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Arjun speaking with Venkatappa by the lake

Stories have always been the most effective vehicle of passing knowledge down from generation to generation. Storytellers would travel from village to village narrating stories on, lives, livelihoods, cultures, values, knowledge systems, codes of conduct, divisions of labour, food systems, sociopolitics, and their relationships to their natural habitats. Somewhere along the way, this old practice started dying out, leaving precious local knowledge in the past.

We bring stories from India’s indigenous communities and rich rural countryside. We want power to go back to the communities who have managed their own resources for centuries before modern-era interventions upset the delicate balance of nature.

Native Picture is a media organisation that produces films, photo stories, podcasts and articles on the lives of people and their relationship with the earth. We have been working with civil society organisations for more than a decade telling the lost stories of small local communities. We work with our partner organisations to tell the tales of human perseverance and celebrate hum
an determination  and the process and benefits of local collectivised governance.


I’m Arjun Swaminathan. I’m a storyteller.

For over 15 years, I have used photography, film, podcasting, and community radio to showcase and amplify the stories of the people in India’s hinterlands—of their lives, their communities, and their connection to the earth; local governance; biodiversity conservation; and the interdependence of life on Earth.

My work has taken me closer to the faces behind local governance, efforts in the conservation of our rich biodiversity, the stories that have been passed down orally for centuries, and the people who depend on the earth as much as it depends on them. Everywhere I go, I am humbled by their love for nature and their trust in me to take their voices to the world.

My heart rests somewhere between a slab of cold stone and a hot cup of tea, listening to a fascinating tale of how one spell of hard rain changed the course of three generations. Or how a root, a leaf, and a mushroom once saved the life of a man.

That, to me, is home.

Portrait of Arjun Swaminathan

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