Raghubir Singh became interested in photography while still at
school and educated himself in photojournalism by poring over The
family of man – a seminal exhibition/publication by Edward
Steichen – and LIFE magazines at the New Delhi office
of Time-Life. He took the work and philosophy of Henri Cartier-Bresson
as a model, and greatly admired major past figures of documentary
photography in black and white – particularly Walker Evans
and Brassaï. Singh developed a reputation for his skill in
colour reportage and is best known for his 14 books on India, for
which he travelled extensively across the country.
Singh was a friend and admirer of the great Indian filmmaker Satyajit
Ray, who in turn paid tribute to Singh's vision as one in which
'everything from the most mundane to the most splendiferous, reveals
a mixture of wonder, admiration and probing curiosity'. This image
reflects Singh's gift for combining the 'decisive moment' tradition
of documentary with the formal complexity of composition in colour.
Singh's own blurred self-portrait can be seen reflected in a mirror.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010