Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Life's iconic images

I was glancing through the astonishing archive of Life Magazine. Except National Geographic, perhaps no other magazine in the world has such a phenomenal collection of iconic pictures. During its peak, some of the world’s best photographers worked for it. Henri Cartier Bresson, Margaret Bourke White, Alfred Eisenstaedt to name just three. I once remember picking up an issue of Life with Jackie Kennedy's pictures from a road-side bookseller at Fort at some Rs 50. It was an absolute steal.

But, I was a bit stunned to look at Life magazine site. They have put everything on sale, which is good in a way for the readers, but it seems reduced to an online shop. I wish Life had continued being that classy magazine and carried on the good work though its inevitable. Photography itself has undergone such a change both technologically and stylistically.

I was looking at Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic picture Kissing the War Goodbye showing a US soldier kissing his partner passionately at Times Square to celebrate the end of World War II in 1945. What a picture!

Surfing on Life website is a great journey. One just comes across iconic images after images. Life takes you inside the homes of some of the biggest Hollywood icons. Another evergreen gallery is Classic Hollywood romances. Paul Newman’s first marriage was brief in characteristic Hollywood style, but the second with Joanne Woodward turned out be a Hollywood rarity for its longevity. These pictures tell the sweet story

Friday, April 23, 2010

Through Raghu Rai's eyes

Picture Copyright: Magnum Photos

India’s finest photojournalist Raghu Rai’s new book on classical musicians promises to be interesting. Titled India’s Great Masters: A photographic journey into the heart of Classical Music (Collins, Rs 3,500), the book takes you up close and personal to some of the legends of classical music. Pandit Ravi Shankar, Annapurna Devi, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Kishori Amonkar, Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Mallikarjun Mansur, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan and others.

Years ago, my friend Neeraj Priyadarshi, presently the Photo-editor of The Indian Express, had done a joint exhibition with Raghu Rai on flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. All the images were black and white and both had captured Panditji in different moods. Rai had clicked some pictures that were stunning for its candidness. The camera is lurking close to the subject, but the moments captured look so amazingly natural as if the camera is not present at all.

The book promises to have more of these. Many of these pictures appeared in India Today magazine in 1980s when Rai worked as Director of Photography for 10 years. Mallikarjun Mansur on his deathbed having a puff of a cigarette. Bhimsen Joshi in an introspective mood in his Merc. Kumar Gandharva chatting on his bed in Devas. Catch a glimpse of some of these pictures in this review in The Telegraph. Tehelka's April 10 issue on Vidarbha suicides also has pictures of Rai's book.

Impressed by his work at a show in Paris in 1971, Raghu Rai was invited to join the Magnum Collective by the legend himself - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kolhapur Kushti akharas

Miami-based Ami Vitale zipped through Maharashtra last month, and photographed the kushti or wrestling schools in Kolhapur. The traditional sport has been photographed before, but Ami has done the photo-story because red-clay wrestling is in its last lap.

"...The Indian Fighters Federation in the capital of New Delhi stunned thousands of fighters when it announced prohibition of fighting on red soil and ordered fight clubs to buy mattresses for their arenas. Ending the traditional red clay wrestling was an idea sprouted from the aspiration to achieve more Olympic medals since the last and only medal India brought home in wrestling was a bronze in 1952," she wrote in her 84-picture photo essay

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Iceland's volcano

Photo copyright: Whitehotpix/ZUMA press

National Geographic’s volcanologists and teams of experts must be tracking Iceland’s volcano which erupted and disrupted air travel across continents. And so would be hordes of journalists and photojournalists. What an assignment!

I wanted to see pix of the phenomenon and found two nice photo-galleries taking one closer to the volcano. Check how the volcanic eruption looks from NASA’s satellite cameras.

National Geographic has sourced pictures from the Icelandic Coast Guard. Some pictures of the Lightning at volcano And the plumes of volcanic ash shot by Arni Saeberg

Time magazine has put up a collection of pictures in The Eerie Beauty of Iceland’s Volcano

Monday, April 05, 2010

Faces of the Holocaust

Caption: German soldiers of the Waffen-SS and the Reich Labor Service look on as a member of an Einsatzgruppe prepares to shoot a Ukrainian Jew kneeling on the edge of a mass grave filled with corpses in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, USSR.
Photo Courtesy: United States Holocaust Memorial [Photograph #64407]

My friend Abhijit Bhatlekar from Mint sent me this link. Polish photographer Maciek Nabrdalik, who is part of the mentorship programme started by James Nachtwey's agency VII, decided that he needed to capture the faces of the survivors of the Holocaust before they fade away forever into history.

I think the concept and the pictures are brilliant. Do check Maciek Nabradik’s project Also read the reader comments on this New York Times photo blog, and tell me what you think of these pictures.