Raghu Rai is India’s best known photographer. Known for panoramic and wide angle shots creating a deep contemplation, Raghu received Padmashree in 1972. He was also named as the Photographer of the Year from USA in 1992. He has also served three times on the jury of the World Press Photo.
Raghu started his photography career at the age of 23. A graduate in civil engineering, he joined ‘The Statesman’ in 1965 as the chief photographer. He later joined ‘Sunday’ as the photo editor and then worked as the Director of Photography for India Today for nearly a decade.
Impressed by Raghu’s work, legendary photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson nominated him to Magnum Photos in 1977.
Raghu says that camera is a part of him- “I can never be true to my experiences without it.” Referring to his role as a photographer witnessing important and historic events, he says ‘at once you are both the document and the documentarian.”
Raghu is known for his powerful documentation on Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984. Remembering his experience, Raghu says that the photos are necessary, if not for bringing change, to remind people/bureaucrats of what happened. Written history can be rewritten, but photo history cannot. He wanted to capture the essence of the tragedy in a simple, honest manner.
He is also known for his powerful portraits of personalities like Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama among others. On meeting Mother Teresa three to four times in the 1970s for a feature story for Junior Statesman, Raghu was so influenced by her work and personality that Raghu wanted to do his own book of her pictures. Although, Mother Teresa didn’t like photographers taking pictures of her but he convinced her by the authenticity of his work.
Raghu’s lenses have brilliantly captured some greatest personalities and historic events of changing India over the course of almost five decades. Raghu Rai is our Xpert on photography. Xpert is an online Q&A platform that connects you directly to your idol. Sign up today and ask your first question.