Profile Photographer Avinash Pasricha has photographed the crème de la crème of Indian artistes, and his fifty-year career is far from over. MADHAVI PURANAM

A vinash Pasricha is a pioneer and maestro whose body of work has accorded the genre of dance and music photography the stature of an art form. To be photographed by Avinash Pasricha has been the dream of any Indian dancer for the last five decades — his photographs speak more than a thousand words. The well-known books on Indian classical dance traditions co authored by him and any number of brochures on dance would underscore this fact in no uncertain terms.

Born in family of photographers in 1936, Avinash grew up in a studio and went on to serve as the Photo Editor of SPAN magazine published by United States Information Service from 1960 to 1997. With a vast body of work, spanning almost every genre of photography from photojournalism to portraits, advertising, industry and also architecture, Avinash is an artist par excellence. His expertise at manoeuvring the camera combined with his fine visual sensibility and a discerning artistic eye has produced the rarest of art which has had its inimitable and inextricable presence in the field of performing arts since 1960. There is probably no dancer or musician who has not come under the scrutiny of his lens and whose art has not been captured in his frame.

“A good picture always catches your eye and has to say something. A photographer has his own point of view and when more people see the same thing as he does, it makes a great picture. I never stop looking for a better picture and I am never satisfied,” says the suave and soft-spoken wizard who exhibits enormous patience in his photo shoots but can unleash annoyance at the slightest hindrance in his work. Generous to the core, Avinash is never demanding with respect to his professional remuneration but can be very tough on infringement of copyright issues.

“The visual representation of the text through photographs influences the gaze and the observation and leads to visual pleasure which becomes an integral part of reading the text,” says Avinash whose photos adorn many a prestigious publication/book on dance and music.

The striking still images shot by him have been invaluable to dancers in marketing their craft to the spectators by launching a dialogue with them. Here is a maestro who has combined high art and commercial endeavour into an inseparable entity. “A photographer with a keen and a developed eye for visual is able to see the effectiveness of the presentation as well as the total involvement of the performer in the performance on stage and it's the lens in front of such an eye which captures the magical moments of divinity in dance” observes the ace even as he is engrossed in editing the 500 odd pictures of a dancer he captured the previous evening. “Santosh provides me the company and many a time fills me up on the elements I miss out while shooting the performances” says Avinash of his wife who has been his companion in his engagement with performing arts over the last 50 years. Along with his brother, sons and nephew, he constitutes the illustrious Pasricha gharana specializing in photography, computer graphics, audio-visuals and multi-media.

“The photograph is not a mere illustration or a visual but can be an interpretative and analytical tool” says Avinash referring to the utility of the valuable personal collection of pictures of Indian dance and music built over the decades and which now constitutes a rare and rich archival material. He adds, “There is a need to make further advances in the academic study of photography, especially dance photography.” On being quizzed on whether photography has been accorded its due place amongst art forms and as to why the National honours/ awards have eluded him despite his monumental contribution to dance and music, the photographer reflects that photography does deserve due recognition but the artist in him derives utmost joy from his untiring quest for a still better photograph, which more than compensates for any award.

“A photographer has his own point of view and when more people see the same thing as he does, it makes a great picture.”