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When Iqbal Mohamed realized that he wanted to take great pictures and photography was his calling in life, he also realized that there was no formal educational institution in India where he could go and learn. He had to go to Brooks Institute, California, the USA to pursue his dream. Being amongst the first few to go abroad to study photography Iqbal was also the first to come back from Brooks and become one of India’s leading names in the professional photography sector. After about a decade of practice, while in Mumbai, Iqbal realized that not much had changed to make quality photography education available to the increasing numbers of aspirants.

With a desire to bridge this gap, in 2001, Iqbal Mohamed teamed up with his wife Anuradha and established Light & Life Academy. A first and to this date, the only one of its kind professional photography institute in the country, LLA is a blend of India and the West, where exclusive, international standard photography is delivered with a Gurukul like approach.

Replicating Classroom Learning on a Digital Platform

Light & Life Academy has come up with LLA Online, an online platform which was launched with its first course ­’Get Creative with Photography’. A 10-week long course, it covers every fundamental of photography. Designed on the concept of a structured learning program, LLA Online is a platform where each course is presented as a series of learning modules, delivered in a progressive order, ensuring that each module is understood thoroughly before moving on to the next.

“I believe that everyone who wants to take up photography should have a very comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals. Once the fundamentals are understood, you can really explore your creativity. With LLA Online, we have tried to take our learning from over 19 years of experience of teaching photography at Light & Life Academy, and replicate the methodology of teaching, as much as possible, and bring it online,” speaks Iqbal Mohamed.

The courses offered by LLA Online have numerous unique features. It allows a comfortable time frame to make for meaningful learning; it is available in over nine Indian Languages as well as English; emphasis is laid on practical learning; the students are given proper feedback by an exclusive team of alumni, who are practicing professional photographers; Encouraging Peer to Peer Learning, every online photography course participant is a part of a forum and has the opportunity of reviewing the work of other participants in the forum, a major part of online photography learning will happen through these forum interactions, making it wonderfully motivating for the aspirants.

A Blend of Modern and Contemporary

LLA is the only exclusive full facility photography institute in India, and probably the world! With 14 studios generously equipped with lights, light modifying accessories and grip equipment, a custom-designed automobile studio, a state of the art auditorium, the students are encouraged to explore as many specializations of photography as possible. Apart from the infrastructure, it is tactically situated in the Nilgiris, a location that took close to 3 years to finalize on. “We chose Ooty, and the Nilgiris because I feel that it is one of the best places to learn about Light. After all, photography is about understanding light and all its intricacies. Perched on a mountain, overlooking the second largest inhabited valley in the world, LLA experiences all four seasons in a day sometimes! It is truly inspiring, for anyone who is visually inclined, and the students absolutely love the location,” mentions Iqbal.

Today, after 19 years of teaching Photography, LLA has gained a reputation for producing world-class photographers. Iqbal says, “At LLA, we strongly believe in the methods of Modern Gurukul. We work in small groups and maintain a very unique level of interaction with every student, helping each one of them within their learning curve. Besides, as the name suggests, we believe that in order to fully understand photography, one should understand not just light but life too. Thus, even as the students learn photography, we help them cultivate a better understanding of life. There is no rigid right or wrong at LLA, it is the process of learning and taking fruitful steps towards reaching the end goal.”

With changes in technology happening at a fast pace and trends constantly evolving, Light & Life Academy keeps pace with the times by constantly tweaking the curriculum to remain relevant, without compromising on its core values. LLA has more than 500 alumni who are all over India and the world, practicing photography professionally. Iqbal adds, “All our alumni are doing well in the industry and I can safely say that they have really raised the benchmark of photography in our country. They often visit the campus and tell us about their awards and achievements. It is really a great feeling to see your students go out there and do great things! We always love to have them back on campus, to share their stories with us and the current batch of students. Singling out one or a few alumni is very difficult, but together, the alumni of LLA have certainly created a positive change with regard to photography.”

What started off as a vision to help bring high-quality photography education to India, through Light & Life Academy has grown to help build a space for every photography enthusiast to learn and explore photography with LLA Online. Iqbal believes that it is imperative that the photography community, both professional and hobbyists come together to exchange thoughts, ideas and experiences and hence, have sought to build a Light & Life Community, through LLA and LLA Online, in order to bring the LLA family closer together. “We believe that each student should get the attention he/she needs in order to learn photography. We do not believe in failing any student, but working with students, till they understand each concept right before we move onto the next one!” signs off Iqbal.

