‘Physical realities of photographs connect with energies and emotions’


• Framing a Photograph •

By Raghu Rai

Acts of faith Rai captures a moment of prayer with the Jama Masjid as the backdrop
Acts of faith Rai captures a moment of prayer with the Jama Masjid as the backdrop

THE LATE Jiddu Krishnamurthy’s article on his vision of creativity was republished inThe Times of India’s Speaking Tree column: “Most man-made creativity, as we call it, takes place from the known. The great musicians… acted from the known. Writers and philosophers have read and accumulated; although they developed their own style they were always moving, acting or writing, from that which they had accumulated: the known.” He suggests that this is not true creativity, it is taken from others, from society and from nature. That true creativity comes only when the mind is empty, without the distractions of your experience. I disagree.

Every civilisation needs to live in continuity and evolve with the times. Everything comes from somewhere. A person cannot even breathe in a vacuum. The great classical musicians, for example, create within the frameworks of ragas and the arrangement of their swaras, which are, in turn, the creations of past masters. For me, that framework was created by my brother S Paul, whose discussions with friends on the nuances of photography inspired me to borrow a camera from him and start taking pictures, as well as Henri Cartier-Bresson, a great visionary who had opened a number of avenues for us to follow. However, as I came to admire the work of a number of talented photographers, I realised that there could not be a person who would serve as my inspiration.

My greatest inspiration is life and nature’s magic. You stand at the same spot for days together, and it has such a variety of things to offer you and energies criss-crossing each other. The different moments, the different moods, the different energies, the different spaces and the different frames of mind are routes to exploration, and the more I read this fascinating book of Life, the deeper I go into it. In attempting to capture them all, I feel so inadequate, and that is the biggest challenge: to go on and on forever.

‘The karmayogi, the eternal witness in you, is the inspiration for any creative person’

In photography, we deal with physical realities. But even then, when you connect with every inch of space and are in tune with everything around you and all the energies and emotions, something else nudges you, whispering, “Hey, look at me.” That nudge is the moment of creativity. These moments need to be connected, but within that continuity, a new experience is born.

Even the greatest philosophies are put into words only after a moment of realisation based on experience. The karmayogi, the eternal witness in you, who lives in total connectivity, is the inspiration for any creative person when the Supreme Energy plays its part. My life is all about those energies, which nudge you into evanescent moments of creation. Those energies have the current and magic to stay alive.


Raghu RaiAn acclaimed photographer and a photojournalist, Raghu Rai was the protégé of Henri Cartier-Bresson. He has worked with Magnum Photos (which Bresson nominated him to),The Statesman and India Today. He has served thrice on the jury of the World Press Photo awards

Photo: Shailendra Pandey



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