Lala Deen Dayal – The Doyen of Indian Photographers

Famous indian photographer - Lala Deen Dayal
Famous indian photographer – Lala Deen Dayal

Born in 1844 at Sardhana in Meerut in the United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh today), Lala Deen Dayal was a successful engineer in Indore, where he was Head Estimator & Draughtsman with the Public Works Department. It was here that he was introduced to photography. His skill with the new medium was noticed by ruler of Indore, Maharaja Tukoji II. In 1875, the Mahajara became his patron, and encouraged him to set up his first studio. Shortly after establishing his studio, Dayal photographed the royal visit of the Prince of Wales (who became King George V), greatly enhancing his reputation.

Tiger Hunter - by Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal
Tiger Hunter – by Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal

This success was followed by a string of appointments over the years that allowed Dayal to capture a unique photographic record of Indian aristocratic life not easily accessed by his British counterparts.

Maharaja of Bijawar
Maharaja of Bijawar – by Indian photographer Lala Dayal Deen

This portrait taken in 1882, depicting the Maharaja of Bijawar sitting cross-legged, surrounded by servants, is a example of Dayal’s portrait work at the time.

In 1886, Dayal was appointed as the court photographer to the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad (an Islamic dynasty in India). Remaining in the Nizim’s service until his death, Dayal captured intimate portraits of the royal family, opulent palace interiors, and the pageantry of the times. In appreciation of his work and dedication, the Nizam bestowed on him the honorific title of “Raja”

Jain temples at Sonagiri near Dattia
Jain temples at Sonagiri near Dattia – as photographed by Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal

Besides the Nizam, Dayal photographed various British dignitaries throughout his career. In 1887, he had the unique honor of being appointed as “Photographer to Her Majesty and Queen” by Queen Victoria. Dayal also received numerous awards in exhibitions in India and abroad, notably at the World Colombian Commission in 1893 in USA.

Dayal captured a wealth of images of both the British and indian ruling classes
Dayal captured a wealth of images of both the British and indian ruling classes

In 1896 he expanded his business and opened the largest photography studio in Bombay, which was patronized by both Indians as well as the British.

Photos of India by Lala Deen Dayal
Historic photos of India by Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal

Dayal photographed on a wider scale than any European photographer of the time, as he moved with ease between the Indian and English worlds. His albums of India views and ancient monuments became very popular and were bought as keepsakes and gifts by both the British and Indian aristocracy.

It was not only in his portraitures and depictions of the lives of the ruling classes that makes Dayal’s work memorable. He also captured the rich culture and tradition of India’s architectural heritage – its palaces, temples, monuments, and forts.

Dayal passed away on 5th July 1905, and his work was carried on by his sons. His contribution to Indian photography has earned him the title of “Doyen of Indian photography”. Lala Deen Dayal was the first Indian photographer to earn international renown for his pioneering work in the field of photography in the subcontinent.

The Natural World Is Celebrated By This Singaporean Photographer

Ernest Goh -'Selfie'
Ernest Goh -‘Selfie’

Previously a photojournalist with The Straits Times, Ernest Goh is a Singaporean photographer and visual artist whose work focuses on animals and their relationship with humans.

From 'The Fish Book'
From ‘The Fish Book’

Ernest’s animal portraits have been published in The Fish Book (2011), Cocks (2013, republished as Chickens in the US in 2015), and The Gift Book (2014) a collection of 15 gift-wrapping paper designs created with various elements from nature – including insects, butterfly chrysalises and flowers.

From 'The Chicken Book'
From ‘The Chicken Book’

His most recent work was presented in the solo exhibition ‘Breakfast at 8 Jungle at 9’ (Objectifs – Centre for Photography and Film, Singapore, 2015).

From 'The Gift Book'
From ‘The Gift Book’

According to the artist, Ernest’s fascination with the natural world began as a boy at his grandmother’s rural kampung (‘village’) in Singapore, as he waded in streams looking for fish and jumped into bushes searching for spiders.