Iqbal Mohamed, Founder Director

Iqbal Mohamed can be a Photographer, Educationalist and Philosopher at the same time. Iqbal Mohamed inspires students with his knowledge and vision, while keeping them in splits with his sense of humor. He completed his education from Brooks Institute of Photography. He is currently the Director of academics at Light & Life Academy for the past 18 years.

Article publised in Higher Education Review.

Light and Life Academy has announced an online photography course in nine languages. The course will be available in Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Bengali, Odiya, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil and English. Their objective is to reach out to aspiring photographers from around the country. The course aims to replicate classroom learning on a digital platform, as closely as possible.

“The amazing thing is that each student has an individual vision,” says founder Iqbal Mohamed . “We have made efforts to nurture this individual way of seeing, teaching photography conceptually. We thought it was time to reach out to a lot more talented souls, replicating the way of learning, online.”

According to their website LLA Online will use a “structured learning program” to help students explore their creative side. Each course will be presented as a sequence of modules. They will be delivered in a progressive order to guarantee that each module has been understood by the students before moving to the next one.

Light and Life Academy is a not-for-profit education trust. It was started by Anuradha Iqbal and Iqbal Mohamed in 2001, with the initial support of Kodak India & Eastman Kodak, USA.

View the article in Better Photography

A premier professional photography institute – Light & Life Academy recently launched India’s first online photography programme. Located in Ooty, the academy has been providing professional training in photography for about two decades. LLAOnline aims at providing a digital platform for photography enthusiasts.

The programme named ‘Get Creative with Photography’ is a 10-module course, backed by real-life assignmnets that are evaluated in real time by real-life mentors. Available in nine different languages, the course also guarantees the learning by not allowing the participants to progress to the next module before they have completed the assignments related to the previous module.

The programme has been designed in a  structured, easy-to-understand manner and is available in Bengali, Gujarathi, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu besides English.

The founder of Light & Life Academy, Iqbal Mohamed is a passionate photographer and a mentor. He started this programme with a pursuit to reach out to serious hobby photographers across the country, looking ofr a simpler, easier and affordable way to hone their photography sills and deepen their creativity. The launch of LLAOnline was a grand event and it witnessed some of India’s accomplished artists like Padma bhushan Dhananjayans, Bombay Jayashri, Keshav V, Anil Srinivasan and Iqbal Mohamed.

It is 6 am, and I watch Iqbal Mohamed quietly set up his camera in front of the big glass windows in his living room and wait for the sun to rise. We are at the Light and Life Academy (LLA) in Lovedale in the Nilgiris, and I learn that he does this every morning. “No two sunrise is the same,” he offers by way of explanation. Mohamed doesn’t say very much. He prefers to let his photographs do the talking, laughs his more vocal wife Anuradha.

The photographer founded LLA in 2001 as a full-facility photography institute. The inspiration was his alma mater, the Brooks Institute California. He worked in Hollywood with some of the biggest names in photography, and in India, winning considerable acclaim, before setting up his school. LLA, which maintains high standards of professionalism and excellence, has added immensely to the pool of talented photographers in the country. And the alumni have now helped him realise another dream — to set up an online course called ‘Get Creative with Photography’.

Seamless lessons

They want to reach out to more people who take pictures as a serious hobby, says Anuradha. “But we did not want it to become just another random photography course. Mohamed’s book, Portrait & Function Photography, in eight Indian languages, was enthusiastically received, and that made us think of an online programme that was serious, structured and professional,” she adds. LLA online was born after three long years of hard work. The programme is available in English and nine Indian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya and Bengali). “Prahlad Kakar advised us on how to create the video tutorials, all shot in campus, and make them not just informative, but also entertaining,” she says.

I click on the online programme to see how it looks, and the screen fills up with a haunting photograph of trees. Even to my unprofessional eye it is a stunning image. It is one of Mohamed’s photographs.

Nattily dressed LLA alumni present the lessons. Each one is an acclaimed photographer, says Anuradha, with considerable pride. “Without them, this course would not have been possible.” These include Shaheen Thaha (celebrity, fashion and architecture), Mihir Hardikar (food and beverages), Ajit SN (automobile and underwater), Punya Arora (editorial and underwater fashion), Satish Kumar (automobile) and Ankit Gupta (architecture and travel).

