Every Mentor of the LLA Online program has graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Professional Photography from Light and Life Academy, having undergone incredibly rigorous training. They are currently practicing their art across India and come from varied backgrounds & cultures, wielding a treasure of aesthetic sensibilities. There will be consistency in terms of feedback given since everyone graduated from the same technical and artistic training at LLA.
Ajit S.N worked for a Multinational Retail company. Even though he loved his job, his interest in rigs, gadgets and the numerous posters of cars and bikes in his room since childhood, drew him towards photography. After much research, he decided to join LLA.
Everything was sudden for Ajit: like his decision to move away from the corporate world to making a career in professional photographer. Spontaneity governed his actions. When he first went diving he got so excited that without having an idea about diving, he spent a substantial amount on underwater photography equipment and gave it a try. Now, he is a certified diver, travelling around the world capturing a gamut of underwater life. He plans on hosting an exhibition, showcasing his vast collection of Underwater pictures, soon.
When he surfaces he enjoys taking pictures of automobiles and lifestyle products.
Ajit is an integral part of the LLA Family. His passion for photography was honed at LLA. Helping an amateur know right from wrong with regard to photography and spreading photography education is something that he has a vested interest in. He also sees the LLA Online platform as one that involves a “give” and “take” from mentors and students alike. For him, learning from students is as important as students learning from him.
Akshay is a photographer based out of New Delhi, India. After spending close to five years with Corporate Inc., across management consulting, marketing and advertising, Akshay shifted gears in 2015 to a year-long programme in photography at the Light & Life Academy.
Commercially, he partners with brands in the lifestyle space, across fashion, architecture + interior, luxury still life and more. Personally, he loves collecting representations of fleeting moments, fine design, architectural structures and the lure of the cosmos.
Akshay is a keen observer of geo-political events, breakthroughs in science and technology, and human rights and individual freedoms. He also deeply influenced by independent music and art, psychology, philosophy and the natural world.
Being part of LLA Online as a mentor, Akshay is able to contribute to his life-long passion for sharing knowledge. He looks forward to facilitating budding photographers’ exploration of the art form as a medium of equal expression and inquiry.
Coming from a family of people who multi-tasked their passions with their regular jobs, Akshaya was not short of inspiration. Her father an HR professional is a passionate actor as well! Quick to realise that acting made her father the happiest, Akshaya decided to take a leaf from his book and pursue her interests in creative fields like cinematography and photography. She completed her under graduation studies in Electronic media. She was never a book worm and loved Do-It-Yourself tasks. She was introduced to photography in her second year of college and has never looked back. Initially a fan of cinematography, her fascination with freezing crucial moments in people that captures raw feelings is something that drove her to do photography and pursue it full-time. For Akshaya, photography was not just a hobby. She wanted to become a professional photographer.
After completing her post-graduation in professional photography at LLA, she now practises her art in Chennai, focusing mainly on Fashion and Food Photography. Through her Fashion photography, she tries to communicate certain messages and stories that connect with people more. Her love for food and food styling draws her to Food Photography.
Akshaya says that Photography gave her a new life, a new outlet, where every day is filled with excitement. Never once has she woken up and said “Oh God! I have to go to work today”. Her motivation for joining LLA Online is simple, she wants to share the art form that changed her world with as many people as possible.
Ankit Gupta grew up in Delhi. A big fan of cricket, he played the sport every chance he got, apart from enjoying his fair share of Table Tennis and Badminton. Like everyone around him at the time, Ankit had one of two paths to take after school, either becoming an engineer or a doctor. Ankit chose the former and completed his under graduation in engineering. He was placed in Infosys straight from college and shifted base to Mysore. His mother gifted him a DSLR just before he left for Mysore. This was the beginning for Ankit. He worked at Infosys for 4 years with the ambition of completing his MBA abroad.
All of this changed when Ankit had a conversation with the owner of the house he was staying at in Mysore. She was an elderly lady who lived alone, with her children all abroad. Since Ankit was soon to follow the same path, he wanted to know how often her children came back to visit. When she said the last time they visited was five years ago, Ankit’s plan completely changed and he decided to stay in India and stay close to his family. He quit Infosys and went back to Delhi. Realising that joining his father’s business was not an option, he quickly turned to photography. The constant encouragement from his friends and family about the quality of his photographs boosted his confidence. He recollects one morning distinctly, when he was in a valley, surrounded by mountains in Kashmir, where he realised his passion for photography, because all he could think about was capturing that moment, and saving it for eternity.
