The author talks to the veteran photographer about his work, and some of his favourite images over the years
"Photography for me is not my profession or even my hobby -- it is my dharma," says Raghu Rai about his tryst with the camera that started all the way back in 1965. "When I take my pictures, those are my moments of meditative pursuit, which take me closer to myself and the world," he philosophises, as we sit and chat in his study in New Delhi's Mehrauli, a bright open space with lots of natural light, the walls covered with photo frames.
Busy with various assignments, the septuagenarian proclaims that he feels "physically very fit, and intuitively more alive" and it is the unpredictibality of life that makes him go on. Rai is known for his extensive coverage of the country, from the Emergency to Pokhran, from the Bangladesh war to the Bhopal disaster, from Ayodhya to Kargil.
He was mentored by Henri-Cartier Bresson, the father of photojournalism, who appointed him to Magnum Photos in 1977. He recollects their first meeting: "The first person who turned up at the door at my first exhibition in Paris in 1971 turned out to be Bresson." He credits Bresson as extremely versatile, his legacy full of various directions for aspiring photographers.
Having worked for The Statesman and India Today, Rai feels that with his experience combined with the new tools of digital photography, "there are greater possibilities for me to explore -- now more than ever." He still prefers the black and white medium, and currently uses a Nikon DSLR.
He is working on a book commemorating his 50 years of photography, that will be published by Aleph by the end of the year. He has also founded a photography magazine, Creative Image, that is slated to launch on World Photography Day on August 19.
Take a look at Raghu Rai's other favourite images: