Raghu Rai (b.1942, Jhang, Pakistan) is the most influential photographer in India. He qualified as a civil engineer and began photographing at the age of 23. He joined The Statesman newspaper as their chief photographer (1966-1976) and thereafter was the Picture Editor with Sunday, a weekly news magazine published from Calcutta (1977-1980). In 1971, impressed by Rai’s exhibition at Gallery Delpire in Paris, Henri Cartier-Bresson nominated Rai to Magnum Photos.
Rai took over as Picture Editor-Visualizer-Photographer at India Today between 1982-1991. He worked on special issues and designs, contributing trailblazing picture essays on social, political and cultural themes of the decade.
He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972 for his work on the liberation war of Bangladesh and its refugees. In 2009, he was conferred the Officier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. In 2018, he was honoured by Lucie Foundation, New York as Master of Photojournalism. In 2019, Rai was honoured as the laureate of the first edition of the Academie des Beaux Arts Photography Award - William Klein.
Raghu Rai’s photo essays have been published in the world’s leading magazines and newspapers since the late 1970s. He has authored 62 books, including Saint Teresa of Calcutta: A Celebration of Her Life and Legacy (2017), People: His Finest Portraits (2016), Picturing Time: The Greatest Photographs of Raghu Rai (2015), Bangladesh: The Price of Freedom (2013), Varanasi: A Portrait of a Civilisation (2011), Bombay — Mumbai: Where Dreams Don’t Die (2010), India’s Great Master — A Photographic Journey into the Heart of Classical Music (2010), Calcutta — Kolkata (2008), Raghu Rai’s India — Reflections in Black & White (2007), Raghu Rai’s India — Reflections in Colour (2008), Men, Mettle & Steel (1998), Tibet in Exile (1991, 2012), Raghu’s Delhi (1985, 1992), Calcutta (1989), Taj Mahal (1986), The Sikhs (1984, 2002), Mother Teresa — Faith and Compassion (1971, 1996) and Indira Gandhi (1971, 1985).
Rai’s exhibition history in India and abroad is exhaustive and his photographs are widely collected by public and private collectors. Solo exhibitions include A Journey of a Moment in Time, Palais de l’Institut de France, Paris (2019), Trees at PHOTOINK (2013), Foto Freo Festival, Perth (2011), Format Festival (2011), The Journey of a Moment in Time: Raghu Rai at National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi & Mumbai, 2008), Photographs: Raghu Rai at Casa Asia, Barcelona (2008) and Asiatica Film Mediale, Rome (2008), A Retrospective: Raghu Rai at Les Rencontres De La Photographie, Arles (2007), India at Museo Capitolini Centrale Montemartini, Rome (2005), Bhopal 1984-2004 at Melkweg Gallery, Amsterdam (2005), Exposure at Drik Gallery, Dhaka and at Leica Gallery, Prague (2004), and Solo Show at Sala Consiliare, Venice and at Photographic Gallery, Helsinki (2003), La India at Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City (1999) and A Retrospective: Raghu Rai at National Gallery of Modern Art (1997).
In 2012, Raghu Rai set up the Raghu Rai Center for Photography in Gurugram to share his knowledge and experience with younger photographers. He lives in New Delhi.