Adnan Abidi observes the world with a provincial eye, a frame he creates to display emotions from his vantage point. Academics and textbooks never caught his fascination. At one point, Adnan’s parents wanted to set for him a tiny grocery shop; but instead of passively observing the world pass by, Adnan busied himself in collecting photography books and fashion magazines for his sisters from a public library. When young Adnan Abidi looked at a picture of legendary photographer S. Paul with awe, little did he know that decades later he would himself become a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist.
Fashion photography enamored him as he flipped through the pages of fashion magazines, and yet it incited in him a curiosity for “a world of contradictions.” While growing up in a city like Delhi, he saw around him everything from those glamorous faces in glossy pages to mundane faces. Adnan’s father secured him an internship at a photography firm where he was expected to make tea, mop the floor, and work as a dark-room assistant. His father eventually dipped into his pension fund and bought him a Nikon FM2 film camera. Since then, Adnan and his camera have become a witness to the world around him. Adnan understands the process of life and death, never betraying the respect for boundaries. He says his life is “dull," but it's his work that makes his story interesting.
In a career spanning over 20 years, he has worked with several leading news agencies such as the Pan-Asia News Agency (PANA), the Indo Photo News, and the Press Trust of India before joining Reuters in 2005. He has since then been working for the international agency, covering a gamut of subjects ranging from breaking news, politics, natural disasters, economics, and sports to spot and feature news stories.
Awards and Recognition
His work covering the Rohingya exodus won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2018. In 2020 he won the Pulitzer again for his coverage of the Hong Kong protests, and he earned his third Pulitzer Prize in 2022 while covering the COVID pandemic in India. His photography also won First Place in the Breaking News category of the NPPA Best of Photojournalism contest. His work during the Sri Lanka economic crisis earned him the Award of Excellence in POY Asia in 2023.
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