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Get Down And Dirty – A Photo Tip That Gives Immediate Results

Korean woman in B&W
Black & white photo of Korean woman against sign

Your back, thighs and knees will hate this photography tip!

Why is it that the majority of people you see taking photos are doing so standing up? It seems that if we have a camera in our hands and then see something we want to shoot, we raise the camera to our eye, compose, and press the shutter release. Even when we use tripods we tend to extend the legs to eye level and then start shooting.

I recently read a great line that said, “Most of our lives are spent well above ground level and by the time… we’re adults… we rarely spend much time down low”. Have we forgotten what the world looked like when we were rolling around on the ground as kids?

Crouching down for the best angle doesn't always look elegant
Crouching down for the best angle doesn’t always look elegant

Honestly, I think when we’re faced with the opportunity to take a photo, it just never occurs to most of us to get down low. Or, if it does, maybe we don’t want to get our knees dirty, or subconsciously avoid getting down as we realize that it’s not as easy as it used to be. (Neither is getting back up)!

Yet by automatically shooting at standing height, we’re condemning our photos to being taken at the same boring perspective that everyone sees everyday. Shooting from a low angle allow us to show a different perspective of the world.

Sample photos of little girls
Samples of photos taken of small children from a low angle

You’ve probably come across articles that suggest getting down low when taking photos of pets and/or children. The objective, we’re told, is to be at least eye-level with them, if not lower.

On the other hand, it’s generally agreed that adults tend to look their best when shot at a camera angle that is either at their eye level, or just slightly above. Shooting from slightly above their eye level makes people’s faces look thinner and is generally more flattering.

But, have you ever considered that shooting from a low angle can also bring a fresh perspective to both your portraits and landscape shots?

Turbaned man
Close-up of turbaned Indian man

The next time you photograph an adult who is sitting down, take a photo of them from a standing position. Then, squat down and get down to their eye level, and take a shot. Compare the two photos. Chances are the photo taken from a lower angle will be more interesting and dynamic.

Photographer Lawrence Ang uses his knees to get the best angle
Photographer Lawrence Ang uses his knees to get the best angle

In landscape photography, by getting really low (dropping to one knee, or even lying on the ground) you can incorporate, and put more emphasis on, interesting foreground elements. This allows you to include objects into the image that can make it more engaging. – a rock, or a path leading to the mountains in the distance. By getting down low, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how this change in perspective will make your photos different than those taken by the majority of the casual snapshot shooters out there.

Low angle shots taken in Asia
Low angle shot of Gateway of India, and low-riders in Japan

Remember, it’s easy to capture engaging new perspectives in your photos without buying any new gear, or mastering specialized techniques. All you have to do is make the effort to crouch or lie down, and be willing to get a bit dirty. The point is, learning to use a low camera angle is a really simple way to create unique and powerful compositions that will make your shots more interesting.

Hong Kong Photographer’s Cinematic-Style Photos Evoke Nostalgia

Hong Kong street vendor
Hong Kong street vendor

A retired film director and actor, Hong Kong street photographer Fan Ho’s mastery of natural light creates a mood and drama in his photos that resemble film sets from a past era.

Hong Kong Venice
APP | 16×20 | Edition of 20

Taken during the 1950’s and 60’s, Ho’s images captured the transition of this iconic Asian city while it was in the midst of transitioning from old to new.

Silhouetted construction workers in Hong Kong
Silhouetted construction workers in Hong Kong

Immigrating to Hong Kong from Shanghai with his family at a young age, Ho began documenting Hong Kong with a Rolleiflex camera his father purchased for his. Largely self-taught. Ho began by developing his images in the family bathtub, eventually building a large collection of urban street photos.

Left: woman against large wallRight: pedestrians climbing stairs
Left: woman against large wall Right: pedestrians climbing stairs

According to Ho, he always looked for the lighting and composition to fall into place when shooting his street photos.

