Raghu Rai (b. 1942)
Chhota Udepur, 1977
Raghunath Rai Chowdhry was born in 1942 in a small village of Jhhang, now in Pakistan. He started learning photography in 1962 and in 1965 joined The Statesman newspaper as its chief photographer. Impressed by an exhibit of his work in Paris in 1971, Henri Cartier-Bresson nominated Rai to join Magnum Photos in 1977.
Rai left The Statesman in 1976 to work as picture editor for Sunday, a weekly news magazine published in Calcutta. He left that in 1980 and worked as Picture Editor/Visualizer/Photographer for India Today – a news magazine, during its formative years. From 1982 to 1991, he worked on special issues and designs, contributing trailblazing picture essays on social, political and cultural themes, many of which became the talking point of the magazine.
His documentary for Greenpeace, on the chemical disaster at Bhopal in 1984 and its aftermath has resulted in a book and three exhibitions that have been touring Europe, America, India and Southeast Asia since 2004. 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.
He has served three times on the jury of the World Press Photo and twice on the jury of UNESCO’s International Photo Contest. He has exhibited his works in London, Paris, New York, Hamburg, Prague, Tokyo, Zurich and Sydney and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971. He won the French award ‘The Academy of Fine Arts Photography Award – William Klein’ in 2019. He lives in Delhi with his family and continues to be a correspondent of Magnum Photos.