After little deliberation, with bags packed, he came to LLA and completed his Post Graduation in professional photography, specialising in Travel, Nature, Architecture and Interior photography.
Giving back to society is high up on Ankit’s agenda. Through LLA Online, he has a platform to share his knowledge of photography with people who are passionate about it.
Arnab’s first inspiration to take up photography was his father, a photographer himself. At an early age, Arnab watched his father experimenting with various equipment and over time establishing a lab in Jamshedpur, that was the hub for printing exhibition images. It was here Arnab had the opportunity to meet the who’s who of photography!
Arnab started taking pictures from the 3rd Standard and became the designated photographer for all the family functions.
Arnab joined the BA science from Ferguson college, Pune, specialising in Mass communication and Physics, as this was one of the few courses that offered photography as an area of study. This was the turning point where his fascination with photography grew into a passion and one that he decided to pursue whole-heartedly.
Arnab joined Light & Life Academy and completed his Post Graduation Diploma in Professional Photography in 2003. He mainly covers product, automobile and portrait photography. He has been a faculty at LLA since 2008. He also invests a lot of his time in personal projects that help him constantly evolve and grow as a photographer. Some of them include a shoot for South African Tourism, a visual representation of the Kumbh Mela, Holi celebrations at Mathura and Pushkar festivals.
Arnab believes that more people should learn and appreciate photography as an art form. This is crucial for photography itself to grow in the country. He believes that LLA Online will achieve this, especially since it is in different languages. Arnab wants to be a part of spreading photography education throughout India and hence is a mentor at LLA Online.
Garima’s interest in the arts began in the 8th Standard. Since then she religiously researched courses and colleges related to fine art in India. After her 12thstandard exams, she took the path of civil services and studied history. She did well but she felt something lacking. She wasn’t happy with just good marks. She wanted something more. She then, without the knowledge of her parents, applied and got selected in an arts course. After convincing her parents, she joined the course where she was first introduced to Photography. With a Vivitar in hand, her journey as a photographer began.
She worked as a visualiser and pursued her Post graduation in Digital Media, specialising in Animation. Constantly battling with her parents, she finally convinced them that her passion for arts will also result in a career that makes her happy and financially stable as well.
After impressing her husband with her creative and photography skills, she was gifted a DSLR! She then applied to LLA and completed her Post graduation in Professional photography.
Garima rode the E-commerce wave back in 2011, taking up photography assignments for various e-commerce sites and excelling in it. She opened her first studio in 2011 and did a lot of freelance work, fusing her knowledge of applied art and photography resulting in a unique style of her own. She is now based in Bangalore and is an art director, graphic designer, painter, photographer and blogger.
Garima strongly believes that Photography is an art form for the masses. LLA Online’s effort in reaching out to the masses through many different languages is what intrigued her the most! She is as excited as us about LLA Online!
Coming from an influential and well to do family in Tirupur, Kavita breezed through school with a handsome amount of pocket money every week. Early on, she realised that she was extremely passionate about one thing- Chocolates. This has been her most longstanding passion. Till date, Kavita can eat a whole bar of chocolates in seconds, while simultaneously looking for the next piece of chocolate. In school, she paid attention and did well only in the subjects she likes – Physics, Zoology and Botany, with an aim of becoming a Doctor. One week into her doctorate programme in college, she decided that she couldn’t complete the course and quit. She then tried to apply for a B. Com course but it was too late and all the colleges had completed their admission procedure. Kavita says that looking back now, this was a blessing in disguise. After little choice, she joined the visual communication course at the Maharaja college, Perundurai. Armed with a Pentax K 100, a dark room and the freedom to explore the nooks and corners of her mind, Kavita realized the power of photography. In this college with over 1500 people, the six Visual communication students were sought after the most. After all, who doesn’t want a good picture of themselves? Photography lightened up all her senses, says Kavita. While taking pictures, she could empathise with the dog’s pain, feel the breeze brush against her and was awestruck by the colours of the flowers and the sky. The world around her transformed into a vastness of unlimited beauty, the pieces began to fall into place and finally, the world started to make sense, through photography., Kavita knew then, that she was going to be a photographer the rest of her life.
