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My life before lockdown seems a world away

He is used to photographing at global trade events, but RPS member Navin Kukadia is adapting his practice under the pandemic

‘Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at the opening ceremony of the bilateral trade agreement between India, Germany and rest of Europe, Hannover Fair 2015’ by Navin Kukadia 

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a revolutionary impact on photography, with image-makers across the globe losing income and having to adapt quickly to ever-changing guidelines.

UK-based trade photojournalist Navin Kukadia was used to photographing international figures such as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French president Emmanuel Macron at global conferences and events. Here Kukadia reflects on his photographic journey, and explains how he has adapted professionally during lockdown.

“My interest in photography started when I joined secondary school, because my father used to enjoy taking pictures and I would use his camera. When I went to study at the University of Coventry I stopped, but then when I became a factory inspector, which took me all over the world, I started to really engage with photography. I’ve taken it seriously since April 2013, which is when I joined the RPS.

“I work as a freelancer and the journalism I do is more trade-related in terms of products. That’s because when I carried out the factory inspections, I’d go to manufacturers like Sony and it’d be natural for me to report on that in my writing. What we sometimes did was take pictures of the products and the people, and we’d publish that in the report, so I naturally moved into doing trade journalism.”

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‘Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on cyber security at Cybertech 2019, Israel’ by Navin Kukadia

Impact of the pandemic

“If you look at all your consumer products, like microwave ovens or Dysons, I’ve probably been to every single one of those manufacturers. I do still travel a bit, but it’s mostly in the UK. For my journalism I try to go to the trade shows, so things like travel shows in London, electronic shows in LA.

“The pandemic has definitely had an impact on the trade side of my work. There have been trade shows happening online, but I’m not a big fan of online shows – it’s not the same as going physically out there.

“As a factory inspector I still get work coming through, so that’s been ticking over. I also get work auditing bioscience companies, but I’m working from home so it’s more documentation and examining. You have to be disciplined to work from home.”

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CREDIT: Navin Kukadia

‘French president Emmanuel Macron tours the airshow on the opening day of Paris Air Show 2017’ by Navin Kukadia

A moment to reflect

“With my photography, I’m having to look at what I can do locally and indoors. From what I’ve heard from other photographers, their work outside is compromised a lot at the moment. There was a photographer on the news who was questioning the government and asking what they were going to do because there’s hundreds and thousands of photographers who have no work at all.

“I think things will get better – we have to look at it positively. The plus side is I’ve been able to take a step back and review all my photos and see what I can do better. I’ve also been able to look at my equipment and see if I need anything else. It’s given us all a moment in which to reflect – if people haven’t been badly affected healthwise, we just need to weather the storm.”

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