30 photographs that beautifully capture social change as they unfold


Announcing the winners of the SocialStory Photo Contest.

SocialStory had launched a photo contest earlier in August, inviting photographers from across India to discover and capture social change in action. With more than 2,000 submissions pouring in, the response overwhelmed us.

After multiple rounds of shortlisting, a set of 30 photos were selected and sent to the judges. They were also showcased on Facebook for public voting. The responses from the judges and readers were compiled following which we are proud to announce the winners of the contest.

Win or lose, we cherish each of these photographs for its creativity and approach. As Aruna Roy, the famous social activist and one of the judges for the contest said,

"I wish I could have given them all the same grades."

Notable Picks

This image was clicked in Mumbai, when I was covering the life of people living under flyovers. I was pleasantly surprised to know that though these families lack proper shelter and live an underprivileged life, they chose to send their daughter to school. The awareness around education of women was worth appreciating. Photographer : Akhila Easwar
"The innocence is well captured and composed," Varun Aditya, Natgeo Nature Photographer of the year, 2016, said while judging the picture.


Eureka! I’ve done it. The happiness of stitching a men’s shirt was evident on this trainee’s face as she was attending her vocational training course. In the picture, you can also see her mentor smiling at her joy. Photographer: Amitava Chandra


A photograph of five Santhali schoolgirls taken at Rajnagar, Jharkhand. Here, tribal girls attending school is a sign of progress. After school, the girls also take care of the housework. Interestingly, the girl to boy ratio at this school is equal and the teachers say that the girls outperform the boys. Photographer : Ashutosh Kumar


Hunger indeed makes you do heart-wrenching things. Like in this picture, the old man is sharing his food with a street dog. Photographer: Badir Sadique


A young school girl trying to study against all odds shows how important education is. Photographer: Chetan Krishna


Pre-university girls of the Government High School and Junior College in Nagrota Suriya, Himachal Pradesh learn to battle the taboo surrounding periods. In a society where conversation around menstruation is hushed, these girls were learning to reclaim their health and bodies through dialogue and education. Photographer: Maneesh V. Nair


In the outskirts of Delhi, Parvati takes some time out of her daily pottery work to drawing landscapes and abstracts at her home. What is interesting is that she has found the perfect balance between her education and passion, while also lending a helping hand to the business. This is important in today's context, where a girl child is still given low priority in a household. Photographer: Prabir Kumar Talukdar


A potter's art is greatly shaped by the forces in his life. In this case, a foreigner's hands and his are ready to create a piece of art that celebrates pottery without boundaries. Photographer: Raashi Metkari


Clicked during the first week of July when schools had reopened after summer vacations. Girls were happy attending their first day in school. Photographer: Radha Swami


Poverty is the cause of child labour. Children work as an extended hand to their family, as an earning member to get rid of the poverty. It’s also a result of overpopulation. They work in both hazardous and non-hazardous occupations. Photographer: Ranita Roy


‘Basic education is very important to run day to day life’, ‘Roti, Kapda, Makan’ are the fundamentals necessities for human beings. And to access them one must possess basic arithmetic, reading and writing skills. But sadly, sometimes the poor become poorer due to lack of education. Hence, to educate them and bring a little bit of hope in their lives is the aim. Photographer: Saloni Raju Pandhram


Clicked at the Jama Masjid Agra, a young boy in his early twenties is reading a book. Photographer: Sanchit Khandelwal


Well, somewhere along the line humanity is still alive. Photographer: Sumit Das


One of the most inspiring people I found while photographing on the streets of Kolkata is Ria. Sitting on the footpath at College Street, she is completing her homework before the sun sets. She says, “I read in class and I have to complete my homework now because we don’t have access to light at night.” Along with her studies, Ria is also taking care of her younger sibling, until her mother returns from work. Photographer: Tanmoy Bhaduri


The karate training for the Musahari girls at Nari Gunjan hostel is more than just self-defence. It is a means to self-belief. Back home, sexual abuse is widespread. The girls live fearful, under-confident lives and an early marriage is seen as an antidote to the problem of abuse. But, karate training brews fresh hope for these girls. It helps them take ownership of their bodies and their minds.Photographer: Vikram Singh


This image was clicked at my home town in Uttrakhand. The theme is education in rural area. Photographer : Trilok Singh Bangari


The top 10

These selected photographs will receive special gift vouchers.