Cleaning woman dusting venetian blinds
Cleaning woman dusting venetian blinds

In addition to his successful career as a film director, first for Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers and later as an independent director, Ho’s photography has won him almost 300 international awards.

Smokey World, 1959
People in indoor stairwell

Fan Ho died of pneumonia on 19 June, 2016 at the age of 84.

Some of The Best Places to Photograph Tokyo

Tokyo Night Skyline
Skyline of Tokyo by night

Tokyo offers a mix of traditional and ultra-modern. This gives the visiting photographer some great choices. Even visitors with time constraints have a variety of locations to choose from.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Crowds at Shibuya Scramble Crossing

Shibuya Crossing is not to be missed. The world’s busiest pedestrian crossing (with an estimated one million people crossing the street here everyday), this ‘scramble’ crosswalk offers a unique photographic experience. Trying to figure out how to best capture the waves of humanity going through the crosswalks is every photographer’s challenge.

The Meiji Shrine
Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Japan’s Emperor Meiji. The shrine complex is located with 170 acres of forested land in downtown Shibuya. This is a spectacular setting to capture some photos depicting traditional Japan.



As a hub for entertainment, business, and shopping, Shinjuku ward in the evening is the perfect location to capture great photos of modern Tokyo with its multitude of neon lights.

Asakusa, Sensoø-ji in the rain
Sensoø-ji temple in the rain at night, Asakusa, Tokyo

Sensō-ji Temple, Tokyo’s most popular Buddhist temple, is a wonderful place for photographing traditional Japanese architecture. The famous temple gates, Kaminarimon and Hozomon, the five-storey pagoda, and the temple itself will make it easy to fill your camera’s memory card.

Gundam in Odaiba
Massive statue of Gundam in the evening at Odaiba, Tokyo

Odaiba is an entertainment and shopping mecca located on a man-made island. There are wonderful views of Tokyo Bay and Rainbow Bridge, making the area particularly ideal for taking pictures of the night skyline of Tokyo. The area is also famous for it’s massive Gundam statue.

Many first-time travellers to Asia, particularly those on business, have asked about easily accessible photo opportunities in the cities they visit. This post is part of an ongoing series, each on a different Asian city, introducing a few photo locations for visitors with limited time.

Loss of Personal Identities is Highlighted by Young Cambodian Photographer

Cambodian photographer: Neak Sophal
Cambodian photographer: Neak Sophal

A former student of Studio Images (the only place that provides education in photography and image in Cambodia) and a graduate of the Royal University of Fine Arts, Cambodian photographer Neak Sophal explores the issue of identity in contemporary Cambodian society.

From the series 'Behind'
From the series ‘Behind’

Neak’s exploratory work includes several including ‘Behind’ a collection of photos taken on the streets in which the subject practice self-censorship by showing their backs to the camera instead of revealing their faces and identity, and a series entitled Cham Norng (‘Thread’) where she used string to emphasize the ties of the present to the past.

From the series 'Thread': Left: 'Champa' / Right: 'Piss and Drink'
From the series ‘Thread’: Left: ‘Champa’ / Right: ‘Piss and Drink’

The photographer next moved her focus to the city, where she asked everyday people to pose for her in the street, hiding their faces behind an object that characterizes them. In most cases, the object tended to be related to their work.

P_KanaKukui_Neak Sophal_4

The subjects of Neak’s photos – whether a construction worker, a merchant, or a monk for example – ultimately lose their personal identity behind the object the selected to pose behind.

P_KanaKukui_Neak Sophal_5

The purpose of Neak’s documentary series is to demonstrate how individuals disappear behind their function in society. The photos in the collection have a strange, yet lasting, impression.

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July Photo Opportunity: Naadam, an Explosion of Mongolian Energy!

Naadam Festival parade
Openning parade of the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Pack your camera gear and travel to Mongolia to experience the Naadam Festival. Naadam is a major holiday in Mongolia and the perfect time to experience the culture and people of this amazing country.