Getting into the details

The online tutorial begins with clear, concise and simply-worded instructions. Then comes the fun part. I ask Anuradha if can see/hear the lesson in Bengali. I follow it up with a class in Tamil, Hindi and Kannada! The dubbing is perfect and as someone who has only taken pictures on her mobile phone, even I can understand everything. ‘Getting Ready & Exposure’ is the first lesson, followed by ‘Shutter’, and two sessions each on ‘Lenses and Apertures’, four sessions on ‘Light’, a lesson on ‘Colour’, and finally one on ‘Composition’.

Each of the modules explains the concepts and is supported by images. At the end of each class, an assignment is given that the students have to complete and upload in a week. Their homework is critiqued by mentors and peers, and only then can they proceed to the next class. If required, they are allowed to re-shoot. “This way they share ideas and learn from each others’ mistakes,” explains Anuradha, who emphasises that a strict protocol and system is followed and those signing up for the course have to be committed. There is no skipping lessons.

Offline vs online

Online students have access to more than 500 stunning photographs by over 90 LLA alumni to give them an idea of what they can do with their cameras. Mohamed oversees their work and comments when necessary. The first set of students have already completed two assignments and the results have been promising, says Anuradha. Once they get feedback, they will launch other programmes, she adds.

Prahalad Muralidharan, CEO of LLA Online, explains that it was challenging to replicate the successful methods of their full-time courses on to the online platform. “After brainstorming and countless revisions, we finally found a way to do it. With peer-group interaction, an online forum and professional feedback, LLA Online is as close as it gets to LLA in terms of learning on an online platform!” he says.

The course includes 10 sessions over 10 weeks. The fee is ₹10,000. The full time courses at LLA can go up to ₹6,65,000. Details: or call: 97511-51999

View in Hindu Metro Plus

Light and Life Academy has launched ‘LLAONLINE’, an online photography programme, in nine Indian languages and English, to cater to the needs of shutterbugs from across the country.

According to a release, the course will be available in Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Odiya, Tamil, Telugu and English. The programe follows a pedagogy that seeks to replicate classroom learning on the digital platform as closely as possible.

As a part of LLAONLINE, a ‘Get creative with photography’ course, designed by Iqbal Mohamed, will have 10 sessions spread across 10 weeks. The first batch starts on December 18 and a new batch will begin every Monday after that. For further details and enrolments, log on to

More Info:

The Hindu:  Online photography programme in nine Indian languages

The New Indian Express: India’s largest photography institute now open online

The Launch of LLA Online took place in Chennai on the 30th of November 2017, marking a landmark in photography education in the country. The event focused on the celebration of art and how art is indeed an elixir of life.

The event was graced by five artists: Padma Bhushan Dhananjayans, Oscar nominee Smt. Bombay Jayashri, renowned painter and cartoonist  Shri. Keshav V and innovative musician Shri. Anil Srinivasan. These amazing artists have transcended all barriers and revolutionized their art forms, thereby inspiring millions of people around India and the world.

The event started off with a short audio-visual presentation giving a sneak peak into the way each of these artists connect with their art. This was followed by a panel discussion during which the artists spoke about what their art means to them and how it is the most integral part of their lives. This was followed by a discussion on why art is extremely relevant in today’s world and how it elevates life. Art is in everyone. Some people practice it while some consume it intimately, making it extremely important.

The cross-section of audience that attended the show, from students of art to professionals from various fields, to veterans, spanning age groups, were all happy to have been part of an event of this kind, where they could get an insight to the artist behind the art, a novel experience.

The panel discussion was followed by the launch of LLA Online. India’s first Online Photography program in 9 Indian Languages + English. Photography is one of the newest and most popularly practiced art forms, making it easier for people to express themselves through art. Keeping in mind the importance of celebrating art, LLA Online seeks to spread photography education across India, helping the country express its culture and life through art.

Shri Vannadil Pudiyaveettil Dhananjayan explains in this short video the eloquent paradigm of dance in its evolution through civilisation as an expressive language.

Shri Anil Srinivasan says that the seeds sown in his early years inculcated in him the belief that art is a responsibility to be treated with reverence.

Shri Keshav V describes how his art attempts to express every living being’s search for extended happiness – that this is art’s primary purpose.

Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath talks about how a singer introduces not just her song but herself- and a certain freshness and identity- into her art.

Through exquisite facial expressions and elegant mudras, Smt. Shanta Dhananjayan shows how nature itself inspires dance. A beautiful universal truth!