She studied in LLA back in 2002, where she was convinced that every day was a revelation. Even after the course, she always knew that she needed to grow as a photographer every time she looked at the work of another professional photographer. She came to understand that she will be a student for life, striving to quench her constant thirst for knowledge and her need to evolve as a photographer. She now works full-time at Light & Life Academy, monitoring the academic standards in college, while also chasing the light as she captures people, places and memories in Ooty. She continues to learn every day from the students while simultaneously imparting her in-depth knowledge of the subject. The excitement of meeting new creative minds looking to explore the depths of photography gives her immense satisfaction. LLAOnline, she says, is particularly dear to her because it will be available in nine different Indian languages, which will help a number of aspiring photographers get inspired to learn photography
Taking a walk down memory lane, I feel very happy that my Dad had the courage to leave his childhood comfort zone of Calcutta and move to Chennai, to set up his own business. Which meant I had the best of two worlds, a deep rooted grounding in the North Indian customs and at the same time a wonderful connect with all things Tamil: the people, the food, the culture and the place itself. Variety as they say is the spice of life.
At school, I was a part of a range of activities from dancing, theatre, debating and though I was bad at singing, I even made it to the school choir. But being the top of my class in studies was my priority. Everything changed when the results for the 10th standard exams were announced and I managed only to come 5th in the school.
My confidence was shaken. It was a time of reckoning. I decided to take it easy the next two years. I delved into what I really enjoyed, dancing, the icing was when I began to win prizes and get recognised as a dancer. Bharathnatyam, Kathak and Ghooomar were all dance forms I really enjoyed learning. Then I added Jive, Salsa and Bhachatha. Life just kept getting better. I realised academics was never my scene. I decided to take up visual communication and that’s where I discovered photography and my life took a new turn. Photography gave me the opportunity to connect with a whole new world. From the most sophisticated to the down to earth, from all things natural to man-made. The sheer variety was intoxicating. That’s when Light & Life Academy beckoned. I enjoyed every moment of my time there.
Today, I still chase variety. While my profession is photography, I still find time to dance and teach dancing. In time I hope to explore cinematography and get back to doing some theatre.
And now I have this wonderful opportunity to share my knowledge of photography with others and help them unmask their creative potential with LLAONLINE. My cup of happiness brims.
If I could have had my way, I would have pursued shoe design, because I used to spend hours sitting on my cousin’s computer researching on how to be a shoe designer and get a job at Nike. Some of my school friends’ parents still joke about the fact that I had told them I want to be a shoe designer, which for them was like being a cobbler!
Through my 12th Standard, I realised I enjoyed making plant and frog biology drawings more than solving derivatives and parabola math problems so I chose commercial art and joined JJ School of Art, Mumbai just so I could draw to my heart’s content. Inspired every day by my seniors, getting exposed to different fields of advertising like animation, illustrations, exhibition display, photography etc, I realised I was keener on the execution aspect of advertising rather than the ideation.
LLA was a revelation. Unlearning and learning at the same time. I tried my hand at whatever assignments came to me. I also started cooking more often, experimenting with the colors, textures, and freshness of ingredients. Over time I realised I enjoy food and beverage photography more than other areas of photography.
I am slowly trying food related personal projects through local travel. I feel projects like these utilise my interests and knowledge of landscapes, portraits, still life and food photography.
A lot of times, artists can face difficulties in language and communication. The LLA Online programme in regional languages will be a big help in reaching out to such people. I am really happy to be a part of this project.
The problem with words is that when everyone starts speaking, there’s really no one left to listen. And I began to miss the ‘pause’. The pause that lets you to observe. Lets you think. Let’s you share. Let’s you communicate. This pause is what defines me in my new avatar – a photographer. A self-confessed foodie and voyeuristic people observer, I am a writer, a photographer and a musafir.
For 15 years, I expressed life with words. Sometimes as a media person. Other times as a communication specialist. While that should have been enough, it wasn’t.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. And this quest of mine has made me appreciate imperfection, taught me how to feel with my eyes, discover hidden beauty and freeze moments in time.
Thanks to the nomad in me, I shall be taking life beyond faces and places and do what I have always yearned for, portray life — in real, raw and recent form.
What I imbibed at Light & Life Academy is an experience that will stay with me for life. And I don’t want the challenge, the excitement, the accomplishment and the journey to end with me.
