M. Palani Kumar (IN)

Palani Headshot

Born 1991, Madurai, Tamil Nadu , India
Lives and works Chennai, India
Hailing from the village of Jawaharlalpuram in Madurai district, M Palani Kumar decided to pursue engineering as per the wish of his mother, a fish seller. He graduated with B.E., E&I under the sports category. In 2013, while he was still pursuing engineering, he applied for a loan and purchased his first camera.
He worked as a cinematographer for the critically acclaimed documentary [Kakoos] – a searing narrative on the lives of manual scavengers in Tamil Nadu. In a couple of years, Kumar put together his first photography exhibition – Naanum oru Kullanthai(I am a child too) in Chennai, featuring photographs of the children of manual scavengers.

Since 2019, as a fellow of PARI, Kumar is currently documenting the lives of working-class women across India. Kumar is also associated with Pep Collective – a Forum of socially responsible photographers in Tamil Nadu.

He was recognized as one of the ‘Top Ten Humans 2019’ by Ananda Vikatan – a widely recognized Tamil Magazine, for his attempt to sensitize and visibilise the work of manual scavengers to an otherwise desensitized world. In March 2020, he received the ‘Best Story of the Year – 2020’ award from the Public Relations Council of India. In 2022, he received award from Zee Tamil’s ‘Tamizha Tamizha Award’.

He received the Amplify grant in 2021. In November 2020, he received the Imagining the Nation State grant from Chennai photo biennale, and in October 2020, The Samyak Drishti and Photo South Asia Grant. In 2022, he received the first Hasselblad Award-winning photographer Dayanita Singh- PARI Documentary Photography Award.
Kumar hopes to continue using his art form to bring to light, the lives, celebrations, and struggles of marginalized communities which are often neglected.

PHOTO 2024 Events

Founding Partners
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Major Government Partners
  • City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program
  • Creative Victoria
Major Partners
  • Maddocks

PHOTO Australia respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live, and the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures across what is now called Australia. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land, and we honour Elders and cultural leaders past and present. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

01–24 March