is this your first big project, being the editor of the first Tibetan photography magazine or have you worked elsewhere before?
3) I feel this is a project on a small scale but with big aims & hopes. As we know, photography is originated from the west way before, but it is very new to our society as we can see the visual documentation of our history is very rare, especially by Tibetans. But gradually in the recent years, we can see many photographers and people who are enthusiasts about photography. So, to promote the skills and knowledge of photography in our community and to give a platform to our photographers to showcase their skills and knowledge, the idea of In Frame came about.
TPI: Where do you see In Frame in the future?
4) For now, In Frame Magazine is limited to a very small audience and even though we don’t have a proper office to work at but we managed to produce our first magazine. So in the near future, we will work hard to make this magazine to be more standard as other photography magazines, and our ultimate goal is to reach a wider audience, beyond just our community.
TPI: Do you see In Frame as a platform for amateur photographers?
5) Yes, of course. If you are familiar with our project, you can see we organized the first ever photo contest in our community, which is basically for amateur photographers; to encourage them to showcase their talents and believe in what they can do. We are planning to do the same every year and feature them in our magazine. Last year, we got more than 100 entries and we hope we shall get more this year.
TPI: Do you think In Frame is a step towards modernization in our community? If yes, in what ways?
6) I think photography itself is a step towards modernization and hence our project is the same. As you can see the content of the magazine we have covered photography in Wildlife, Fashion, Sports, Portrait, etc which will help our fellow Tibetans to explore more in this field as these are not touched as much.
Were there major difficulties that In Frame faced during the making of it?
7) The major difficulties faced during the making of the magazine was finding content. We worked hard to present you this content, as this is the first photography magazine and we had to find content that would attract people. Otherwise, people will ignore it if the content is not that strong. We worked hard, but we are not saying that now the content of the magazine is strong, I am sure there must be lots of mistakes that have to be avoided in the future and we have received feedback from some senior people. We will try our best to improve it and not repeat it again.
TPI: Going through the magazine, from what I observed, a proper photo description/caption including the location, photographer, date etc. are missing. These are all important parts of a picture. Why is that so?
8) If you look carefully in the magazine, the name of the photographer is mentioned but there is not caption. The first idea of putting pictures without captions came into being as we observe that if we put a caption under the photograph, people will automatically read the caption and won't take much time to read the picture itself. We want to keep that way so our reader can grew a habit of reading within the picture. But lately, we are receiving a lot of feedback and we feel, it is our mistake not to give a caption. We will try our best to make sure that the caption in the next issue will not be missed.
TPI: How did you jumped from being a nurse to an editor's desk? Is there inspiration behind that?
9) You see, I am not a full time editor; I did the editorial work by taking out time when I am free at home. Though I have stopped working as a nurse, I feel nursing has taught me a lot! It has taught me how to face challenges, how to be independent, how to feel you are fortunate, how to practice others before self. I got to learn all these good qualities from being a nurse and I am grateful for that.