Giles Khan

I have a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Film from the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University and a Master's degree in Indian History from Bombay University. I have been a faculty member at the New York Film Academy and The Maine Photographic Workshops. I am presently doing research for the Magnum Photo Agency and involved in a photo documentary about the gospel churches in Harlem. I am also actively involved in independent feature film production in New York and Los Angeles in the capacity as cinematographer, sound engineer and producer. I am presently working on a documentary on the preservation ofhistirical buildings for the state of New York.

I have been photographing India for the past 15 years. My journey of discovery has taken me trekking the high reaches of the Himalayas to SCUBA diving in the waters off the Lakshwadeep islands. I have cycled across the southern part of the subcontinent, from Madhurai to Kanya Kumari and walked the Punjab from the Bhakra Nangal dam to Chandigarh, at the height of the unrest in that region. I have spent considerable time travelling with the holy men of India and with nomads of the high desert in Ladakh. One of the more bizarre locations that I have photographed is the ship-breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat. Hundreds of ocean going ships are driven onto the beaches and crews descend upon it, stripping these mighty vessels down to the tiniest of bolts that are to be sold as scrap metal. Some of these pictures can be viewed on my web
site at:

My specialized interest in the field of photography pertains to issues that are prevalent in India today. My next project will explore the issue of child labor. I seek to investigate the causes that rob these children of their youth, the conditions they face at work, the organizations working to improve the conditions of these children and their rehabilitation Is there hope or no hope for these children? Another project that is close to my heart is the role that women are playing in changing the face of modem India, their contribution to a society that is dominated by males and the struggles they face to make these contributions. I also seek to record a year in the life of the nomads of the Himalayas, whose life style has changed very little in the past centuries. Their festivals, wedding ceremonies, birth and death rituals are of immense interest to me A childhood passion has been the Indian commercial film industry based in Bombay. I wish to document the people who work away from the spotlight - the dancing girls, the dance masters, the light boys, the spot boys, the stunt artists, the extras, and the cameramen. It is these people who are the true heroes of the celluloid screen.

My ultimate professional goal would be to be representated by the Magnum photo agency, for I admire the photographers they represent as well as the agencies tradition of" concerned photography". I seek to further my career as a professional photojoumalist by working with magazines and newspapers that are dedicated to makeing a difference. I seek to bring about the awareness of others through this medium, yet it has been instrumental in making me aware of my responsibility as an artist and as a human being. I am trying to make a difference through my work, yet the only difference I can truly make is to change the way I see and act towards the world by making people think about the world we live in and bring about awareness and thus change to the world. I strongly believe in contributing my skills and talent to relief groups.
The singular most influential person in my development as a photographer has been Sabastiao Salgado. My first project at NYU film school, was to put together still images that would tell a story. I used images from the famine that Salgado had taken in Sahal and Sudan. I utilized the grammar of my newfound language. fade from black, dissolves, zoom ins.... and accompanied these images to the tune of "Some where over the rainbow". What emerged was not simply the horror of a people staring death in the face, but the souls of these people emerged, their honor, their dignity, and their grace. Salgado's photographs gave a voice that spoke for those who had no voice.
People whose photographic work I have greatly admired are W. Eugene Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Wee Gee, Mary Ellen Mark and Raghu Rai. My expression has been stylized by my study of the masters of the Italian neo-realist cinema- Fellini, De Sica, Rosillini and directors from the 40's and 50's in India, such as Raj
Kapoor, Mehaboob Khan, Guru Dutt and Satyajit Ray. Their work in black and white had a profound effect on my impressionable mind. Director's of Photography such as Freddie Young, Conrad Hall, Starrier and John Toll have shaped the way I light. It wasmy mentor at the Maine Photographic Workshop, Jerry Hershfeld, who taught me how to see and not simply look..

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