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Master of the grammar of lens


Ask the ace photographer, B. Rajan Babu, what are the basic qualities of a good photographer?

He would narrate this story to drive home his point: While on a tour of Canada in 1942, Winston Churchill, lighting a fresh cigar, gave a photographer just a couple of minutes to take the snap. Disturbed by the wisps of smoke, the lensman pleaded with Churchill to put down the cigar for a moment, only to get a curt 'No'.

As time ran out, the worried photographer gently plucked the cigar from Churchill's mouth and simultaneously pressed the shutter, little knowing that he had clicked a historic portrait of the powerful statesman of the world in his characteristic pose. For, the camera had captured the "pugnacity and the indomitable spirit of the British bulldog in the darkest days of World War II".

After finishing the story he would ask you "What is the moral ofthis story?" Explaining it himself, Rajan Babu says, "A good photographer should be sharp with his or her five senses (taste, hearing, vision, touch and smell) and should be well versed with the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) and the 'nava rasas' (nine moods). If one is an adept in these things then the rest would follow. In the above case, Churchill's was an ordinary photograph by any standard but it was made dramatic in that fraction of a second when the photographer pulled out the cigar from his mouth. The elements of 'krodh' (anger) and 'ascharyam' (surprise) were dramatically captured in the lens, by none other than the legendary photographer, Yusuf Karsh."

That is not all. According to him, a good sense of lighting, understanding of the composition and taste for aesthetic values make a good photographer.

Rajan Babu wanted to become a painter and he was all set to become one but an ordinary Kodak 620 camera and one interaction with a Raja changed his life. "One of my cousins presented me a camera when I was in my seventh class and I causally clicked some photos that were appreciated by all and that was the seeding of a photographer in me. Later, when I joined the five-year diploma course in commercial art, I came across Raja Triambak Raj Bahadur, a pioneer in pictorial photography.

It was he who inspired me to wield the camera. And here I am today from a painter to a photographer.Starting his career as a lecturer in photography in Jawaharlal

Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, he later worked as a scientific photographer in International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics. He opened his studio in 1978 and has, thereafter, been one among the leading photographers in India.

Apart from wining a number of national and international awards he is the only Fellow of Royal Photographic Society from AP.



B. Rajan Babu

Till date Rajan Babu is one among the top few photographers in the country specialising in portraits that are oil finished and in black-and-white reproductions. Pictorial photographs, especially 'nude in nature', is his area of research and over the years he has reached such a stage of perfection that anybody in the trade could recgonise Rajan Babu's photos from a distance. He also specialises in industrial and advertising photography.

"I believe that the picture of a photographer should always reflect the experience of the artist and the images shall be as distinct as his signature. Then only one can generate a poetic picture," he says.

Rajan Babu believes that photography is like language and one should know the grammar well to become an expert. To give fillip to this idea, he has started the Rajan's School of Photography in Hyderabad to train budding photographers.

"I am still a learner and feel that every photographer should be so till he or she retires. Hard work and dedication hold the key for success. There is no short-cut to better photography," he asserts.

SUMIT BHATTACHARJEE

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