Born on March 30, 1957, Prashant Panjiar is a self-taught photographer. A post-graduate in Political Science from Pune University, India, he worked on photographic projects focusing on peasant movements and other social issues through his college and university days. His first self-financed project that received acclaim was his work for a book on banditry in the Chambal region of Central India.
In 1984, he joined mainstream journalism with the Patriot newspaper where he photographed many important events including the riots after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, terrorism in Punjab and the elections.
In 1986 he moved on to join India Today magazine. As senior photographer with India Today, many important international stories were entrusted to him. Apart from spending nearly 3 months in Iraq, Kuwait, Israel and Saudi Arabia covering the Gulf War in 1991, he also covered the situation in Afghanistan after the Russians pulled-out. He traveled to Pakistan a number of times working on difficult stories, invariably at the height of Indo-Pak tension. Within the country too, he covered the major events and trends. These included the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, Punjab, Kashmir, the elections of 1989 and 1991, the Bihar earthquake, and many socially relevant stories.
In 1995 he joined the Outlook Group of Publications as Associate Editor, in charge of photography, and was part of the core team that launched Outlook magazine. He went on to become Deputy Editor of the magazine responsible for the look and visual content of the magazine, which involved generating of ideas, conceptualizing, visualizing and having the photography executed. He was also one of the magazine’s main photographers. He also worked as consulting picture editor for the group’s other magazines.
In October 2001 Panjiar left the Outlook Group to devote himself to full-time independent photography. Based in New Delhi he specializes in editorial and documentary photography. His work is published in leading magazines both in India and abroad. Since 2003 he has also been working on issues such of health, education and livelihood for international foundations such as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American India Foundation. Panjiar also continues to work as a consulting editor. Through October 2001 to March 2002 he coordinated the launch of the Indian Express Group’s new Sunday Express. As Picture Editor he has edited an anthology of the most memorable photographs of India for DK / Penguin India entitled ‘India – The Definitive Image’.
As one of India’s senior photojournalists and picture editors, Panjiar is actively involved in guiding young photographers. He is one of the three senior photographers who select and mentor young documentary photographers for National Foundation of India’s fellowship programme. Panjiar served on the jury of the World Press Photo Awards in Amsterdam in 2002, the China International Press Photo Competition in 2005 and the Indian Express Press Photo Awards.
Books as author
The Survivours - Kampuchea 1984, Patriot Publishers, 1984.
Malkhan - The story of a Bandit King, Lancers, India, 1984.
The Ranas of Nepal, Naef Kister, Switzerland, 2002 / Timeless, 2003.
India – The Definitive Image, DK / Penguin, 2004. [Picture Editor]. Locked Homes. Empty Schools, Zubaan Books. 2007.
King, Commoner, Citizen, India Picture Photography Monograph. 2007.
Pan India, a shared habitat, Tasveer Arts, 2009.
Books as contributor
Das Endlose Rad - Photographie in Indien, an edition of contemporary Indian photography edited by Tim Besserer and Dieter Koeve, Switzerland, 1987.
India’s Bandit Queen, by Mala Sen, Harper Collins, Great Britain, 1991.
Rajiv, by Sonia Gandhi, Viking India, 1992.
India 24 Hours, Mappin, India, 1996.
India – A Celebration of Independence 1947 to 1997, Aperture, USA.
Madhya Pradesh – Images Beyond The Surface, Madhyam, 2000.
Outlook Classics, Outlook Group, 2002.
India – The Definitive Image, DK / Penguin, 2004.
Kampuchea Lives Again, at Delhi and Calcutta in 1984.
Kings & Commoners at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Bangalore & Pune in 2000.
The Wall, Mumbai, 2003.
King, Commoner, Citizen, at the Konica Minolta Gallery, Tokyo, Japan & Delhi in 2007.
Pan India, a shared habitat, at Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata & Mumbai, 2009 to 2010.
Das Endlose Rad - Photographie in Indien, in Germany & Switzerland, 1987.
Rajiv Gandhi, Delhi, 1991.
Punjab 1994, Delhi, Chandigarh and Bombay, 1994-95.
India 24 Hours, Bombay, 1996.
India – A Celebration of Independence, Philadelphia, London, Delhi, Bombay, 1997.
Ways of Resisting, Delhi, 2002.
Tirtha, New Delhi, 2007.
Act of Faith, Noorderlicht International Photo Festival, 2007.
Click! Contemporary Photography in India, Delhi & London, 2008.
The Self and the Other. Portraiture in Contemporary Indian Photography, Barcelona & Vitoria, Spain, 2009.
Droit dans les yeux, Polka Gallerie, Paris, France, 2009.
Where Three Dreams Cross, Whitechapel Gallery, London & Winterthur Foto Museum, Switzerland 2010.