One of the greatest Indian fashion photographers, Prabuddha Dasgupta, passed away in Alibaug following a heart attack on Sunday. He was 56-year-old.
Born in Kolkata, Dasgupta was a self-taught photographer known best for celebrating the female form, be it through his artistic nudes or his deeply moving monochrome images.
He has shot for leading Indian and international publications, such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and GQ, and his works have been exhibited internationally.
He also has a few books to his name, the most celebrated and debated of which is his first, titled Women, published in 1996. He is also the recipient of several awards and grants, including the prestigious Yves Saint Laurent grant for photography (1991).
In spite of being a commercial photographer, he managed to bring to his work an individual perspective that never failed to amaze with its simplicity. He was also known to be a painstaking perfectionist, so even in a commissioned assignment, he would ensure that his work reflected his creative vision.
As news of his death broke, it left the fashion fraternity and contemporary photographers shocked.
Friend and veteran photographer Raghu Rai says, “He was a very creative individual. His work on women, nudes, nature and Goa is exemplary. He was also a gentle human being.”
Designer Ritu Kumar, several of whose campaigns were shot by Prabuddha, says, “He was one of our most imaginative photographers. We’ve lost an amazing talent. The news is shocking because he was one of the fittest people around.”
Fashion photographer R Burman says, “I have studied his work since I was 15. He was an icon, and there is no one else like him. His death has left a big void.” Burman says that he and a few others photographers will be in Alibaug to attend the cremation on Monday.
‘Undoubtedly a very big loss’
I was 22 and just starting out as a photographer when I got a chance to meet Prabuddha Dasgupta in 1994. I asked Lisa Ray (model-actor) who was doing a shoot with him if she could request him to let me spend a day with him. I thought I could be there for an entire day and learn. She asked and he agreed. I was in awe of him and looked up to him even more after meeting him. The news of his death is very sad. I remember him as someone everybody trusted.
There was something unique about his work. His style of fashion photography had an international flair. What was really special about him was that he didn’t follow the rules of photography. He used to twist and bend the rules. If a picture was grainy or out of focus, he would turn it to his advantage.
This is undoubtedly a very big loss.
‘His work was a game changer’
The demise of Prabuddha da has been a great loss for everyone. Though I didn’t have much contact with him as I used to meet him mostly during photographic exhibitions or seminars, I have always been a great admirer of his work. I believe his style of photography is ‘timeless’.
Prabuddha da’s work was startlingly simple and devoid of technical gimmicks. There was a deep honesty in the images that he created, with the simplest of photography gear that made them enduring over time and unaffected by the 'fads and trends' that affect the arts.
I believe that he was the torch bearer to a fashion aesthetic that was truly international and his work was a game changer in India. His memory will live long in the timelessness of his achingly beautiful photographs.