IT was in 1977 when noted French humanist photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson appointed his protege Raghu Rai — a young photojournalist at the time — to Magnum Photos. The rest, as they say, is history. More than three decades later, the Raghu Rai Center for Photography is training young photographers in the field of social, cultural and political photography, in the style of the legendary photographer himself. Every year, some of their works are exhibited to give them a wider exposure.
In its seventh edition, the exhibition, this year, features works of 21 students, covering genres such as street and documentary, landscapes, photojournalism, portraits, photo stories, fashion and product photography. Apart from 62 standalones, there are eight photo stories — on the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, 2019 General Elections and the Sikh festival of Jor Mela.
As a child who grew up in Allahabad (now Prayagraj), Naman Agrawal was always intrigued by the Kumbh Mela — how his city transformed during those 90 days, with hordes of sadhus and visitors. So, he says, it came naturally to him to attend the Kumbh Mela earlier this year to photograph what he saw. Five of his pictures form the series “The Divinity of Kumbh”. “I visited the Kumbh four times this year and took hundreds of pictures,” says Agrawal. The images have the ‘Shahi snan’ of Naga sadhus, people taking a dip in the Ganga, and another photograph that captures a wall painting of samudra manthan, the mythical event that is believed to have led to the Kumbh.
Like Agrawal, Patiala-based Money Saxena also goes back to his childhood memories of witnessing the annual Jor Mela in Fatehgarh Sahib. “For the three days the mela was held in December last year, I shot continuously. I would have taken hundreds of pictures of the procession, the chivalry displayed during gatka and thousands partaking the langar,” he says about his five-piece series “Jor Mela”.
The highest contributor, with 15 works in the exhibition, Mahak Bhalla, travelled extensively during the year — to Mumbai, Delhi, Shimla and Rishikesh — to capture the streets, landscapes and the faces she found interesting. Some of her fashion photographs are also on display.
The series “Choice of India”, meanwhile, covers the biggest event of the year — the general election — with contributions from several photographers. In a photo series titled “A Kalasham”, Aditya Satheesh captures a popular festival in Kerala.
The curator of the show, Nitin Rai, director of the centre, says, “This year, we have various genres of photography, which includes landscape, portrait, street, photojournalism, photo series, fashion and product — giving the students a bigger market for assignments and jobs. Most importantly, it covers all the important incidents that took place in India in the last one year.”
The exhibition is on till September 19 at AIFACS, Rafi Marg, New Delhi, from 11 am to 7 pm