I want my association with LLA online to be a starting point, of cerebrating ideas, conceiving concepts and inspiring conversations around the various realms of photography.
Light & Life is not just an academy. It’s a discipline. Here, you turn in to a curious spectator witnessing and learning the endless magic of light and shadow. Needless to say, it’s yet another proud opportunity to be associated with the academy that made me who I am.
So, join me as you find your purpose and live your passion.
Punya Arora is a Punjabi by nature but South-Indian at heart, a professional photographer, a self-proclaimed Biriyani connoisseur and one of the very few female stand-up comedians in the country.
Her style of comedy reflects on everyday life, encasing some amazingly funny moments and situations and a couple of accents.
Her style of photography includes taking pictures of people, both on land and underwater. Other than portraits and fashion, she also photographs spaces, food and weddings. A constant spreader of happiness and sunshine is a great way to sum it all up.
Being a part of LLA online, Punya achieves something that is integral to her, giving back to the world and help spread her passion for photography. Punya strongly believes that teaching is the greatest form of learning and LLAOnline is a catalyst for the dissemination of photography knowledge.
I had no intention of doing Engineering or Medicine, the norm for a person from a middle class South Indian family. I just had one ambition, to study Psychology at PSG Arts & Science College, Coimbatore. In my 2nd year at college, the course VISCOM was introduced in college. Interacting with Viscom students, I realized that my calling was to ENTERTAIN people . I joined Radio Mirchi as an RJ. In no time, I became very popular. Seven years later I felt the urge to do something different and decided to explore my passion for photography.
Instead of entertaining people through things that I heard of, now I felt, I can entertain them with what I see.
I decided to venture into the world of photography. I chose to study at Light & Life Academy, learning all aspects and techniques of photography to make my dream of becoming a professional photographer come true! It was amazing how LLA encouraged and taught me that age is not a constraint to gain knowledge. I am blessed with the input, knowledge and encouragement LLA gave me, making me what I am today.
Now I am pursuing my dream of being an architecture, fashion, automobile and travel photographer. LLA Online gives me the opportunity to share what I have learnt with other photographers.
Sathish Kumar Raju
Sathish grew up in a family of photographers from different generations. His great grandfather opened and managed a small studio called Omni Photo studio in Pondicherry, in 1904. His first, most striking memory of photography was observing his father making Large sized prints at home. These prints, he recollects, were made in the night on the terrace or in the space in the centre of the house called Mutram. He can still visualise his grandmother mixing the hypo and immersing his hand in it just to experience the coldness of the liquid. His first print was a life size one of the portrait of a person. As the image slowly revealed itself, it was like magic and his father was the magician. Sathish was hooked to photography ever since.
It was a no-brainer when Sathish opted for BSc in Visual Communication from Loyola College, Chennai and then following his natural urge to pursue his passion for Photography. He chose to be nurtured under the wings of Iqbal Mohamed, while at the same time working for two years at LLA. During this time, he understood the importance of studying Photography formally and decided to join the course in 2006. After the course, he continued to assist Iqbal on his various shoots. Satish learnt a lot from his keen observations during this time. He learnt, not only about photography, but about different cultures, food, lifestyles, people. This helped shape his current status as one of the best automobile photographers in India.
He is also a faculty at the full time course at Light & Life Academy.
For Sathish, an insatiable thirst to give back to society and encourage more people to take up photography, both professionally and as a hobby drives him to become a mentor at LLA Online. According to him, even though photography knowledge is readily available online, feedback from professionals, a crucial aspect in the learning process, is missing. Sathish aims to help fill this gap with LLA Online.
I am fortunate to have a father who is a professional photographer. Thus at the age of 4 I was given a camera and I started taking pictures. I have never stopped since. When it came to college, studying engineering was the order of the day and so I too became a part of this crowd. The most exciting things I did while studying engineering were tinkering with a lot of cars, driving around and driving people mad. My other passion was music. Science began to kill me so I convinced my father to let me live moving towards a creative field. I did a 3 year degree in advertising and designing at the Wigan and Leigh college. It was during this time that my passion for photography grew and led me to Light & Life Academy. I have no words to explain what LLA means to me. My whole perspective towards photography changed because of LLA.
