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Yap Paljor Dorji Tashi- World Photography Day, 19 August 2012 Retrospective

Yap Paljor Dorji Tashi- World Photography Day, 19 August 2012 Retrospective

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Published by Tenzin C. Tashi
The son of Yap Tse Ten Tashi and an established photographer in his own right, PD Tashi documented in photographs a very important phase in Sikkim's history- first as a Himalayan monarchy, then the troubled years of 1974-75, and finally Sikkim in her new avatar as the Indian state of Sikkim. His extensive collection of photographs and slides is being made into a coffee-table book on what Sikkim was, titled 'Hiatus in the Himalayas'.
The son of Yap Tse Ten Tashi and an established photographer in his own right, PD Tashi documented in photographs a very important phase in Sikkim's history- first as a Himalayan monarchy, then the troubled years of 1974-75, and finally Sikkim in her new avatar as the Indian state of Sikkim. His extensive collection of photographs and slides is being made into a coffee-table book on what Sikkim was, titled 'Hiatus in the Himalayas'.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Tenzin C. Tashi on Aug 20, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Yap Paljor Dorji Tashi (Yap Penjorla)
The eldest son of Yap Tse Ten Tashi, Yap Penjorla not only inheritedhis father’s love for photography but also exhibited the same easycharm of his father.The Rhenock family having traditionally rendered consummate serviceto the Darbar, it seemed only natural for a young Penjorla to join thePalace in 1966 as the Aide-de-camp to Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal. Conscientious and loyal, he quickly rose to the post of Deputy Secretary to the Chogyal.As Sikkim made the transition from Himalayan kingdom to 22
nd
stateof India in 1974-75, Penjorla also made the personal transition asDeputy Secretary in the Home Department. In 1975, the Department of Tourism was created and he served as the first Deputy Director. In1979, the State Government created the Protocol Division of the HomeDepartment; he was chosen to helm it as Joint Secretary. He alsoserved as the first Director of the Information and Public RelationsDepartment. He held several posts in his long innings in the Stateadministration until his voluntary retirement as Secretary to theGovernment in 1997.But Penjorla always considered himself, in his own words,
‘An IPRman’.
IPR was the Department that he could identify with most, andwhich most people associated him with. He was happy to be able tocontinue to explore his passion for photography, and to meld it with hisofficial duties. He was the one who introduced the first aerial photography shots for the annual IPR calendar; strapped into his seat but dangling precariously out of a helicopter, he captured frame after frame of Sikkim’s natural beauty from his dangerous vantage point.An affable man, Penjorla established a formidable reputation as a manof great integrity and greater humility, earning himself the sobriquet of 
 Buddha Bhagwan
.’ He exemplified the idiom,
“The height of  greatness is not how tall you stand, but how much you stoop to shakethe smallest hand.”
 
His friends, contemporaries and most especially his subordinates fromvarious Departments remember him as a simple, unassuming man whowas always approachable, and ever ready to lend a helping hand. Hehad the gift of being able to relate to anyone from any strata of society,a trait that was to win him many loyal friends who still speak of himwith much love and respect.A former colleague at IPR, late Mr. Pemba Thondupla, wrote of him:
‘We, in IPR Department, learnt a lot and benefited immensely from hiswise counsel. Yap Penjorla himself was so however so modest and unpretentious that he can honestly be termed humility personified. Healways passed on the credit of good work to others and took the blameon himself. Generous, sympathetic and courteous, he went out of hisway to help his subordinate staff with whom he often merrily shared his snacks and jokes. There was not an iota of vanity in him.’ 
It is difficult to ascertain when exactly Penjorla started his tryst with photography, but as he was one of the very first subjects of his father’s photography while he was still in diapers, he was exposed to photography at a very early age. He cut his teeth on the other aspects o photography while helping at his father’s Tse Ten Tashi & Co. studio.Photography was such an integral part of his father’s life that it wasonly a natural corollary that Penjorla should also gravitate towards it.One of the earliest cameras he inherited from his father was a Mamiya,of Japanese make. A close friend, Mr. Babulal Malu of Panorama,recollects that it was a Sekor Super 23, with 120 mm format.Later, while dabbling with mid-format cameras, Penjorla enjoyed thedevelopments of the 70’s and 80’s, which saw major battles betweenthe major Japanese SLR brands: Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta andOlympus. Cameras were no longer heavy, all-metal and manual brutes;the invention of the IC resulted in much sleeker beauties withelectronic automation and compact, lightweight bodies.Originally, like most other photographers, Penjorla was enamoured of  Nikon SLRs. This ruled the professional SLR market, with its dual
 
advantages of solid quality and worksmanship. Among other Nikonmodels, he used a Nikon F1 for a long time, and extolled its virtues.In the late 1970’s, Penjorla was particularly taken in by his Canon AE-1, a 35 mm SLR film camera for use with interchangeable lenses. Thishistoric camera was the first microprocessor-equipped SLR andnotched up sales of over one million units, due to a successfulmarketing strategy. The various manual controls and accessories,combined with the lightweight body and unbeatable price, appealed toPenjorla who went on to own many other Canon cameras.Like his father, he liked to own and try out a series of modest camerasand zoom lenses. He briefly flirted with other brands like Pentax,Minolta and Olympus but continued to be an A1 and F1 man for thelongest time ever, despite owning a more sophisticated Canon EOSRebel. He was well-conversant with the intricacies of owning and usinga SLR, and his conversations were often peppered with terms like‘aperture/ thyristor/Nikkor zoom/shutter speed’ at a point of time whenthere were very few aficionados of photography in Sikkim.With regard to his photography, he was essentially a purist. He mostlyliked to work with 35mm Ektachrome transparencies. He preferred thechallenge of manual focus, fixing his own lens, and setting the apertureand shutter speed manually for the perfect frame. Although hesometimes enjoyed the relative ease of autofocus, and fixed lens, heheld that too much technology killed the real art of photography. Healso preferred black and white film, saying that colours detracted fromthe essence of shape and form.

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