“Why does photography always have to be about something specific? Isn’t the language capable of transcending the subject and focusing on something bigger than itself?” – Prabuddha Dasgupta
Prabuddha Dasgupta, 55, left us yesterday after he suffered a heart attack on an assignment in Mumbai. He was a photographer who had carved himself a special niche not only amongst the photography fraternity but also in the fashion industry around the world over the period of his career of nearly three decades.
Prabuddha Dasupta was the recipient of the Yves Saint Laurent grant for photography in 1991 and was particularly famous for breaking social taboos that existed in India with his book ‘Women’ published in 1996. The book was a daring collection of portraits and nudes of women in urban India at a time when such artwork was frowned upon by the masses. His later books included ‘Ladakh’ (2000) and ‘Edge of Faith’ (2009). Prabuddha’s work has been showcased at numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world.
His project for Vogue with muse Lakshmi Menon in 2008 gathered much acclaim in the fashion industry. Malaika Arora, Padma Lakshmi, Lara Dutta and Neha Dhupia are some of the names that have been featured in his work.
Portals from all over the world are flooded with messages from some of the renowned figures from the industry.
Prabuddha Das Gupta’s Books:
- Women: Penguin India, 1996
- Ladakh: Penguin India, 2000
- Work: Bodhi Art, 2006 (catalogue)
- Longing: Bodhi Art, 2007 (catalogue)
- Edge of Faith: Seagull Books 2009
- Longing: An ongoing journal of memory and experience, based on the everyday… family, friendships, places known, spaces occupied, journeys remembered…revolving around the core of a pivotal love affair.
- Edge of faith: A project of 79 outstanding photographs documenting and protraying the lives of Catholic community in Goa, in a way rarely seen before.
- Ladakh: A collection of pictures depicting the silent and subtle life of people of Ladakh. The series connects to the lives of the people there and their unique lifestyles, on the edge of the earth.
- Urban Women: Urban Indian women, captured in Prabuddha’s lens, talking of the stories and expressions never depicted before.
© Prabuddha Dasgupta, From ‘Edge of Faith’
- On his series ‘Longing’:
An impressionistic and intimate visual journal of memory and experience based on the everyday… family, friendships, places known, spaces occupied, journeys remembered, and romantic encounters. Seen, not in the context of specific time and place, but through the very personal, unfixed gaze of memory. Exploring issues of identity, gender, sexuality and relationships, in the background of a complex, multi-layered, conservative society in the throes of radical change.
- “Photography, for me, is not about itself. It’s about everything else. It’s about who we are, our experiences, our influences, our connections with people, with things, with music, with family, with life, with everything. I like the idea that my life can be not just one thing, but it can be many things.”
© Prabuddha Dasgupta, From ‘Longing’
Condolences from Indian Photographers:
Loss of Prabuddha is indeed something that is very hard to accept. I feel so screwed at the moment and unable to make any comments over it. Prabuddha was someone who meant a lot to many people- As a friend, as a photographer and above all, as a beautiful person. There are some people in life who are beyond any definition or relationship. Prabuddha was one of them.
There was still a lot more in him to give to us, to the world; not just as a photographer, but as a person too. His demise is personal, In fact more than personal to me, to everyone who loved and admired him.
Peace, prayers and blessings.
My first memory of Prabudhha was in 1991,I had freshly arrived into Delhi, as some of us would know advertising & fashion photography was a very different world in those times, and I needed some idea on where to start specially coming from the west. And he was the man I got introduced by a common friend the late designer Rohit Kholsa. I landed up at Prabuddha & Tanya’ and their little girl Aleeya’ barsaati in Nizamuddin, and his call bell from the ground level was this long rope attached to a temple bell on his floor, I knew it then he was not the conventional photographer I was going to meet.
He was heading to Paris on an YSL residency and he wanted me to meet some of the hot Agencies like Contract in those days in Delhi. And yes also warned me about at times not getting paid ..lol…
We met over the years..spoke & shared our works with each other. One thing was clear, in creative biz we all suffer the insecurities at some or other level but what I liked about Parabuddha was he was always the first one to introduce talent even if it took away his part of the biz and that was just remarkable about the man. He lived a life of what he did.. photographed ..spoke and believed in. He inspired a whole generation of photographers and for sure was the pioneer in field of Fashion photography in India, rest only followed! I still can’t believe that he is gone from our lives. We will miss him forever!
My earliest memories with Mr. Prabuddha date back to 1990s. I have interacted with him several times on various projects. Penning down my sentiments over this is difficult. He went away a bit too soon. He had many years of photography left..Had he been with us, he would have inspired many photographers as he has done in the past. However one can confidently say that his indeed was a life well-lived.
“Unable to recount any one of them in particular as there are many memories of mine with Prabudha Das Gupta. A friend, an inspiring photographer, a humble person, a trend setter and above all, a free soul. Prabudha was indeed a legend at work. His creative longings, style of photography, genre and vision always remained ‘Timeless’ He was one of those photographers who have always set their own standards and ways, high and unique among others. He never bothered of the standard practice of the industry therefore not followed any presets in photography. Rather, setting his very own simple but impact full style of shooting, He has pioneered his style in photography and of course inspired many.
Lately I met him, about few months back in Delhi. What an experience it was ,talking to a man of ideas. We had a long chat about the status of photography in the digital world, also the idea of shifting from stills to filming. He was quite keen to see my new venture, the documentary film I did recently . I wish if he could see.
I must say that the man lived his life very fast.
My deepest condolences to all those who loved him. May the kind soul rest in peace.”
The entire photographic community is in a state of shock – the loss of Prabuddha Dasgupta is immeasurable.
I didn’t know him well enough but I do remember his warmth, his casual languor and his boyish smile.
The last set of images that I saw from him affected me, he bared his soul and I was looking forward to more..
The last set of images that I saw from him affected me, he bared his soul and I was looking forward to more… Thank you for the inspiration.
The sad demise of Mr Prabudha is indeed a great loss to the photography fraternity. Though I did not know him personally, but the legend is known for his one-off work and as someone who admires his efforts, I really feel this to be tragic loss.
May god bless his family members and loved ones and let his soul rest in peace.
Team Emaho thanks everyone who shared their words and experiences with us on this sad note.
To live in the hearts that we leave behind is not to die. Team Emaho offers its condolences. The world has lost a very talented man.
Web links: Prabuddha Dasgupta’s website
Photographs by - Prabuddha Dasgupta
Video credits: Delhi Photo Festival
Written by – Marukh Budhraja
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