Renowned Indian photographer T S Nagarajan passed away in Chennai on Tuesday morning. He was 82 years old. He was the younger brother of late TS Satyan, who was an equally accomplished photographer too. Both of them originally hailed from Mysore. T S Nagarajan lived in Bangalore till recently. He was ailing for a while and had shifted to Chennai to be with his family. Churumuri , the blog, has written an obituary on T S Nagarajan and carries many articles penned by him. Chururmuri also carries tributes by others on him and his brother. Please do read them.
T S Nagarajan was a humble human being. I had the opportunity to visit him and his late wife at their Bangalore residence some 9 years ago. I was a complete novice in photography then, and had just abandoned a career in IT industry to start my life fresh with a learning curve in photography. He showed no airs about his stature and listened patiently to everything that I had to say or question him.
He had just hooked on to the internet then. He cited his example of learning internet at old age to convey that it is never too late to learn anything new in life. He further added that it was not late for me to abandon a career after graduation to start learning photography from scratch(to make a career in photography). He patiently opened up his archives and introduced me to some his works. I had the privilege to hear from him his views about photography, his personal journey as a photographer, and the how the photography world had changed over the years. In a span of over year, I visited him few times and we had few conversations over emails. As a parting gift post one of the conversations with him, he gave me an autographed copy of a catalog of his body of work “Homes with a soul” published in Camera Obscura (a 16 page section of the Thessaloniki, in Greece, based quarterly Entefktirio). It stays on as a prized possession among the books related to photography at my home.
He was a master of black and white photography. The conversations with him were very informative, and are part of my initial learning about nuances of photography. I share below some of his correspondences to me that I had recorded. I recollect them, time and again.
“…Now, it is twilight time for traditional photography. Black and white photography has a bright future in the digital world. We have to come to terms with change. The daguerreotype made way to the film. And now it is the turn of the film to leave the stage for the film-less technique. Accept the digital magic and try to create…”
“…I’m glad you tried your hand in doing a story on a cemetery. I remember I did one a long, long time ago in Delhi. A cemetery is synonymous with death but it becomes important only when it is seen with life. So,bringing in the human element to the story is necessary. Images in stone of those dead need to be connected with those of the living…”
“…Don’t be in a hurry to shoot and finish doing the story. Persist with the subject for a considerable time; you are bound to create some unforgettable images…”
“…(when I informed him about my first job as a photojournalist) Please be aware that this is only the first door that has opened. There will be many dark alleys to walk through and more doors to open before you arrive. I have no doubt that you will arrive, but tread slowly, cautiously and diligently. Learn from everyone, every success and every failure…”
RIP T.S Nagarajan, the first professional photographer that I had met in my life – The first photography influence that I had in my life.