Raghu Rai – The Indian Photographer

Raghu Rai is an Indian photographer and photojournalist who takes photographs that give an insight into Indian culture.

I gained access to Rai’s portfolio and biography through his website on the internet, where he has uploaded his most successful images.

PAR309418.jpgRaghu Rai – The day before ….. 6 December 1993, Ayodhya. Photo Credit: http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535PGF#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535PGF&POPUPIID=2TYRYDDGZR83&POPUPPN=3

This was the first image I saw on Rai’s portfolio, it initially captured my attention due to it’s candid nature. I haven’t been to India and have little knowledge on their lifestyle, but I assume the shot is of a man dressed in his daily attire, accepting food off another man to hand to the monkey to his left. There is a smile on the mans face which I assume means he is pleased to feed the animal that looks very eager and just a little too close. However this doesn’t seem to affect him, essentially emphasising that stray monkeys approaching you on the street is a common thing in their society. Although the photo is quite dark, it does bring me a sense of joy being an animal lover myself, therefore I can relate to this mans happiness to feed the monkey. It reminds me of going to the zoo and feeding the animals there, these are delightful experiences and this image reminds me of those positive feelings.

PAR156288.jpgRaghu Rai – INDIA. Kolkata. 1987. A cow and deities on the banks of the Hooghly River. Photo credit: http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535PGF#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535PGF&POPUPIID=2S5RYD126027&POPUPPN=9

This image has several focal points, my eye was naturally directed to the woman, that then lead for me to seek what she was looking at which seemed to be a religious Hindu statue, then to the cow and then the boat… It is really difficult for me to unpack this image and discover the story behind it without researching it first. My understanding is that the woman used the cow as transportation to come to this statue to pray/worship, but I’m still confused on most things having little knowledge on the culture and religion, which is making me even more intrigued to further research.

Rai has a central style and technique to his work, it appears that they are taken with a film camera due to their grainy background effect and although his images can be quite dark (especially being black and white) they still evoke pleasant emotions.

PAR309411.jpgRaghu Rai – A ricksawman taking a nap in Jama Masjid Market Delhi 2005. Photo credit: http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535PGF#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535PGF&POPUPIID=2TYRYDDGZXDE&POPUPPN=30

This photograph is one of Rai’s more later works, I really appreciated his use of a long shutter speed. By having movement in the background it gave me the impression of time passing by as the man has a nap on the side of the road. I have heard before that many men sleep everywhere and anywhere in India, it is just apart of the culture which is what Rai attempts to convey through his work. Rai seems to have stemmed away from his geometric black and white style and has created a saturated bright and capturing image with carefully selected colours. The red, green and neutral colours all blend well together and the central figure in the frame is significantly sharp despite the extended shutter which is impressive.  I’d like to replicate Rai’s shutter technique and use that to my advantage when creating my works.

Raghu Rai has a major body of work that explores religion, cultural concepts and adopts numerous techniques in which i’d like to further study. Rai’s images seem to be his interpretation of his culture and the Indian people’s everyday lives, so in a way his photographs can be viewed as an autoethnography within itself.

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