Mongolian wrestlers at Naadam Festival
Mongolian wrestlers at Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (Photo courtesy of LiveFromUB)

Naadam is held annually in July in Mongolia’s capital of Ulaanbaatar, and draws thousands of spectators..

Horseback riders at Naadam Festival
Horseback riders at Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

A photographer’s dream, Naadam’s opening ceremony features marches and music from soldiers, monks and athletes before the commencement of the main sporting events.

Horseback riders at Naadam Festival
Horseback riders at Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Naadam’s origins reach back to Mongolia’s traditional military activities, which is why Mongolian wresting, horse racing and archery are the highlights of the 2-day festivities.

Crowds at the Naadam Festival
Crowds at the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

While not one of the easiest festivals to reach, Naadam’s colourful athletes and spectators offer spectacular photo opportunities, and is definitely worth the extra effort to attend. With planning, and a bit of luck, you’ll be able to capture some memorable photos at this unique festival.

Japanese Photographer Fits Huge Imagination In Tiny Worlds

'Flower Bed'
‘Flower Bed’

Japanese artist, Tatsuya Tanaka, believes everyone has sometimes imagined that leaves floating on water looked like little boats, or that broccoli or parsley resembled a tiny forest. A desire to express such imaginings through photos inspired him to put together his ‘Miniature Calendar’ project – where he posts a new photo every day.

'Make-Believe Play'
‘Make-Believe Play’

The photographs in Tanaka’s project primarily depict surreal worlds by using miniature human figures surrounded by everyday object such as plastic straws, food, circuit boards and more.


Despite the tiny proportions of the worlds he creates, they’re definitely big on imagination. The fact that Tanaka has been continuing this project for 5 years is a testament to his ongoing imagination and creativity.

'Prison Break'
‘Prison Break’

Tanaka is a great example of how a photographer can create outstanding photography that is fun, and that engages its audience on all levels.


With a large number of faithful followers, Tanaka continues to post new photos on his website on a daily basis (


Photography’s Beginnings in India

Dancing girls from Madras taken by Nicholas & Curths
Indian dancing girls from Madras taken by Nicholas & Curths in 1870

Photography came to India around 1840, just as photography was replacing painting as the new mode of recording the world.

In the early years, almost all the photos taken in India were linked to the British colonial regime – either by subject, or by photographer. The photographers mainly were English civil servants in the colonial government, or employees of the British East India Company (colloquially known as ‘John Company’). Some were employed specifically to take photographs, while others were amateurs.

Photography was also considered by the East India Company to be the most accurate and economical means of recording architectural and archaeological monuments for official records. The company actively encouraged the employees to photograph, and record archaeological sites.

Although they were a tiny minority of the population, it was the English in India who also first formed the major market for photography in India. Many individual bought photographs as a visual record of their experiences in India, which at the end of their tour of duty they would take back to their home country to show their family and friends.

No definitive record of when the first photograph was taken in India exists, but it’s generally agreed that the first commercial photograph taken in India dates from 1844.

The first photographic societies of India were found in 1854 in Bombay and 1857 in Bengal and Madras.

Native Nautch at Delhi (or Shalimar?), 1864 by Samuel Bourne
Native Nautch in Delhi, India, 1864 by Samuel Bourne

Indians were also quick to learn how to take photos. The first to learn were probably those employed by European photographers as assistants. These Indian photographers began by taking photos for India’s upper classes. There was a growing demand among wealthy Indians for photos, and local studios were soon set up to meet this demand.

The first Indian photographer whose name is recorded is Nawab Ahmed Ali Khan of Lucknow. However, it’s not exactly clear when he started taking photos. Estimates range between 1845 and 1850. The earliest existing photo taken by Khan is dated 1855

By 1855, a course in photography had been established at the Madras School of Industrial Art to teach photography to Indian students.