I love doing every kind of photography. Today, I am mostly into fashion photography, architecture & interior photography and movie promos. What I am really looking forward to, is doing some serious automobile photography but not the 3D variety that is the rage today. I would really like to capture a brilliant image of an automobile on camera that requires no retouching.
I like seeing the work of others and share thoughts. It is always a great learning experience that is why I am glad to be a mentor in the LLA online programme. There are a lot of people for whom language is a barrier. They have great talent, but are not able to communicate their mind therefore it is a wonderful idea that this programme is being offered in nine Indian languages. I am super happy that a lot more people can be part of the LLA family.
My introduction to photography happened through my father’s Olympus. The first time I held his camera and looked through the viewfinder it was extremely fascinating to me.
The pictures of the blue sky, vast oceans and clear raindrops looked even more beautiful through the lens of my camera. This strengthened my interest in Photography.
The other activity that really interested me in my childhood was helping my mother cook.
After school, I drifted into doing a degree in commerce but realised that expressing myself through images is what I really wanted to do. I took a break and travelled the world on a cruise ship just so I can capture images of varied subjects and places. End of the cruise I decided photography is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, which led me to Light & Life Academy.
The practical sessions, demonstrations and assignments attracted me the most. Also, the trips I took while completing my assignments gave me a lot of opportunity to explore people and nature in the raw.
Today, even as I explore my photography I also indulge my liking for food. Experimenting with cooking and sharing it.
I have always believed in the fact that knowledge increases only when shared. LLA Online provides a vast platform for me to share what Mr. Iqbal and my other mentors have taught me.
During my younger days, I was always fascinated with the life of a priest who was also a family friend. He used to ride around town in a classic Rajdoot bike, and had an aura of authority and accomplishment surrounding him. It was then that I decided to become one myself. However, after a little stint at the St. Josephs School, I decided that it wasn’t my cup of tea and started studying at Loyola College, Chennai. Doing my schooling in vernacular medium and then being thrown into the deep end of a high-profile college like Loyola made me very insecure. Since my science marks were good I had opted for chemistry but the language barrier encouraged me to bunk a lot of classes and get involved with every possible extra-curricular activity I could. What I was interested in most was art and craft so I used to spend most of time my decorating hostels and creating posters for various student activities on campus.
Around that time, I got involved in the World Social Forum, which was a big thing at that time. And when a group of NGOs started the Asian social forum in Hyderabad, Father Henry gave me my first DSLR camera with four rolls of film and asked me to document the event. I was a little lost but he told me to just set the shutter at 1/125th of a second and ISO at 100. I must have done something right because Father Henry decided to take me under his charge, get me a seat in Visual communication in Loyola and what’s more, supported me by giving me assignments in photography to help me cover expenses during the course. It was here that I met Iqbal Sir and I was convinced to be a part of LLA.
I began by working at LLA and did the professional photography programme. Working closely with Iqbal Sir fuelled my interest in industrial photography which is what I like to do most. I also enjoying shooting food because I am a foodie myself.
I am happy to be part of LLA Online programme because it is a structured programme just like the one I went through that made me what I am today. I will now be able to help many more people experience the same.
My love for creative spaces and built environments have been fueled by memories dating back to my childhood, where I watched my father fantasise a house on a tiny plot of land, filling that land with different plant species and my mother’s collections of binders and boxes that contained interior decoration magazine cut outs were my drive towards Landscape Architecture, hoping that someday I would be able to bring such images to life. While there was a backdrop of medical practice, creativity was always apparent through the way food was prepared, the rearranging of furniture every so often, the growing number of plants and the framed paintings on our walls. Landscape Architecture, let me bring my designs to life working closely with art and nature.
However, relentless deadlines drew me away from my passion, the stress soon started dominating my creativity. I needed a solution that would bring me back to my element and help me relieve stress. I found the solution in Photography, which worked like meditation. The documentation of experiences and the ability of storytelling without words drew me in and I realised my images were my state of mind. Photography became a frame to appreciate different creations a bit more uncluttered and strong. Now I search and appreciate landscape and architecture, through which I can retell the stories in my mind.
Light & Life Academy is driven by the philosophy of teaching photography as an art, providing creative direction to the process of bringing imagination to reality, consistently. Using the globalising power of the Internet, LLA Online will now be able to reach aspiring artists and photographers in ten different languages, allowing people from various backgrounds to access this information and create a sense of community amongst the photographers and potential for networking.