India has been the budding ground for numerous photography pundits. We have handpicked some famous Indian photographers and have tried to encompass some of their works and achievements. In all sense they are surely heavy cannons of photography, India and across the world.
Benu Sen (26 May 1932 – 17 May 2011) was an Indian photographer from Kolkata, India. Be it his monochromes with alluring play of light and shade, or his poignant candid shots – he has proved his expertise in varied domains of photography. His contribution both as individual artist and as a promoter for the development of Indian Photography perhaps exceeds that of any Indian Photographer.
A ground engineer by education, an incident with a friend motivated him to assemble his very own camera. The success of this attempt triggered a spurt of diverse experimentation in camera mechanics and darkroom techniques. In 1957, he co-established the Photographic Association of Dumdum (PAD) to practice, propagate and discuss the nuances of this art form. In 1963, he helped setup a state-of-the-art photography department in the Indian Museum Kolkata. He authored and co-authored several books.
He retired from the Indian Museum as photo Officer in 1990 where he contributed a lot in the field of Social & Cultural Anthropology and allied Museum Photography. He received various prestigious awards like Life-Time Achievement award of Rs.100,000 and a citation in the pictorialists category, and several others.He was also conferred honorary fellowships like F.J.I.A.P. (Japan), F.N.P.A.S. (Sri Lanka) and others.
Popular by her pseudonym “Dalda 13,” Hoami was India’s first woman photojournalist. She was born on 9 December 1913 at Navsari, Gujarat, India. Vyarawalla, graduated from Bombay University and the Sir J. J. School of Art.
Having started her career in 1930s, she was the pioneering woman who photographed professionally at a time when it was rare to see a woman with a camera. She created a rich visual archive through her black and white images of political events but she also documented social and cultural life in the country.
She captured pivotal moments in India’s history of independence as well as notable dignities who passed through Delhi, from Eisenhower to Martin Luther King, but her favorite subject was Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. At the onset of the World War II, she worked on assignments for a Bombay based “The Illustrated Weekly of India” magazine, for long time till 1970. The magazine published many of her iconic black and white images.
In 1970, shortly after her husband’s death, Homai Vyarawalla decided to give up photography career and thereafter lived a fiercely independent life in Vadodara until she passed away in January 2012.
In 2010, Vyarawalla gave her entire collection of prints, negatives, cameras and other memorabilia to the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, New Delhi for safekeeping and documentation. A retrospective of her work was held at the NGMA soon after, bringing her vast archive into public view.
Homai received India’s first National Photo Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010, and the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honor, in 2011.
Madhaviah was a revolutionary Indian wildlife photographer, writer as well as a naturalist. He was born on 30th of June, 1912 in Tirunelveli. In school days he developed a keen interest in art, literature and nature and grew up to be a Botany graduate and a lawyer.
His career started as a writer in many Tamil magazines and later he took up employment with Maharaja of Sandur, that included being a judge, publicity officer, school teacher and a political secretary to Maharaja. In 1950s he started off with his journey to become of the most noted chronicler of India`s wildlife in his times.
He became a nature activist and won Nehru fellowship. His works encompassed the work to plan on conservation of fauna and flora of the India.
Krishnan was a not a big fan of technological advances and worked only with black and white film. He also went ahead with some innovations in photography equipment and created a camera of his own among others.As a wildlife photographer he had adoration, amusement and even respect for the tiniest of creatures. Of all the animals he photographed and researched he was particularly fond of elephants.
Krishnan fought many battles on for wildlife management and on ethics in wildlife photography. He advocated maximum protection to wildlife and its habitat and least interference by man.
He passed away on 18 February 1996 and left back numerous memories of a great photographer and a better human being.
A dignified fashion and fine art photographer from India, Prabuddha was born in Kolkata in September 1956. He graduated from Delhi and was a trained historian and started his career as copywriter with advertising agency Everest, but turned to photography full-time in late 1980s.
Starting with a campaign for Blue Lagoon jeans, he went ahead to shoot with the first generation of Indian supermodels including Madhu Sapre, Feroze Gujral, among others. He shot first advertisements of KamaSutra condoms in 1991, with models Pooja Bedi and Marc Robinson, whose popularity propelled the brand to be India’s top-selling condom brand. He was also part of some controversial shoots including the one for ‘Tuff Shoes’ in 1995. Known for his iconic black and white imagery, he had an extended career, primarily as a fashion photographer, spanning more than three decades
Over time he worked with several leading magazines, like Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and GQ, and published several art books of his photographs. Books include the widely acclaimed ‘Women’, ‘Ladakh’ and others.
His first personal show titled, Longing was held in New York in 2007, and was reviewed by The Paris Review. He was one of those photographers who invented glamour in India, and mentored some famous photographers including Tarun Khiwal and Bharat Sikka.
