Parmeet Sahni, a hobbyist turned professional photographer, hosted her first photo exhibition based on her short travel and holiday in Nepal on Sunday, September 2 at the Fickling Community Centre in Three Kings, Auckland.

Ms Sahni earlier this year took a one-week solo trip to Nepal, the home of Mount Everest, on the occasion of her birthday and took hundreds of pictures going to different parts of the country and city, to remote villages and market areas.

What captured her interest in the country was not just Mt Everest and the breathtaking landscapes but the faces of different communities living in the various parts of Kathmandu. Mesmerised by the communities who were living in such content and tranquillity, Ms Sahni focused her lens on the emotions conveyed by each face especially in the market area, religious centres and remote villages.

Back in Auckland looking at her holiday pictures Ms Sahni’s friends encouraged her to share her fine work with the community which eventually led to planning her first exhibition. Ms Sahni’s first exhibition under her photography banner Soulful Memories Photography was titled ‘The gathering of life: Capturing the culture and streets of Nepal’.

The exhibition on Sunday displayed more than 50 portraits on print and hundreds of other pictures projected onto the walls of the event hall. In conversation with The Indian Weekender, Ms Sahni explains her love for photography, the soul of her first photo exhibition and what is the next step for her passion.

IWK: What did you find so special about Nepal and how have you captured it in your pictures?

Ms Sahni: Nepal is such a mystical place with picturesque landscapes, beautiful valleys and mountains. The location is known for many things, travellers come from across the globe to climb Mt Everest and enjoy the peaceful valley, but what captured my attention was the people. Different communities live there in such harmony, each face on the street or at a religious place or in the town had so much of glow and depth that I wanted to capture it with my camera forever. 

IWK: What are the critical elements in your pictures- what emotions or feelings do they convey?

Ms Sahni: I tried my best to capture the culture, the colour and emotions of the place and the people in my pictures. Every face captured in my camera had a story to say- so close to nature and such depths in emotions that I could not stop myself.

I was near a mosque on the day of Eid and people had just come out of their Eid prayers and were embracing each other with joy. I was on the first floor and on the ground floor I saw two people embrace and wish each other clad in a traditional kurta, and beautifully embroidered skull caps on their head. I hung by the railing on one foot and took that picture.

My photos also show men prostrating in their prayers in the mosque in congregation, a woman deep into her prayers standing in front of a temple with her hands folded, sages clad in their saffron cloth with a tika on their forehead, smiling faces and salt and pepper locks, an old woman carrying a mobile handstick with thousands of junk jewelleries to sell in the market. Each of these pictures had a thousand emotions, smiles that never to be forgotten and devotion towards nature; it was indeed majestic.

IWK: What kind of assistance and support did you get for your exhibition?

Ms Sahni: My family was there every step throughout; indeed sponsors and friends and I collaborated with the New Zealand Nepal Association in Auckland who helped me immensely in this project. I would like to thanks president of New Zealand Nepal Association Shri Sridhar Basnyat for coming forward with his team and supporting the initiative. Through this exhibition, we did small fundraising by selling the photos, the funds of which will be used to buy stationeries for children and build libraries for students in the most remote areas of Nepal. Mt Roskill MP Michael Wood, Jeet Suchdev from Bhartiya Samaj more than 200 people came to witness the exhibition.

IWK: What message do you convey through your pictures and exhibition?

Ms Sahni: I have tried to capture the real essence of the people in Nepal and my pictures convey that every race, culture and religion is extremely beautiful and unique and art speaks the same language as everyone else.

IWK: What is next on the plate for your photography?

Ms Sahni: I aim to travel to different countries and experience as many cultures and communities as possible and exhibit the same in my pictures.