Under the National Health Mission (NHM) a doctor checks the respiration of a newborn in a village located near the border of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Photographer: Prabir Kumar Talukdar
"The light says it all. A well-composed storyteller," says Varun.


The image was taken during a Health Camp Aid in the regional areas of Darjeeling, where I accompanied seven doctors specialising in various fields like eye, dental, gynaecological problems, etc. These doctors are professional practitioners in their respective fields who for seven days went to the hills to help the local people out there who were in need of medication for their deteriorating health issues. Photographer: Ritam Talukdar


In this picture, you can see an old man feeding the monkeys religiously with Bengal gram and jaggery (chana and gud). Monkeys are seen as an incarnation of Lord Hanuman, according to Hindu traditions. Photographer: Shreya Maheshwari


The act of showing care isn't restricted to just Homo sapiens! Here is a man helping a cow to quench its thirst from a hand pump. Photographer: Shreya Maheshwari


Kathakali is not a very popular art and in modern composition it is struggling to find its way. Usually led by a male dancer, it is distinguished by the elaborate colourful make-up, costumes and face masks. These days, women have come forward to practice the art form. Photographer: Avdhesh Tyagi
"Struggle has been well-portrayed in her expression," Varun says.


A Jat woman feeds a motherless child with bottled milk in the Rann of Kutch. Photographer : Bandita Mukherjee


Amidst all the chaos in the local market, there exists a place (which we later realised looked more like a museum) that contains relics from WW II. The owner was too possessive to sell any of articles displayed. I showed him this picture and told him I will be back to interview him someday. Photographer : Sahana V.P


The age-old-boat race of Kerala creates enthusiasm, every time the festivities come calling. Women in the state challenge the stereotype by rowing the boat which is usually a ritual led by men (as a symbol of strength). Photographer: Ankita Dahake


In the schools of Kondgaon, girls rule! They walk more than three kilometres everyday to attend school. What we experienced in that village, where children and especially girls are encouraged to study till at least 12th grade, we realised is women empowerment. Photographer: Tanmay Gangani


Clicked this at a friend’s farmhouse in Haryana. The watchman's daughter, though she is busy with daily chores, takes breaks to study. Photographer: Vishal Sharma

And the winners are...

Viewer’s Choice award (Rs 10,000; decided by popularity on social media) -

In Koppal district in North Karnataka, Prabhakar and his team from Samuha (Samarthya) organisation visit the poor families to identify the symptoms of disability and provide early intervention. Team Samarthya has reached more than 6800 people with disability through various programmes. In the picture Mr. Prabhakar visits a family of little girl affected with Microcephaly. Photographer: Ravi Valdiya

3rd Prize (Rs 10,000 cash prize) -

This shot was taken at the Ganga Ghat of Varanasi, where a wrestler practises in the traditional ‘gymnasiums’ or kushti akharas along the ghats of river Ganga. Photographer : Sudipta D Chowdhury
"A very well framed story teller," says Varun.

2nd Prize (Rs 30,000 cash prize) -

Each morning, before he opens his grocery store, 46-year-old Rajesh Kumar Sharma heads to a metro bridge in the east of India's capital, New Delhi. It isn't the bridge that interests him, but what goes on beneath it. For this is where he founded what he affectionately calls the free school under the bridge. With no walls, the pillars of the flyover serve as a boundary. But for the roughly 300 pupils - mostly children of impoverished migrant labourers, daily wage workers and seasonal farmers - it offers the chance of an education. Photographer: Sameer Mushtaq


1st Prize (Rs 50,000 cash prize) -

A little girl scared of the needle, at a rural blood test camp. Photographer : Madhabendu Hensh
"I really loved it ! Such a story telling image! Especially the expression and the dark light portraying the darkness of rural areas." - Varun writes.

We congratulate all the winners! We would also like to thank Varun Aditya, Deepti Asthana, and Aruna Roy for taking the time out and judging these pictures.

The prizes will be distributed at an event organised at YourStory headquarters on December 8th from 3-5 pm. The shortlisted entries will also be exhibited during the event.


Updates from around the world