He passed away 12 August 2012, but brought a bold, individualistic sensibility in photography that will mark his name in history of successful photographers.
A photographer well specialized for his coverage for India, Raghu Rai was born in British India in 1942.Having started his career in 1965, he joined the staff of The Statesman, a New Delhi publication. But soon he moved on to be a freelance photographer.
He played a key role as Picture Editor/Visualizer/Photographer of “India Today” during its formative years. From 1982-1992 he worked on special issues and designs, and contributed picture essays on social, political and cultural topics, as the director of photography for India Today.
He has produced more than 18 books, including Raghu Rai’s Delhi, The Sikhs, Calcutta, Khajuraho, Taj Mahal, Tibet in Exile, India, and Mother Teresa. His photo essays have appeared in many magazines and newspapers including Time, Life, GEO, The New York Times, and other famous publications. His photographs appeared in numerous national and international exhibitions.
Working with Greenpeace in 1984, he prepared an in depth documentary on the chemical disaster at Bhopal in 1984 and its aftermaths. He has been endowed with several honors like Padmashree in 1972, and Photographer of the Year from USA (1992).
He has served three times on the jury of the World Press Photo and twice on the jury of UNESCO’s International Photo Contest.
An important photographer during times of Indian war of independence, Kulwant Roy was born in British India in 1914. He grew up to join Royal Indian Air Force where he mastered the skill of aerial photography.
After discharging his duties in RIAF, he moved to Delhi and set up a full-fledged photography agency named “Associated Press Photographs”. Having been associated with Mahatma Gandhi is his travels; he became an influential photographer of his times and used his insider status with several Indian independence leaders like Gandhi, M.A Jinnah, J L Nehru and others, to capture many crucial events and important people.
His several iconic photographs showcased eminent Indian political figures in important events related to Indian independence. Even post Indian independence, he was closely associated with J L Nehru and photographed him and his family.In the 1950s, he was one of the first to document the trek by pilgrims to the cave at Amaranth India.
He went for a world tour in 1958 and photographed in over 30 countries, but unfortunately his negatives were stolen in India.He died in Delhi in 1984 and left surviving photographic negatives and archives to his nephew Aditya Arya.
The India Photo Archive Foundation displays Kulwant Roy’s pictures at its museum and has organized several exhibitions of his works.His collection of photographs was published in several books and a movie was also made on the same.
Widely acclaimed to be the pioneer of color photography to this modern world, Raghubir Singh was born in Jaipur, India in 1942, into an influential family.He is particularly known for his landscapes and documentary-style photographs of the people of India.
In 1970s he was one of the first photographers to have reinvented the use of color in days of marginal color photography and is acknowledged with several world renowned international photographers as one of the finest photographer of his generation. He was in tradition of small-format street photography, and worked in colors to showcase the intrinsic value of Indian aesthetics.
Beauty, nature, Hinduism and spirituality were linchpins of Indian culture and became inspiration of his work. In his early work Singh focused on the geographic and social anatomy of cities and regions of India. During his career he worked with National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, The New Yorker and Time.
He taught visual arts in New York and published 14 well received books including the very famous one, Ganges.He was given several awards including Padma Shri, by Government of India in 1983. He died on 18 April 1999 of a heart attack and it was a great loss to Indian photography.
Numerous exhibitions and group shows have been organized round the world that showcase his immortal works.
Thakur Dalip Singh
An internationally renowned natural and wildlife photographer, Dalip was born on 5 August 1953, in Punjab, India, to a very influential and spiritual family.
He grew up to be a professional agriculturist, and a keen sports promoter and lover. He helped prepare India’s top ranking Namdhari Hockey Team, from which players represented India in Olympics as well. He helped setup school, colleges and organize various religious functions.
Introduced to photography in his childhood days, he groomed his skills under guidance of several eminent Indian photographers of those times like Madan Mahatta, Rajesh Bedi and other.He practiced aerial photography in various locations across the world.
“Bharatpur Bird Paradise” – a collection of his pictures is a epithet of his expertise. Other such books having his fabulous images are Jungle Life Of India “Birds Of India”, Animal Encyclopedia, “Karnataka Wild life” among others.
His photographs have featured on covers of famous magazines like British Journal of Photography, Sanctuary Asia, and many other publications. A number of them have been published in B.B.C Wildlife, 35 mm Photography, U.K., ‘Photography’ U.K., Femina, Zoom, Asiad 82 magazine, and most Indian newspapers.
He is Founder Member of “India International Photographic Council”, and trustee of “Academy of Visual Media”. He is also a life member of the Bombay Natural History Society and World Wildlife Fund, India. Besides being member of various societies and clubs, he has been faculty in several international workshops and judged several national and international photo exhibitions.
He has been conferred with over 150 International and National Awards including Life Time Achievement Award Conferred by Academy of Visual Media in 2004.
