F.E Chaudhry: Pakistani Christian Photojournalist – The man with a unique lens

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EF-Chaudhry
Faustin Elmer Chaudhry (FE Chaudry) was born on March 15th, 1909 to a Christian Rajput family in Saharanpur, India. His family moved to Jhelum, when he was young and he had his early education at Mission High School Dalwal, Jhelum and later graduated from FC College, Lahore.

Photography was a hobby that he picked up in his early years, back when taking pictures was still a cumbersome affair. As his skills as a photographer developed, he started working as a free lance photographer at the same time serving St. Anthony’s School as a science teacher in 1934.

The Civil and Military Gazette published his first news photographs in 1935. He then went on to be a freelance for Illustrated Weekly of India, Bombay and other papers. He documented important events such as the Muslim League Session in 1940 and Quaid-e-Azam’s visits to Lahore. After contributing to a few periodicals and newspapers and establishing that he was gifted, He was invited by Mian Iftikharuddin, the owner of Pakistan Times and a staunch Muslim League supporter, to be a part of the newspaper.

The Pakistan Times was the only independent newspaper of that time. Mr. Chaudhry joined as staff reporter in 1949 and remained associated with it till his retirement.

Chaudhry’s photographs mapped the journey and growth of a nation through its highest and lowest points – the times of Jinnah, the political uprisings during Ayub’s military takeover, Bhutto before his execution and others. He received a number of coveted awards from the government, such as the Tamgha-i-Khidmat, Sitara-i-Imtiaz and Pride of Performance, in recognition of his contribution to Pakistan.

He was affectionately known as ‘chacha’ by his fellow workers and is still recognized for having introduced innovative features to photojournalism, such as cricket action photography, pictorial and artistic studies of birds and animals in photojournalism. F.E. Chaudhry also played a very active and noticeable role in community affairs.

On Friday, March 15th, 2013 he met a silent and peaceful death, at the home of his eldest son, Cyril. As a devout Christian, Mr. Chaudhry upheld the finest principles of his faith – forbearance, a high regard for his community, tolerance and above all, the capacity to bear suffering. FE Chaudhry, fondly called Chacha, would remain in thoughts and minds of all the lives he touched and a legion of his well-wishers.