The Man Who Tapped The Internet To Bring Photos From Rural Karnataka To The Mainstream [DOER]

Saggere Ramaswamy
Saggere Ramaswamy, Founder of KPN

Until a decade ago in Karnataka photographs on print media were almost always from urban regions. With low internet and email penetration in rural India, journalists and photographers were unable to send in the photographs in time for publishing. It didn’t help that Bangalore being the Information Technology hub, got all the attention.

But there were stories to be told in Karnataka’s villages. In 2003 photojournalist Saggere Ramaswamy wanted to help change this practise and give rural photojournalists a fair chance.

For this, he decided to build a media platform for photojournalists, that would bridge the gap for them. Karnataka’s first web based photo agency was born.

By 2003, digitization and the spread of the Internet  also offered new dimensions  to communications like blogs and websites. Saggere used all this to his advantage and started  Karnataka Photo News (KPN).

Ramaswamy’s entrepreneurial venture, the KPN network, currently has about 40 photojournalists across the state and offers over 100 news photos everyday over the Internet. Over 35 publications including print, web, TV channels subscribe to the service.

Initially he faced many challenges. “Internet connectivity and speed was a big challenge. Using dial-up modems killed our time and effort. It was huge task, just sending a 1MB file as an attachment from remote areas,” he says. But with improving internet infrastructure, the problems have disappeared.

KPN’s network of professional photographers across Karnataka cover news, culture, crime, business and sports. These lensmen on the network execute, deliver and distribute the images via the network, which is headquartered in Bangalore.

His photojournalistic background was another reason for him to start KPN, as he understands the trade in and out. For a photographers, getting on the front page is a real big deal. Just like it is for journalists.

Ramaswamy has been in journalism for the past 27 years. He has worked as a sub-editor, reporter and a photojournalist in various publications including The Hindu, Indian Express/Kannada Prabha, Deccan Herald/Prajavani, Andolana and Star of Mysore. He was also the Photo Editor of the Tech Mail and a Consulting Editor with the Food & Nutrition World.

He has travelled to various countries like Egypt, Sri Lanka  to cover news. He has covered Operation Veerappan, a mission to capture the famous dacoit who once ruled the South Indian forests. Another interesting assignment was when he covered LTTE hideouts in Muttathi and Konanakunte, soon after the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. He has also covered various political and communal issues and developments in the state.

KPN will complete its 10th anniversary in October 2013.


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