An activist, engineer, painter, photographer and writer- alphabetically this could be the best description possible for him. A Bengali sharp mind born in 1967 in Berhampore, India, Subhankar got his engineering degree from Kolkata and later two masters degrees from New Mexico State University in the United States.
His passion for photography started in New Mexico days, and finally in 2000 he quit his research career and began a long–term photography project in the Arctic.
After long research in Arctic he published his widely acclaimed book ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE: SEASONS OF LIFE AND LAND, in 2003. The book received several awards, including Independent Publishers Book Awards: Silver Award on Environment, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award: Gold Award on Environment, among several others.Since then he has been working on several publications addressing current issues of climate change in the Arctic, resource war, and human rights using first-person narratives from activists, writers, and researchers. His works have become instrumental in the conservation efforts of several Eco-culturally significant areas of the American Arctic.
Subhankar has given over one hundred lectures, and participated in numerous panels, across the United States and Europe. Subhankar has received many awards for his efforts, including an inaugural Cultural Freedom Fellowship from Lannan Foundation (2003), an inaugural Greenleaf Artist Award from United Nations Environment Programme (2005) and numerous others.
One of the most acclaimed celebrity portraitists, Gautam was a leading Indian fashion photographer. He was born September 16, 1950 in Mumbai, India.
He graduated in Chemistry from Mumbai, and later completed his diploma in advertising and public relations. He started with photo services department of a leading advertising agency, Lintas, in 1974 and in 15 years duration he worked aggressively to rise to the head of department, and continued his childhood passion for photography as well.
He started writing for his cousin Shobha De’s magazine ‘Celebrity’ and was soon acclaimed a glamour photographer. He went on to work for film magazines like film magazines like Stardust, Cineblitz and Filmfare.
He started fashion photography in 1980 and after shooting several Bollywood actors and actresses he switched to full time commercial photography in 1987. Then he started with product campaigns, media assignments and fashion portfolios.
In 1992, he wrote his first screenplay, for the film, ‘Bekhudi’, which launched actress Kajol’s career and his second, ‘Anjaam’ presented Madhuri Dixit with a challenging role.He launched a coffee table book, FACES that featured 45 film personalities including actresses from Durga Khote to Aishwarya Rai. Several exhibitions have been help in India and across the world that showcased his photography work.
He passed away on morning of September 13, 2011.Having been associated with numerous successful Bollywood films, he will remain immortal in heart of all fans!!
Vikram Bawa is a proved multifaceted photographer, with consummate examples of fashion, automobile and landscape photography.
Born on March 16, 1970; he graduated from Elphinstone College, Mumabi. Starting as the Managing Director of a chemical firm, his career took a steep turn when he plunged into professional photography in 1996.
His first shoot was with Rani Jeyraj, Miss India 1996 and since then there was no looking back. The credit for showcasing and promoting 3D photography in India also goes to him.
He has been associated with various top fashion magazines like Femina, Verve, Hello!, L’Officiel, Elle, Hi Blitz, Marie Claire, Stuff among others numbering at over 300 covers. Other brands that he has been associated with include Coca Cola, Dove, Godrej, L’oreal, Reebok, Skoda India, Sony Electronics, Taj Hotels, Catwalk, Kingfisher Airlines, Sahara Ambey Valley, The Leela Palace, Goa, FSP London and many more.
Vikram has also promoted several art shows over the years and also held a solo art exhibition titled The Other Side at the Gallery Art & Soul in November 2012. Owing to his marvelous works he has been endowed with several awards like Most Influential People in Photography Industry, Asian Photography Awards, 2010 and 2011.
The first and only Indian to be honored with the Hasselblad Masters Award. Also, the first Indian whose work was chosen for the Swiss light manufacturer Broncolor’s annual calendar in 2012. These are some of the numerous accolades of one of the country’s most sought after photographer, Tarun Khiwal.
Born in Mathura, India in 1967, he got his engineering degree from Lucknow. But as he was a photographer at heart, he could not apply himself to his job and began career as a photographer in 1989. He managed to gain apprenticeship with renowned architectural and interior photographer, Hardev Singh. This was followed by apprenticeships with fashion photographers, Prabuddha Dasgupta and Atul Kasbekar. In 1995, he started to work independently, initially with magazines like Societyand First City. This gradually led to his entry to the fashion industry, over the next few years.
In 2004, when he was awarded the “Fashion Photographer of the Year Award” at the Lycra MTV Style Award and Kingfisher Fashion Photographer of the Year award.Over the course of time, Khiwal has worked with brands such as Reebok, Nestle, Nokia, Panasonic, Gillette, American Express and Honda and magazines like Elle and Cosmopolitan.He has created images of Bollywood stars, which include the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sushmita Sen, Katrina Kaif and others.