Photo by Dr. Narain Dajee
Photo by Dr. Narain Dajee

The quick growth of photography amongst Indians can be seen by inclusion of 30 photographs by Dr Narain Dajee (a professional photographer, and a council member of the Bombay Photographic Society) in the 1857 exhibition by the Photographic Society of Bengal. Dajee’s photos differed from his British counterparts in that they included images of fakirs, snake charmers, musicians, soldiers and other Indians.

As Indian photographers began establishing successful studios, most of them made the majority of their money through commissions from affluent Indian families. However, a few Indian photographers also began selling their work to both the aristocratic families of India as well as to the British civil servants serving the British Raj. Lala Deen Dayal (also known as Raja Deen Dayal) was one of the most successful*.

*Stay tuned… a post on Lala Deen Dayal will be coming soon!

Korean Photographer Creates Imaginary Worlds In Her Tiny Studio

JeeYoung Lee
Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee was born in 1983, and earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Seoul’s Hongik University. Since 2007, Lee has been shooting whimsical images that represent either her experiences, dreams and memories, or represent traditional Korean folk tales and legends.

Seeing Lee’s work for the first time, most viewers will presume her colorful, fantasy world images are the product of a large amount of digital manipulation. Yet each of her photos is created through the meticulous construction of elaborate sets by the artist herself, rather than use of Photoshop. In the middle of each image you can always find the artist herself, as Lee’s work is a type of unconventional self-portraiture.

“Resurrection” by Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

In “Resurrection” Lee appears inside a lotus portraying rebirth. The image references Shim Cheongin, a Korean fable about a girl who throws herself into the sea and comes back to life inside a blooming lotus. Lee created this dreamlike image by painting paper lotus and flooding the room with fog and carbonic ice.

What boggles the mind is that Lee creates all the scenes in her images by hand – in a tiny studio that measures a mere 3.6 x 4.1 x 2.4 meters. Starting with an idea born in her imagination, Lee will labor for weeks, sometimes months, constructing a surreal set for the sake of taking a single photograph. For each of her photographs the artist fills every square inch of space with hand-made props, set pieces, and backdrops

When the set is complete, Lee inserts herself in the scene and then takes multiple test shots. After carefully examining the test shots and making any adjustments she deems necessary, Lee takes the final shot with a 4×5 large format film camera. Lee then disassembles the set once the final photograph is produced.

"Treasure Hunt"
“Treasure Hunt” by Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

To create “Treasure Hunt”, Lee devoted three months to crafting the wire grassland, which carpets her studio to evoke a child-like wonderland. She spent nearly eight hours a day weaving bits of craft wire to a mesh screen to complete the grass flooring.

Lee’s avoidance of the use of Photoshop is based on her belief that the building and breaking-down of the set is an integral part of her artwork. She only uses Photoshop when she has suspended objects from the ceiling of her studio, in which case she uses the program to erase the fishing lines used for suspension.

My Chemical Romance
“My Chemical Romance” by Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

“My Chemical Romance” with its maze of pipes and yellow & black danger tape, Lee depicts the anxiety and disappointments felt by herself or those around her, and how they can lead to conflict and clashes of personality.

Lee is unique in that in addition to the role of photographer, she also assumes the roles of set designer, sculptor, installation artist, and performer. The results are magical, as can be seen in this small selection of a few of her work.

"Panic Room"
“Panic Room” by Korean photographer JeeYoung Lee

“Panic Room” shows the artist hiding herself inside a cupboard to protect and shelter herself from the confusion outside – symbolized by the dizzying atmosphere Lee created by bending the perspective in her studio. (For

Recipient of multiple artistic awards, JeeYoung Lee is recognized as one of the most promising up-and-coming artists in Korea. Her work has also received extensive coverage outside her home country by global news outlets such as Huffington Post, NBC news, CNN international, France 3 National news, China Daily, etc. as well as on various art/photo websites.

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