#ThrowbackThursday: Raghu Rai

Photography by Hormis Antony Tharakan

#ThrowbackThursday: Raghu Rai

“As a friend, he is my best friend. On the other hand, as a photographer he is still very far away as when he is shooting, there is no connect, he is his own man and he does not need anybody”, says Avani Rai about her father, Raghu Rai, in a conversation with us following the release of her documentary on him, Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait. 

Platform Magazine, in collaboration with The Quorum, presents the screening of Avani Rai's documentary at 7:00 p.m. today, followed by a conversation with Raghu Rai and Avani Rai, at The Quorum. As Avani Rai celebrates Raghu Rai's India and more importantly, explores her relationship with her father through the documentary, we revisit our conversation with one of the most celebrated names in the world of photography!

“For me, every little experience matters so every image is equally important because I am a product of all that put together.”

What is your relationship with photography and the photographic image?
Photography is my religion. I do it like a good pilgrim. I work and do my job with honesty like you do your prayers and once it’s done, once the picture is taken, then my relationship with that picture is over and does not linger on. I am not the kind who carries his work in his heart. For me, every little experience matters so every image is equally important because I am a product of all that put together. 

You are India’s leading lens man. What is the one thing you would like today’s aspiring photographers to take away from your experience?
Very simple - don’t take all those good pictures which are stored in the mind, because God installed a bigger computer in each one of us before computers were available in the market. The computers that are installed within us have a memory that can expand to as much as you will, but the dangerous part is that in creativity, this memory you cannot delete. And when you come from memory that means you are reproducing - simple as that. And, nothing is purer than your own purity and your ability to reflect that purity. 

“Photography is my religion. I do it like a good pilgrim.”

What are your observations of photography in India and the photography market at large?
The churning is happening. There are a lot more photographers today, but the bulk of them are influenced by the western style of photography. Some think that back home people won’t notice it. Globalization has come to India now but in the art space you stand on a global platform, there is no set boundary. As artists, it is our responsibility or call it a liability - you have to know what’s gone on and what’s going on and where is the world going and you have to meet it a few steps ahead. The market is better than what it was when I began, but still it will take its own time. 

What are your expectations from the art/photography world?
I don’t expect. In creativity, many people are jealous of each other but to reject other people’s work without understanding, without having the vision because you are jealous, is demeaning your own spirit. A lot of art is created because it is trendy or fashionable, but all things trendy will disappear with time. You have to be the eternal witness who can reflect the truth and the vision of society in a most poignant and honest way and that will stay.

Our conversation with Raghu Rai was first published in our Art Issue of 2013. This article is a part of Throwback Thursday series where we take you back in time with our substantial article archive.

Text Shruti Kapur Malhotra

#ThrowbackThursday: Raghu Rai