Raghu Rai (born in December 1942) qualified as a civil engineer, started photography at the age of 23 in 1965. He joined The Statesman newspaper as their chief photographer (1966 to 1976) and was then Picture Editor with Sunday—a weekly news magazine published from Calcutta (1977 to 1980).
After completing a Thomson fellowship in England, he worked with The Times, London for four weeks where he used to get three half pages every week with his byline and a job offer by the then picture editor Norman Hall but he preferred to return with his unfinished creative journey in the lanes and bylanes of his motherland.
In 1972, impressed by Rai’s exhibition at Gallery Delpire, Paris, the legendary photographer Henri Cartier Bresson nominated him to Magnum Photos, the world’s most prestigious photographer’s cooperative which Rai could start only in 1977, he continues to be a part of this legendry institute.
Rai took over as Picture Editor-Visualiser-Photographer of India Today, India’s leading news magazine, contributing trailblazing picture essays from 1982-1991. His series on Great Masters Of Indian Classical Music, Satyajit Ray, Mother Teresa, had become a talking point of the magazine.
He was awarded the ‘Padmashree’ in 1972, a civilian award is ever given to a photographer for the body of works he produced on Bangladesh refugees and the war. In 1992 he was awarded “Photographer of the Year” in the United States for the story “Human Management of Wildlife in India” published in National Geographic. In 2009 he was conferred Officer des Arts et des Letters by French Government and Lifetime achievement award in 2016 in India. Recently, in 2018, he has been honored by the Lucie Foundation, New York as Master of Photojournalism.
His photo essays have appeared in many of the world’s leading magazines and newspapers – including Time, Life, GEO, Le Figaro, Le Monde, Die Welt, The New York Times, The Sunday Times-London, Newsweek, Vogue, GQ, D magazine, Marie Claire, The Independent, and the New Yorker. He has been an adjudicator for World Press Photo Contest, Amsterdam, and UNESCO’s International Photo Contest many times.
He has done extensive documentation of 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy and its continuing effects on the lives of gas victims under a special assignment from Greenpeace International, compiled into a book and 3 sets of exhibitions traveling in Europe, American, and South East Asia from 2002 -2005 brought relief to the many survivors of the tragedy.
A special exhibition and picture book were created in India and Mexico in the year 2002 by the top three photographers Graciela Iturbide (Mexico) and Sebastiao Salgado (France) and Raghu Rai (India). His works have been published in major books done by Magnum Photos including Exhibitions.
In 2012, Raghu Rai has created the Raghu Rai Center for Photography to share his 50 years of knowledge and experience with the young generations.
Mr. Rai is the only photographer in the world to get the ‘ Academie Des Beaux Art’ Paris Awards 2019 – one of the highest awards in photography, ever given to a living photographer.
Raghu Rai lives in New Delhi with his family and is currently working on his 57th publication.