A photographer “by chance” by his own admission, Raghu Rai started off with a box camera presented to him by his brother. Hestarted pursuing photography in 1965 and joined The Statesman as Chief Photographer in 1966. He went on to become Picture Editor at Sunday, a weekly news magazine published from Calcutta, and remained there from 1977 to 1980. In1971 Raghu Rai was nominated to Magnum Photos, the world’s most prestigious photographers’ cooperative, by the legendary photographer Henri Cartier Bresson.
Since 1985, Rai has specialized in the extensive coverage of India and has produced more than 18 books, including Raghu Rai’s Delhi, The Sikhs, Calcutta, Khajuraho, Taj Mahal, Tibet in Exile,India and so on. The mention of these books unmistakably would guide one to understand him as an empathetic, humanist manufacturer of images. His work reminds the viewer over and again that it is the mind behind the lens that makes a good picture.
Over the years Rai has become one of India’s most recognised photographers and is respected for his insight while focusing on his subject matter, as well as for being a photographer inspired and intrigued by the multitude of Indian culture, capturing glimpses of the panorama through his lenses.
As a critic of his own work, he writes, “The time we live in is complex and multilayered. The experience of India is horizontal, it does not begin from anywhere, nor does it end anywhere. There comes a saturation point in any art form, the overloading of expression shows it down. A moment in space is just not enough and a panoramic experience creates the possibility of capturing simultaneityof moments happening in any given situation. And it opens up a much larger canvas to deal with.” Rai’s own words best describe his work with uttermost humility and sensibility.
Raghu Rai lives and works in New Delhi